Living and working in a busy city, I like nothing better than escaping to the tranquility of the countryside at the weekend, and as I drove to Middleton Lodge one drizzly Saturday, it seemed the gods were on my side. The dreariness of the A1 with its eternal roadworks gave way to tree-lined paths, summer blooms and the first rays of sunshine of the day, and by the time I took my seat at the beautiful polished wood table and began to take in the roughcast walls, exposed beams and elegant uplighting of the rustic, yet refined Coach House Restaurant, I’d found the peace I craved.
A helpful waiter dressed in a smart white shirt and jeans brought water, sourdough bread and lightly salted butter while I perused the menu. For a daytime, the restaurant offered a surprising amount of choice: the Lunch Menu was filled with classics like croque madame, while the Market Menu showed off Chef Gareth Rayner’s flair for working with local ingredients – something which is highlighted on the back of the menu with a map showing exactly where his ingredients were sourced from and their proximity to Middleton Lodge.
I was dining with my mum and while she opted for the cured sea trout with horseradish, peas and wild rice (£8), I went for the more theatrical sweetcorn velouté with morcilla and popcorn from the Market Menu (£20 for two courses or £25 for three courses) which was poured at the table – just one of a number of little touches that made this meal stand out. Both dishes offered a beautiful balance of flavours, as the delicacy of the trout was pitted against the sharpness of the horseradish and the creamy velouté easily balanced the bite of the texture- rich popcorn.
Sourced from Hodgson Fish in Hartlepool, the classic fish and tartare sauce (£12) was served with chips that should really be elevated to the realm ofroastiesandagenerousdressedsalad. The pork belly with boudin noir and roast apple was delightfully rich and beautifully plated – the lightly crisped pork sat on creamy mash, charred pak choi and hearty black pudding and was served with a sweet yet tangy hot apple sauce. Delicious. Both were washed down with a glass of crisp New Zealand pinot gris (£7.75 per 175ml glass).
For dessert, I opted for sweet roasted peaches with mascarpone, raspberries and brioche (£7.50), while my mum treated herself to vanilla panna cotta, Eton mess and pistachio ice cream (£7.50). Both had the kind of sweet indulgence that simply cannot be recreated at home. Having almost fallen into a restful slumber, we ordered a round of rousing coffees accompanied by macaroons and petits fours, again the attention to detail which elevated our meal to something special.
I paid a quick visit to the restrooms and was pleased to see that the same care was taken throughout the restaurant. The bathroom offered fragrant rhubarb soap and hand cream, and each fireplace was laid, ensuring that they could be brought to life with the strike of a match should the weather take a turn for the worse. Just as you emerge from a spa feeling relaxed, I left Middleton Lodge feeling relaxed, content and knowing I’d been well looked after.
Kneeton Lane, Middleton Tyas, Richmond, DL10 6NJ