Area Favourites - North

Updated on 12 March 2014

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The Box Tree

The Box Tree

35-37 Church Street, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 9DR

Back in 1962, Malcolm Reid and Colin Long converted what was a local teashop into one of the country’s most idiosyncratic restaurants. Fast-forward more than 50 years, and current hosts Simon and Rena Gueller have cemented its reputation as an icon of the North Country scene. Some of the old eccentricities have been ironed out, but the retro interior still pays homage to striped wallpaper and paisley upholstery. By contrast, the kitchen (now headed by Mark Owens) is bang in tune with the times, delivering a clever, refined take on modern Franco-European cuisine in the shape of, say, treacle-cured sea trout with cucumber, radishes and oyster cream followed by fillet of Yorkshire beef with wild mushrooms, daube en cassolette and potato foam or (in more conventional vein) poached turbot with sprouting broccoli, brown shrimps and almonds. Desserts also hit the high notes – perhaps a golden raisin and rum soufflé with milk and honey ice cream. A pedigree wine list loaded with treasured vintages adds even more lustre to proceedings.

Over £80
French
The Samling

The Samling

Ambleside Road, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1LR

Set in its own 67-acre estate overlooking Windermere, this white-painted house immediately signals its ambitions with a striking modern interior and vivid displays of contemporary art – it’s also reaping the benefits of a substantial refurb that has added a new kitchen, wine cellar and chef’s table to the hotel’s many assets. The cooking is fiercely on-trend, with new Nordic nuances and a larder of seasonal ingredients deployed for top-end dishes such as Penrith chicken with ‘hen of the woods’ mushrooms, nasturtium oil, nasturtium root and charred watercress. Elsewhere, Lakeland lamb loin is paired with confit neck, potatoes in lamb fat, pickled squash and anchovy, while smoked eel is torched and served alongside eel jelly, caviar, Samling-reared mangalitsa pork, Caesar-dressing custard and Japanese cucumber. Desserts are equally modish, and the wine list garners plaudits galore. With the development kitchen now in full swing, plus a progressive garden, livestock, and even a seed exchange project, this has the makings of a seriously self-sufficient project.

£50 - £79
Modern European
The Star Inn Harome

The Star Inn Harome

High Street, Harome nr Helmsley, North Yorkshire, YO62 5JE

Since arriving at The Star, chef/proprietor Andrew Pern has turned this 14th-century thatched hostelry into a Michelin-starred repository for top-drawer seasonal produce from Yorkshire and beyond. Fish and game always play a part – as in fillet of turbot with wild garlic pie, charred garden alliums, moss parsley and oyster velouté or saddle of local venison ‘cooked over pine’ with a braised faggot, spiced red cabbage, fermented black garlic and sauce d’epices. A ‘locals menu’ offers some simpler pubby ideas such as creamy mussels in Ampleforth cider or venison cottage pie, while dessert might be milk ‘n’ honey – a little chilled buttermilk and Champagne rhubarb cream with Harome honey, rhubarb sorbet and honeycomb. The heart of the Star is still the bar, where you can eat without booking amid ‘Mouseman’ oak furniture, brass ornaments and touches of tartan; otherwise take advantage of the sheltered front terrace and garden. Note that accommodation is across the road in Cross House Lodge – it’s also worth taking a stroll around the “fabulous village”.

£30 - £49
Gastropub
One michelin star
SquareMeal UK Hot 100
Melton

Melton's

7 Scarcroft Road, York, York, North Yorkshire, YO23 1ND

“There’s nothing brassy about Melton’s”, chimes a fan of this old charmer, which has been pleasing York’s foodies for more than two decades. The place is still “‘as cute as a button” with quaintly dated murals on the walls, rather cramped tables, well-worn soft furnishings and a bevy of affectionate staff with “quiet charisma”. Michael Hjort’s food is original, fairly priced and dependant on proper local sourcing across the board. Menus change regularly, but intriguing possibilities might include carpaccio of venison with hazelnuts and ginger vinaigrette, fillet of hake with wild garlic, butterbeans and seasonal vegetable broth or rump and tongue of rose veal with pasta, pine-nut purée, peas, broad beans and gremolata. An excellent British and Irish cheeseboard is always at hand, and desserts could feature almond cake with apricot and York honey ice cream. Early-evening deals and modestly marked-up wines are in tune with Melton’s admirable ethos.

£30 - £49
Modern European
Sharrow Bay

Sharrow Bay

Howtown Ullswater, Unknown, Cumbria, CA10 2LZ

With Ullswater lapping below the windows & Helvellyn glowering on the horizon, this is a perfect setting & for many visitors, Sharrow Bay is the epitome of the English country house hotel – it was certainly the first of the genre. Noted for its opulent, over-the-top decor, Edwardian-style afternoon teas & rich food, Sharrow Bay is known for serving bold multi-course lunches & dinners – it’s best to go with a healthy appetite. Suissesse soufflé of stilton, spinach & onion & an intercourse sorbet may have an old-fashioned ring, but fillet of lamb with sweetbreads, dauphinoise potatoes and tomato and rosemary sauce, & fillet of turbot with shrimp risotto, ravioli of lobster and crayfish sauce show an awareness of contemporary trends. For those with stamina, there’s Francis Coulson’s sticky toffee sponge for afters, although the dark chocolate and cherry soufflé with vanilla sauce is worth the ten minute wait.

£50 - £79
British
The Punchbowl Inn & Restaurant

The Punchbowl Inn & Restaurant

Crosthwaite, Kendal, Cumbria, LA8 8HR

A handsomely renovated, rambling stone building, the Punchbowl sits back off the road from Kendal to nowhere, overseeing the stunningly lush Lyth Valley. Inside, it’s been given the full Farrow & Ball treatment, complete with slate floors, chalkboards & all the familiar gastropub kit– but there’s nothing ubiquitous about the food. The kitchen scrupulously sources local ingredients, bringing to the table braised wood pigeon with a casserole of lentils & root vegetables, ahead of sea bass with parmentier potatoes, spinach, wild mushrooms & a red wine sauce. To finish, prune soufflé with prune & Armagnac ice cream is astonishingly good. The Punchbowl is a classy, well-oiled set-up, but it hasn’t lost its warm, welcoming heart or its locally brewed ales. Should you wish to make a weekend of it, there are nine individually decorated bedrooms upstairs.

£30 - £49
British
The Angel Inn

The Angel Inn

Hetton, near Skipton, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 6LT

The Angel Inn celebrated its 30th birthday in 2013, but this landmark country inn (and pioneering gastropub) still brings a sense of occasion to the party with its beams, highly polished furniture, kitchen range, open fires and comfortably affluent surroundings. This place is all about food, with blackboards everywhere displaying the day’s menus, specials and nibbles: eat in the bar, brasserie or smart, intimate restaurant from a line-up of savvy, eclectic dishes founded on Yorkshire meats, game and fish – think little ‘moneybags’ of seafood (a classic), char-grilled beef fillet with oxtail pudding and horseradish mash or pan-seared brill fillet with parsley root, wild mushrooms and red wine reduction. Puddings and cheeses are spot-on, while the wide-ranging, connoisseur’s wine list offers great value for money. The Angel is perpetually rammed, with regular queues at peak times – hence booking is a must.

£30 - £49
British