Like most Expaters, I’m a city girl. I love the shops, bars and nightlife that come with urban life. Having said that, I do yearn for the clean air of the country and a piece of me will always call rural Yorkshire home.
Right now, a Yorkshire town is my temporary home and as we kiss farewell to a very short summer here in the UK, I’m switching into autumn mode. This involves a move from white to red, digging out my winter Barbour for a hike in the land of the Bronte sisters, and at least one day a week spent eating my own body weight at a local pub.
If you’re after open fires, local ales and hearty Sunday roasts, it’s well worth taking the two hour train from London to York and then venturing a little further afield round the Dales. Here’s a list of my favourite pubs with rooms in the area. Better get stuck in…
Best for fish lovers
You’d be forgiven for thinking that The Wensleydale Heifer is just a regular pub in the Dales. It’s not. It’s one of the best fish restaurants in the county.
Why a fish restaurant is named after a cow I don’t know, but who cares? The lobster and oysters here are fabulous. Cosy, casual and fun, dishes are simple enough to let the freshness and quality of the fish do the talking.
I rarely feel comfortable taking my (loud, messy) kids to a seafood restaurant, but The Wensleydale Heifer is an exception. My children especially love the cuddly cow gifts given to them after the meal (despite the horrendous mess they make).
Portions are as generous as you would expect in rural England and they even own the world record for the largest fish and chips ever served (101lb/45kg in case you were wondering).
Get over your foodover with a walk in the hills, settle down with a cocktail by the hearth, or sleep it off (rooms vary a lot in terms of style, so check before you book). Alternatively, feed any surplus to your four legged friend – dogs are as welcome as kids here.
Three course Sunday lunch £26.75, half lobster £25.50. The Wensleydale Heifer, West Witton, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 4LS. Tel. 01969 622 322
Best for elegant fine dining
Technically speaking, The Black Swan at Oldstead is not a pub, but a restaurant with rooms. In fact, it’s not really a restaurant, but a foodie landmark. With a Michelin star to its name and focusing on the best Yorkshire produce, its tasting menus get far more attention than the monastery ruins down the road.
Attracting a constant flurry of locals too, its dishes are picture perfect elegance. People are here to eat the food, not photograph it though – the vibe here is very much about having a great time and savouring the moment *closes instagram*.
The wine is also top notch, so unless you have a very selfless (or clueless) designated driver, it’s worth sleeping over in one of its stylish, yet unfussy rooms. (My favourite comes with a four-poster bed, and free standing copper bath).
Tasting Menu £95. The Black Swan at Oldstead, North Yorkshire, YO61 4BL. Tel. 01347 868387
Best for a casual weekend
The Crown Inn at Roecliffe is my go to when I can’t decide where to eat, when I’ve left it rather late to reserve, or when I’m going with my family (it’s about the only place we all like).
Staff are knowledgable, helpful and relaxed, and I’ve never, ever had a bad meal here.
As a child the main reason I liked it was not the food though, but the life size mannequins sitting by the entrance. If the staff are good humoured enough to dress up life size dolls with different themes according to the season, you know the place isn’t going to be stuffy.
Rooms are basic but cute – pastel colours, free standing baths and teddy bears on the bed.
Three course Sunday lunch £22.95. The Crown Inn, Roecliffe, North Yorkshire, YO51 9LY. Tel. 01423 322300
Best for fussy eaters
I’ve been a vegetarian on and off for about 25 years of my life, I’ve been dairy free for over one year and I’ve been a fussy eater for a lifetime. It’s hard to find places which cater to my madness and eating out, especially in pubs can be tricky.
The Durham Ox in the village of Crayke serves a great Sunday roast, as well as a huge menu for celiacs and vegetarians (with plenty of vegan options too). If you’re in a group with a couple of fusspots in tow, this place should be on your radar.
Mini fussy eaters are also well catered for here, and not just in terms of the food – accommodation includes a three storey self catering home from home. Dogs are welcome in most areas too.
Sunday roast mains £15. The Durham Ox, Westway, Crayke, YO61 4TE. Tel. 01347 821506
Best for a party
The Star Inn has been wildly popular since I was a small child, so much so that owners have opened three more venues across the county. I can only personally vouch for The Star Inn at Harome which was a regular fixture for my family at Christmas.
I’d ride ponies over the fields at Duncombe Park country estate in Helmsley, while my brother would deal with his teenage angst over clay pigeon shooting. We’d then decamp to The Star Inn for a celebratory dinner with our relatives.
Unsurprisingly, The Star Inn is a popular choice for weddings, birthdays and family get togethers. It’s cosy and laid back, but the food is special enough to mark a celebration. There’s a focus on regional ingredients throughout, and even a dedicated ‘Locals Menu‘ with nowt but (posh) Yorkshire grub on it.
Ladies, don your flat caps, it’s time to party.
Five course lunch £55. The Star Inn, Harome, Helmsley, North Yorkshire YO62 5JE. Tel. 01439 770397
Best for beer loving gourmets
When I can’t think where to dine in Yorkshire, I ask my best friend Sarah. She’s so into her food that as a kid her mum had to sprinkle Michelin stars over her toast to get her to eat it. I love eating out with her and The Pipe and Glass is next on our list. According to any foodie in East Yorkshire, it should be on yours too. OK, so it’s a little further afield and you’re best taking the train to Beverley, but by all accounts it’s worth the distance.
While Head Chef James Mackenzie is a regular on television, has published a beautiful recipe book and has the obligatory Michelin star to his name, his 17th century inn is still very much a family affair and staff are incredibly down to earth, even by northern standards.
There is an extensive ‘Little People’s’ menu for children and supporting the local community is very much at the heart of the pub’s soul, with charity lunches, school demonstrations and mentoring schemes proving that they care as much about people as they do about food.
Another feather to the Pipe and Glass’ cap is its excellent choice of speciality beers, including ‘Two Chefs‘, an ale crafted with a head chef friend from the aforementioned Star Inn. Generally I don’t drink beer, but apparently theirs is good enough to convert a lifelong teetotaller, so just to be on the safe side we’ll be making a girls night of it. We’ll be booking The Rosemary, which comes with its own patio looking onto Dalton Park and can be converted to a twin. If my husband gets too jealous, I suppose I can bring him back take away.
Sunday lunch mains from £13.50. The Pipe and Glass, West End, South Dalton, Beverley, East Yorkshire, HU17 7PN. Tel. 01430 810246