Oh me oh my, this was probably the best meal on the Way of the Roses trip. We arrived to the Craiglands hotel in Grassington, unpacked and cleaned up then headed to dinner. Our fellow guests were shocked that we were eating there, as it seems to have a reputation for exorbitant costs. The costs were certainly close to budget but not excessive I found. Portion size could be described as minimalist but certainly the flavour is concentrated in each beautiful morsel!
Grassington House? I didn’t know we were staying with millionaires!
We skipped the starter to concentrate on the main and not overload ourselves for the ride in the day to come. Nick went for a vegetarian dish, the spinach Spätzle. Spätzle a type of small noodle or dumpling made with fresh eggs. Typically it is served with meat but this time it was served with breaded goats cheese bon bons. This was also served with pickled beetroot and fresh rocket. I had a small part of the bon bon which was cooked beautifully, as you would expect. The batter was the crispiest possible without being brittle. The pasta itself was cooked well and seasoned intelligently.
I had to have the Yorkshire Lamb. Seared loin with a lamb wellington (thank you very much), broad beans, peas and a wild garlic pomme pureé. This was possibly the smallest meal I have ever had but also ranks among the most flavourful. The quality of the food at Grassington House cannot be overstated and was reminiscent of the meal I had some years ago at Kampa Park in Prague.
This was a dish which was levels of spectacular. Fantastic consistency on the lamb, on the brink of being fondant but still tough enough to have the consistency of well cooked lamb. The pastry on the wellington was feather light and the filling balanced the lamb against what I believe was mushroom quite beautifully. The garlic pomme pureé was also sensational, light, fluffy and so flavoursome. A small meal even by flea standards but one of substantial beauty.
The cheese course consisted of Tunworth, Dale End Cheddar, Fellstone and Leeds blue, the only one on the list made form sheep as opposed to cow’s milk. Those who have been within 4.5 miles of my location will be aware by favourite cheese is Roquefort. The Leeds blue was the closest in terms of flavour to this so was of course my favourite on the plate.
A very creamy soft cheese which is fresh like their Pecorino, most similar in texture to a Gorgonzola. A gentle mild blue aged for 30 days with savoury notes, a little bitter with some sweetness that lingers in your mouth. George & Joseph
Overall, a staggering restaurant even if the portion size were more fit for a door mouse than a 6 foot pedant. We will most certainly be returning in future.
Prior to an astonishing hill coming out of Settle, we ate a lovely lunch at the New Inn in Clapham, in the Craven district of North Yorkshire. The lunch itself was high quality and we were very grateful to the staff at the New Inn for letting us faff about with our bikes before the huge hill out of Settle. For a combination of the above reasons I must recommend this charming place.
The Ploughman’s lunch was absolutely lovely but a little too ambitious for us. We were cycling machines at this point and had had a fulsome breakfast which did not leave much room for an extravagant lunch. Nonetheless we ate at least 60% of this delicious dish. I should say the Wensleydale was a little dry for my taste.
Nick opted for the ham and cheese panini which I understand was wholly satisfactory. I went for the pastrami, pickle and mayo panini which was excellent. Pastrami has quite a unique flavour including smoke, spicy black pepper, and the sweet citrus tang of coriander. The original process involved placing meat in saddle bags, where it was pressed by the riders’ legs as they rode. Thankfully Health and Safety have since frowned upon this practice.
Overall this was a lovely lunch break and very welcoming place. I understand one can book a room there which we may choose to do down the line. I am most grateful to the staff for allowing us to tinker with our bikes (outside of the view of fellow diners it should be added, which made the bitter hill out of Settle less frightening.
See below a photograph taken on a road being newly relayed. I did not realise how newly until my tyres were coated in yellow paint (which dries very quickly indeed). A minor set back saw us slightly delayed into Grassington but more on that in a later post, perhaps.
Having wandered around Morecambe a little, been told to f off by a local, and escaped to Lancaster, we returned to Morecambe for a spot of dinner. The Secret Bistrot is not really that secret. The name is emblazoned across the window above the Palatine pub, where the drinks from the bistrot are sourced.
