A magical moorland mix
- Credit: Nicky Rogerson
For Cecily Fearnley and Peter Neville opening The Homestead in Goathland brings together the perfect ingredients to balance fine food and family life
‘Living the dream’ means different things to different people but it’s hard not to think that Cecily Fearnley and Peter Neville have it sussed.
Their restaurant, The Homestead Kitchen in the heart of Goathland every bit lives up to its name, as their place of work, their home and their livelihood. In coming months, it will feed them too as the garden begins to groan with home-grown produce.
The buildings that house the restaurant, family home and a holiday cottage are a cluster of handsome honey-coloured stone buildings overlooking the village church and next to a path leading to the Mallyan Spout waterfall.
From their front doors you’re just steps away from moorland wilderness in one direction or in the other the better-known tourist spots of Goathland – famously ‘Aidensfield’ in TV series Heartbeat and of course the steam railway station that doubled as Hogsmead in the Harry Potter film.
It’s where Cecily grew up and where family is still near, making her and Peter’s decision to set up their own homestead a natural one.
They have two little boys, four and seven months. As a chef Peter was co-owner of The Pheasant at Harome, a busy and successful restaurant but not necessarily conducive to family life and balance.
When they met Cecily was running a business too – Whitby-based Sweet Cecily’s, a natural skincare company. She sold her shares and moved over to Harome to be with Pete.
‘Coming from running our own businesses we had that mutual respect Pete always had the dream of having his own place and maybe it was the combination of lockdown and having the family, but when this property came up (with me three months pregnant), we came to look at it and thought, ‘we’ve got to make this work’.
‘In the pandemic we found we were having every meal together as a family, and Pete said, ‘this is what I want’.
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‘My mum and dad are in the village and as crazy as it felt doing it all, it felt like, ‘yes’, says Cecily.
It was just eight weeks from completion to getting the restaurant open (it had been a restaurant before so the basics were there but hey installed a new kitchen), with Cecily furnishing it with cherished family pieces, adding to that homestead feel.
She was able to take on the accounts, admin etc while Peter and chef Peter Hall, aka ‘the two Petes’ concentrated on a menu that makes the most of produce from the surrounding area and which ‘flows with the seasons’.
Although they only bought the place last year, Homestead Kitchen has already earned a place in the Michelin Guide for its food, and Cecily says it really does feel ‘like living the dream’
‘We are utterly privileged to doing this - I’m not saying it hasn’t been really hard work but, the privilege is being here – whatever the weather you look out at that view and it grounds you.
‘To get in the Michelin Guide just a few months after opening is humbling – in the dark days something like that says you’re doing a good job’, she says.
Sustainability is a big part of the ethos at The Homestead with plans for the kitchen garden to provide food for the kitchen and family.
‘The Homestead is us – it’s our home, it’s us, and you might see the kids running around – my parents lived in a house called The Homestead in the Sixties.
‘I want the boys to see us every morning and very night – it's balancing it all – bouncing a baby on my knee while I’m trying to take a booking – but we have an amazing tight team here and that’s what makes it work.’
On the menu
Pete Neville’s Homestead Kitchen menu is all about showing off the best of local produce with minimum waste, maximum taste and a real helping of imagination and care.
You can dine with brilliant views of the North Yorkshire moorland and really feel like you’re getting a taste of them too.
Attention to detail is everything here. The menu is neat with three of each starters, main courses and desserts plus four lunch dishes to tempt – and daily specials.
Can you resist fresh from the boat langoustines? Never. Especially when dished up smothered in wild garlic dressing that really left you wanting to lick the plate …
Chef Peter brought canapes to the table – melt-in-the-mouth blue cheese doughnuts with beetroot jam. Bread made with Dales-milled flour and brushed with olive oil was accompanied by whipped butter lightly flavoured with Staithes kipper. Mesmerisingly good.
A starter of pork belly (£12) was meltingly tender with a sweet glazed top – a punchy burnt apple puree created lovely balance. A starter of salt-baked celeriac (£12) looked an absolute picture – like a hand-painted tile - with so many textures - from hazelnuts, mussels and dots of cod roe cream and the celeriac slices.
The aforementioned langoustines (£30) nearly made me weep with joy – so sweet and soft, cook for a fraction of time and prepared so they slipped from the shell so you didn't have to do the hard work. The wild garlic was so full of springtime zing and a shock of beautful spring colour.
Fish pie (£16) was full of chunky fish and prawn, topped with a delicious mousse-y mash, which hid a soft egg yolk in mix beneath – so joyous! Buttery brassicas alongside added the zip of sharp greens.
A happy mention to the desserts – Yorkshire rhubarb frangipane tart (£9), was as good as it sounds: the most buttery pastry imaginable, rhubarb zing to the light filling, ginger ice cream alongside, and topped with pistachio shavings.
The menu has a good selection of non-alcoholic drinks for those driving – as most will be (or you could hop off the North York Moors Railway of course), as well as a well-chosen wine list to suit all tastes. Coffee is from Roost in Malton.
This really is a gem of a place!
The latest Michelin Guide says
‘Ask for a table at the rear of this attractive stone-built former farmhouse so you can look out over the moors. It’s a small place, with a modern country house style, and is proudly run by two experienced chefs. The menu is concise but has plenty of appeal, with refined dishes crafted from local produce.’