June 4th. Hot and sunny, the sheep are in the shade of the trees, sheltering from the searing Yorkshire sun, the air still and heavy with the scent of spring/summer* blossom (*delete according to whim and fancy, according to your view of traditional seasons or the new wave seasonal disposition). Apparently, in frustration at the lack of Spring, the BBC has announced that Summer starts on the 1st June, not the usual summer soltice. Dumbing down or what?
We walk from Burnsall to Grassington along the river and back. Easy walking but no less beautiful for that. It’s a Thursday but the path is like the M1 motorway, with couples in inappropriate clothing – suitable, but inappropriate. Men in shorts and long white socks – what’s that all about, have they no taste? Welcome lunch at Grassington House, after following the established tradition of studying every other place’s menus, including the sandwich shops. Good lunch choice though, the best in Grassington. Dark Horse Hetton Pale Ale. Very nice.
Hetton and the eagerly awaited cup of tea (Earl Grey with lemon – who’s says we’re stuck in past up here) is only ten minutes from the car park at Burnsall. Wharfedale is beautiful and manicured; compared with Swaledale this is the Dales’ suburbia. Mullioned windows, subtle grey-green paint instead of the horrid brown stain promoted for so long by the National Park as the “safe” option. And net curtains ready to twitch.
We’re in one of the Angel’s suites. Spacious, thoughtful and very well equipped in a laid back sort of way – nothing over the top and not trying too hard. Flat painted ceilings, no timber beams. Natural and simple. Nice black aluminium table and chairs on our little terrace, which we can describe as comfortable now we’ve found the cushions for the chairs in the wardrobe. 17:45, a knock at the door heralds the arrival of the canapés to keep us going until dinner, hauled across the road from the kitchen. Or perhaps to persuade us to open that half bottle of fizz in the minibar. We resist, strong resolve in Yorkshire.
Dinner is all as expected. We are congratulated on asking for our steak medium rare. We drink a rare half-bottle of Vieux Télégraphe, flushed with the congratulations. Apparently if you ask for your steak well done it’ll be like a piece of shoe leather. We spot a couple deep in conversation with the waiter about their steaks; they have commented [complained?] and chef is, apparently, not happy. We suspect their steaks haven’t reached the requested shoe-leather state.
They have Sticky Toffee Pudding on the menu here. For our two boys this dish used to be the supreme restaurant test, the accolade for the best [after extensive testing] being held by the original Crab and Lobster at Asenby. It’s now under new management – well new in the sense they’ve been there for years – but the original owners, Jackie and David Barnard were the ones who changed it from the old, tired and loss-making Shoulder of Mutton and set the tone and eclectic decor making it rightly famous and the place to be seen. In addition to the STP, in the Barnard’s reign the C&L used to do the most delicious spiced little sausages in bowls on the bar; you didn’t need to have dinner, just a quick coke and sausages. So, in honour of this past challenge, we’re introducing the STP scoring, see below. There is no greater test of a restaurant’s ability to provide comfort and succour. So, The Angel – pretty good, and singled out by many reviews.
Pub/Restaurant with rooms Angel at Hetton.
STP score 8/10 [since this is the first and therefore the benchmark, it wouldn’t do to award 10]
STP is claimed by Sharrow Bay Hotel as their invention dish, though the recipe was actually acquired from Patricia Martin originally. The little shop in Cartmel produce it by the ton [1.016 Tonnes] in foil containers for consumption at home. Various chefs have their own version and we’ve used Delia’s version for years. Next step up is to try Felicity Cloake’s.