A chef’s tour of North Yorkshire

The Michelin-starred chef of the Yorke Arms in Pately Bridge reveals her top restaurants, pubs and food producers in the county

Yorkshire has the most beautiful collection of monastic ruins in the country. The discerning Cistercian monks knew how to choose a serene position that was not only beautiful but that would serve the their communities’ needs. Culinary knowledge was passed down by the monks, and local produce and farming methods advanced as a result.One result of that is the wonderful artisan produce available in the dales today, and also in our sophisticated spa town of Harrogate, Ripon and the lovely old market town of Masham.

In Harrogate Baltzersen’s (22 Oxford Street) styles itself as “Yorkshire sourced and Scandinavian inspired”. It’s a fab, fun, quality cafe – tuck into a meatball sandwich with fried onion, lingonberry jam and jarlsberg cheese – they’re not shy in portion sizes, and for £6.50 this is just so good.

For relaxed fine dining in Harrogate, try Van Zeller. You’ll enjoy a serious meal with great seasonality. The cheese counter at Weetons Food Hall makes you proud to be British: you cannot afford to miss out on such mouth feel.

With that sensation in mind, head north to stately Fountains Abbey, to immerse yourselt in the sheer beauty of the area – and enjoy the tea room. As you munch its delicious sourdough bread, think about the ancient apple cultures that the monks may have used to form their wild yeasts.

A few miles away, Ripon cathedral towers majestically over the city, which goes about its business around it, including making pork pies. In the north of England the competition is fierce over who makes the best pork pie, but one certain contender is T Appleton & Son (6 Old Market Place).

In a listed building in the centre Lockwood’s offers true Northern hospitality and is the place to eat in Ripon.

Heading up into Wensleydale, the pretty town of Masham is home to the Black Sheep Brewery . Its depth and balance is amazing, and even better consumed with piece of Wensleydale from Hawes, just up the road.

Just off Masham’s famous marketplace is Vennells Restaurant. This modern British restaurant has an excellent reputation for game in season.

Heading back towards Pateley Bridge, over wild windswept moors with grouse and partridge flying high and sheep munching the heather, you come to the village of Lofthouse, in Nidderdale. Its Crown Inn (01423 755206) is an honest pub, of the kind you rarely find, with homemade food in the true sense of the word.

Further down the road is Wath, with the Sportsman’s Arms reached by a lovely little packhorse bridge. Its bar has a welcoming open fire, and the restaurant offers fine dining (including a wide range of locally shot game). There’s a collection of old station clocks from when a railway used to run up the dale, and it also has 11 en suite rooms from £60 a night.

Frances Atkins is the Michelin-starred chef of the Yorke Arms, Pately Bridge, (01423 755243, yorke-arms.co.uk)

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