St Nick and his ruby red shirt began the evening with fresh moules marinieres. These were freshly caught and beautifully cooked. They were tossed in garlic and butter and finished with a cream and parsley sauce. I do not care for seafood generally so did not sample. I can tell only from Nick’s satisfied grumbles that it was a top notch dish.
I opted for the safe chicken liver parfait. Set in chimichurri butter and served with beetroot chutney, thei was an interesting starter. I have yet to taste this dish with beetroot chutney, often this dish is served with caramelised onion chutney to have the sweetness of this contrast the savoury nature of the parfait. However, it did work on this occasion. The mild flavour of the chicken liver is not countermanded very strongly by the rich earthy flavour of the beetroot, however the combination was not offensive. Serving it in a cup was a lovely touch.
The Roasted Porchetta for my main was excellent. The portion was so generous that I had to give half of it to Nick. I particularly liked the carrot and beans wrapped in bacon. This was something one would expect to see in restaurants in cities. Certainly for the price point the Secret Bistrot did not need to put this extra touch in but I am happy they did. The porchetta itself was stuffed and rolled in sausage meat and cooked in an oven. I thought it was excellent, the consistency and the texture was almost that of pulled pork, such was the excellent cooking quality. The grainy sausage meat stuffing in the centre went very well with the aforementioned texture of the pork itself.
Nick went for the excellent steak with chips. He asked for it to be cooked rare which was an excellent choice. I had a bite and can tell you it was cooked to a high standard and absolutely rare. Putting it on what was a Bearnaise sauce, rich sauce thickened with egg yolks and flavoured with tarragon. The egg was cooked beautifully and the runny texture of the yolk mixed beautifully with the sauce and steak. Overall an excellent quality meal.
We also ate some delicious if not very salty truffle and parmesan fries. Overall this was an excellent meal at a phenomenal price. It cost us only £20 each for both courses. I was really impressed by the quality and the location, overlooking the bay in Morecambe. We will certainly be returning to the Secret Bistrot when doing the Way of the Roses in reverse.
Picture the scene, I have just arrived in Hull, my first time out of my city in some time, and Nick’s (erstwhile Saint) first suggestion is for us to leave Hull. More precisely, Nick was an advocate of a 76km bike ride through East Riding and Yorkshire, briefly. We were supposed to go to the Goodmanham (one word, not three) Arms but the charming gentlemen in the window, whom I had not realised I had photographed, confessed to us that he had caught COVID and the restaurant was on lockdown. I hope you will join me in wishing him well. We had to settle for the less alcoholic but still very good Fiddle Drill, just up the road.
Now, I am not partial to mass market beef anymore. I shan’t bore you with the particulars and the environmental costs but suffice to say it is not very good. However, when I suspect that the beef has been locally sourced, ergo far less of an impact on the environment, I will capitulate and order a beef dish. This was the case at the Fiddle Drill, where I ordered a beef and blue cheese sarnie. This came in an excellent presumably local ciabatta with lovely think cut chunks of beef and a delicious, strong blue cheese sauce. The beef was perhaps a smidge overcooked but this is largely down to personal preference. The coleslaw was delicious, just the right amount of savoury for me. I am not entirely sure what the purpose of the dry cumin cous cous was but this can be forgiven.
Nick ordered the very English ham and cheese toasty which also came with salad, coleslaw and the cumin cous cous soul drying extravaganza in a ramekin which I was not so fond of. Nick and his oiled forearm enjoyed his meal tremendously. I sampled a bit and am minded to think that the chefs at Fiddle drill used Edam but I am happy to be proven wrong. An excellent fare overall.
Fearing an enormous hill toward the end of our ride, I consumed an extra course, that of the delightful teacake seen below. Matthew tells me that the origin of the dessert was due to the raisins being soaked in tea, which was not something I was aware of beforehand. In any case this tea cake was very delicious, light, fluffy and the perfect cinnamon ratio. I was elated.
