Restaurant review: Norton Courtyard, Grantley Hall, North Yorkshire
- Credit: Grantley Hall
Grantley Hall near Ripon has opened its outdoor dining restaurant and crowds are flocking.
When an unexpected heatwave combines with being able to go ‘out out’ for the first time, there’s excitement. When you add to the mix the chance to explore one of Yorkshire’s newest - and most grand - eating places, then the word frenzy springs to mind.
The place is the five-star Grantley Hall near Ripon and the specific eating place is The Norton Courtyard, which transports you to the vibe of an elegant château courtyard in Provence. Not that there's anything wrong with the ambience and beauty of this part of Yorkshire of course – it’s just that you don't see that dazzling blue sky quite as often as you do closer to the Med.
You’re welcomed at the entrance by staff who take your temperature and ask you to sign the usual Covid contact details. A spritz of hand-san and you’re escorted to the courtyard itself, via the smart hallways of the chic hotel which opened up in 2019, only to be cruelly curtailed by the pandemic.
The team has certainly pulled out all the stops when it comes to providing an alfresco dining option for families, couples and ladies who lunch. On the courtyard terrace there is a glass canopy keeping off the chills and blankets on your seat - though when we visited in the sunshine, we were peeling off rather than adding on the layers. I bet it’s super cosy and twinkly at night.
There were couples, multi-generation families and pals enjoying much-anticipated reunions. There were birthdays. There was romance – and much fizz being transported in ice buckets.
It feels like a place for celebration. The menu is an all-day one, serving from 12noon to 9pm, and covers everything from Grantley fish and chips to a herb-fed chicken bowl or light summer vegetable tagliatelle. There’s a Josper grill from which steaks and chicken emerge.
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A starter of oak smoked salmon, fennel and dressed Whitby crab with dill lemon cream (£15.50) was spring on a plate, as was the light courgette and garden leek soup (looking so pretty in its beautiful serving bow) with the added cheer of a goat’s cheese bon bon and drizzle of chive oil (£12.50). This combination would be a lovely light lunch of its own.
A main course of lobster (£50), was textbook cooking. Grilled on the Josper, the lobster flesh was sweet, dense and chewy with little flecks of pink flesh and claw meat adding further texture. It was served with a trio of treats – garlic butter, fries and salad.
Halibut steak, (£32), cooked on the bone and grilled over coal was delicious piece of fish, served with buttered hispi cabbage and bathed in a warm cockle and parsley vinaigrette.
It’s a place that somehow goes so well with a summery dessert and the Isaphan (it’s a rose) delice (£11), looked such a pretty picture and punched with flavour from fresh raspberries, a lychee crémeux, raspberry and rosewater ganache.
Adding to the charm and calm of Norton Courtyard is that having been inspired by seasonal plates like the above, you get to enjoy a garden wander after your lunch – and can check out the work in progress at the kitchen garden.
This really is a serene and special spot for indulgence, celebration, and saying welcome back to the pleasures of the table.