Staycation: Middleton Lodge, North Yorkshire
- Credit: Kathryn Armstrong
Dining at The Coach House at Middleton Lodge near Richmond is all about getting back to nature in style …
Not only do you wake up and smell the coffee if you’re staying at Middleton Lodge, you can walk over to breakfast via a kitchen garden where the garnish for your eggs benedict is being freshly plucked.
The previous night you may have feasted on carefully crafted dishes which make the most of the rich pickings literally on the doorstep, created by chefs for whom a field to fork ethos is a reality.
And if you’ve had a glass of water, still or sparkling, it will have been bottled at source on the estate using reusable glass bottles, minimising both single use plastic and transport costs. The water is filtered through chalk through the hills to the west and is packed full of minerals.
Sustainability is at the heart of life at Middleton Lodge which is just off the A1 near Richmond. Heat comes from a wood chip boiler using renewable biomass to warm the water for those luxuriously deep baths in outdoor hot tubs or the under-floor heating that makes your room so cosy.
If you’re heading for a spa treatment you’ll be enveloped in products from the likes of eco-friendly Voya and Ren and the estate shop is filled with tempting well-sourced take-home gifts from talented craftspeople.
It’s an ethical message that’s very easy to swallow. Especially in the dining room. I’ve rarely seen a menu as likely to tempt me way from my usual meat or fish main course, but on a previous visit to The Coach House I chose – and devoured – a main course of in-season tenderstem broccoli from the garden which was served in tempura and chargrilled variations, scattered with the crunch of roasted macadamia nuts and drizzles of goats cheese, a dreamy marriage of flavours and textures.
That was on a more summery day – as winter closed in, we returned and dived in to the gift of the garden at a more harvesty, substantial time of the year.
We stayed in the Dairy, a cluster of rooms in tastefully converted buildings, these days all honey-coloured and Cotswolds-y. They are a short walk from The Coach House restaurant, bar and spa in the main buildings.
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The feel is very rustic-luxe. Layered up textiles bring linen, wool and furs to the mix by rough-hewn walls and thick cosy curtains. These rooms cocoon you and it’s very easy to slip in to an afternoon of movies, books and bubbles in the bubbles of the hot tub. It all feels feels very off grid.
You can grab your wellies for a wander around the extensive estate, eyeing up the rooms you fancy for your next visit – we were taken with the gorgeous shepherd’s huts overlooking some carefully curated planting areas by the established orchard.
But on stays like these, dinner is always a treat and the inventive chefs at The Coach House do their bit to tempt with the produce on their kitchen doorstep, as well as that from farmers and producers close to home.
Our starters included golden beetroot ‘tartare’ – thinly sliced heritage beets in the prettiest autumn colours, topped with creamy burrata, apricot and lemon verbena. Plenty of attention to appearance as well as the burst of earthy flavours.
Choosing ‘From the land’, I ate aged belted galloway tartare, which was delicate and elegant. I had eaten this before and loved the blend of raw fillet beef with watercress emulsion, egg yolk. A classic which is always full of punchy flavours.
For a main I went 'to the garden', trying a veggie version of what was essentially a cottage pie – richly flavoured root veg, herby lentil and so very comforting mash. Another main was a simple classic of heritage sausages, again with melting mash, and sides of garden veg. Food to match our perfectly autumnal surroundings and to be enjoyed with robust red wine – there are some good wines by the glass so you can chop and change on your menu adventure.
Not normally a pudding girl, it must have been the chills outside that took me to the land of bread and butter pud for full-on indulgence and more comfort still. It was chewy and unctuous topped with melting vanilla ice cream. Perfecto.
Just hours later it was time to take the short walk from the Dairy to breakfast – there is a fabulous array of continental treats as well as cooked dishes – tex-mex-toned baked eggs with tomatoes, feta, chilli, lime and black-eye beans - definitely recommended.
Dinner B&B in a Dairy hot tub room, £450
Details and offers middletonlodge.co.uk