Though it was not our first choice, the Fiddle Drill was an excellent compromise and proved delicious and cost effective, not to mention its location in the gem that is the Goodmanham village. Highly recommended.
Now, am I biased because this restaurant is practically next door to me? Perhaps I am. However, the premises had been largely empty for a year and to see them rejuvenated by such a promising restaurant filled me with joy. M and I ordered an outrageously flavoursome meal from Seoul Kitchen last week and I am delighted to be able to write to you about food once more.
For once takeaway photographs have not let me down, a testament to the Instagram-readiness which restaurants must have when presenting food to their phone addicted customers, perhaps. The above photographed was the cheese toppoki, (correct spelling Tteokbokki); is a dish consisting of stir-fried rice cakes. This is a popular Korean dish made from small-sized garae-tteok called tteokmyeon or commonly tteokbokki-tteok.
This contained a delightful rich sauce which I believe is called Dashi and some necessarily more bland cheese mixed in. The latter is likely an aberration to Korean diners but one which I suppose had to be made to pacify the English buyer. The rice cakes themselves were almost tubular in shape and quite slippery, but wonderfully dense to bite into. The rubbery texture was very pleasant indeed.
Matthew had regular Toppoki, pictured above. His was noticeably more spiced than mine and had absolutely no cheese.
Tofu Dolsot Bibimbap was my other dish of choice. This was a vegan twist on the traditional Korean Bibimbap, made typically of warm white rice topped with namul or kimchi and gochujang, soy sauce, or doenjang. I chose the vegan option on this occasion and was not at all disappointed. The tofu was fried lightly and beautifully soft inside. The sauce was perhaps a little sesame heavy but overall very flavoursome. The vegetables included beansprouts, carrots, zucchini and spinach. All in all a fibrous offering for which your body will thank you.
Kimchi is the best known of all Korean dishes. This is a spicy (thanks to the gochujang) salt nappa cabbage side dish. We tried to make it here but it takes weeks. The dish sometimes call for the use of fish sauce which Seoul Kitchen used liberally on this, hence put me right off. I don’t like fish, hence this is entirely personal preference, however I could see it was a faithful and accurate rendition of the dish which Matthew enjoyed very much.
Overall, I am elated that such a high quality restaurant has opened locally. I look forward to many meals there in future, hopefully in person as soon as possible.
Home to the Two Towers Brewery (named after the Asinelli and Garisenda towers in Bologna, I believe), the Gunmakers Arms has become a much loved consistently visited haunt for me. It has in effect become my local. My heartfelt thanks to Nick (formerly Saint) for introducing me to this place. It must have taken great courage for him to battle my perceived pretensions and take me somewhere he thought I might not like. As it turns out I am a big fan and keep being drawn back to it.
The erstwhile Gunmakers Arms
Situated in Birmingham’s Gun Quarter, this magnificent pub is a stone’s throw from St Chad’s Cathedral. It is now owned by the Two Towers Brewery and has been since 2010. The brewery itself is situated at the back of the pub and can be seen from your comfortable outdoor seating.
Using traditional methods, we brew a range of ales representing the true spirit of a great city. With a batch size of 10 British barrels (360 gallons) the brewery is at the rear of our dedicated outlet, the Gunmakers Arms, in the historic Gunmakers’ quarter and supplies pubs, clubs and restaurants across Birmingham and the West Midlands. Two Towers
Why do I like this pub? £3.40 per pint (now £3.50, shock, horror), excellent variety of beers for me not to drink (I’ll defer to Nick for explanations of their excellent selection) and readily available good quality cider. Equally, there is a local convivial atmosphere which is lacking in some of the newer establishments in town. I have found that the concept of a local pub, with local patrons has decreased dramatically in the last decade and there are now only a handful left in Birmingham. The other one that I can think of within 3 miles of the centre would be the Jeweller’s Arms in Hockley.
In summary, the Gunmaker’s Arms is a genuine local gem of a pub which I cannot recommend highly enough. If I had the chance I would go there weekly. I hope you will avail yourselves of the opportunity to visit it, should you be in the vicinity.