The Alice Hawthorn, Nun Monkton

Do you think the days of one, two or three Michelin restaurants are over? Or the dreaded ‘27 course tasting menus’?  We were reading about that restaurant at the end of Wales, just before you drop off the cliff into the sea. [Ynyshir…Ed]. Who goes that far anyway? To eat in a black room. And no concession to intolerances or allergies – or simply that you don’t actually like spotted dick, or whatever. 

As you see, we’ve eaten in our fair share of Michelin restaurants – and very good they are/can be – but good pub food, less formality, better value is they way to go in these straightened times. We think. We really do.

And we’re interested in the whole experience. We don’t mean the colour of napkins, but the way of life. The whole ethos – food miles, local sourcing, local produce. We can’t think how many times we’ve seen ‘Gihga halibut’ on the menu. We’ve been to Gigha and it’s lovely. Surely they’ve heard of Hodgson’s Fish – that little van that scurries round the north-east restaurants like a fishy version of Postman Pat? Gigha can’t be the only producers of that lovely fish, can they? As architects we’re particularly interested in the building. We think Francis Atkins missed a trick when she opened at Daleside Nursery. The ‘temporary’ airstream caravan was a scream but the new café – boring. Holiday camp cafeteria. The food’s good but it’s not enough. For us anyway.

So, bring on The Alice Hawthorn. A pub in Yorkshire (hurray) that, during lockdown, put together £3million to build a stunning set of rooms. RIBA Yorkshire and National Award Winner. A beautiful essay in whitened Douglas Fir – you’ll know what we mean when you come and stay. Simple, elegant, thoughtful design by De Matos Ryan architects. We love it. Four bedrooms in the pub supplemented by the new dozen wooden ones turns it into a proper destination. Go and eat and sleep. Walk courtesy of their little walk book, or hire a motorboat for the day on the river. 

And the food? Excellent food at sensible prices. Humour, taste and style. On some days (Friday, Saturday?j they fire up the grill for that Smokey experience. We had lamb rump and the seafood stew. Yum. Good wine list with a few red Burgundies heading up towards £250, but the majority affordable. Why aren’t all pubs/restaurants like this?

Pub with rooms The Alice Hawthorn Nun Monkton 



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