Local boy Shaun Rankin did what so many people do and up and left for the bright lights and big city come his first working years. Beginning in London before landing a job in Jersey, his experience spanned high end kitchen well before he started collecting Michelin stars how others collect Scout badges. After he proved his clout away from home, ultimately the call of the Yorkshire Dales prevailed, and he returned to set up shop at Five Star hotel Grantley Hall. The inevitable Michelin star followed, and it’s been a favourite of locals and visitors alike since it opened in 2019.
It's tasting menu only territory in the dining room, which in most other hands could feel a little stuffy. There is the usual ceremony afforded to the experience, but this is Yorkshire, so everything is delivered with a warm smile and a friendly nod that makes you feel as though your among friends.
The ten-course triumph starts with drinks and a parade of snacks in the plush, pastel-decorated dining room before you’re ushered through to begin the menu proper. Rankin’s commitment to using fresh, natural and seasonal ingredients from his native Yorkshire means he rarely ventures beyond the kitchen garden for fruit, vegetables and herbs, and without it becoming the focus of the evening, the whole restaurant’s sustainability ethos is demonstrated through tweaks like using Yorkshire Rapeseed oil instead of olive oil, and swapping citrus for bright, homemade vinegars.
Stand-outs among the line-up of incredible cookery included a generous and perfectly cooked piece of turbot which was paired with caviar and a cream sauce, all clever cut with herb oil. The lamb that followed next we can confidently say was the best piece of lamb we’ve ever had. It was soft and pink in the centre, all caramelised and crispy on the edges, and despite being six courses in we scraped the plates.
The paired wines, each of which was carefully described by the smiley sommelier, worked superbly with the food and gave the whole evening a lift, while the nonalcoholic run was just as interesting. Drinks made from custom-mixed juices, tinctures and syrups carefully complemented each course.
Despite all the pageantry (which you want if you’re paying £130 a head for dinner) there’s something humble here too, there’s reverence to the produce and homage paid to all those who work the land with such care to produce a pantry full of some of the UK’s finest ingredients. The whole experience is the perfect balance of down-to-earth and out-of-this-world.