Travel at a Natural Pace; Enjoy the Journey

Craven Heifer, Addingham North Yorkshire

The Craven Heifer – Serendipity at its Best

We knew we had made a mistake as soon as the amuse bouche arrived. It was a silky smooth celeriac velouté, with truffle oil, and garnished with very fine crispy bacon bits. An espresso cupful was not enough; we could have eaten a bowlful.

A Chance Discovery

For some time we had been looking for a public house for a light lunch. We were on our way to Pateley Bridge when we came to the outskirts of the village of Addingham. The Craven Heifer appealed to both of us in the split seconds it takes to judge a possible eating place as you drive past. Outside there were a few couples enjoying drinks in the sunshine, and inside there was a sprinkling of diners. At first we were a little disappointed that they didn’t do a bar menu, although the bar staff did helpfully point out that their sister pub further into the village did. The menu was so interesting we made the decision to have just a starter and a drink.

Alison had calves liver, braised oxtail, smoked bacon, roast red onion and beetroot puree; the contented murmurs from her side of the table said it all. I had the crisp pork belly with pulled shoulder, apple pie and apple puree. Both were beautifully presented and confirmed the first impressions created by the unexpected amuse bouche; we were in the presence of a seriously good chef. My pork was beautifully soft and sweet with thin and crisp crackling; the shoulder, too, was spot on and all was balanced by the crisp filo pastry apple pie and puree.

Our plan to have just one course went out the window. To the gently pleased amusement of the waiting staff we asked for the menus again, and chose our main courses. It would have been criminal to not do a full assessment of this surprise find. On a practical note, it would save us having to find somewhere to eat in the evening.

Alison’s chicken leg farfalle, carrot purée with pan reduction was another colourful, and tasty, dish. It was all perfectly cooked, the elements complemented each other, and the plate looked like a picture. When something that sounds very simple, like a carrot purée, was as memorable as the other parts of the dish, it says a lot.

I had whole squab pigeon, seared breasts and confit legs with foie gras, girolles and Jerusalem artichoke purée. The pigeon was beautifully pink, just right for me, and just as it should be. The accompanying foie gras was buttery soft, and the taste subtle. To my taste, the accompaniments seemed slightly oily but that’s nit-picking. If I’d not been driving, a glass of wine, perhaps a really crisp dry white, would have balanced it all out.

The menu pricing encouraged us to have desserts. The portion sizes were just right for us for a lunchtime meal: less chance of being left over full and sleepy. I had the raspberry panna cotta with honey and walnut baked fig. Alison had the same but without the fig. It was probably the best panna cotta I had ever eaten; it was so soft with a perfect wobble; quite how it retained its shape I do not know. Served with a raspberry coulis and raspberry dust it was wonderful; in fact the fig and walnut, as good as they were, were soon forgotten. The sweetness of the panna cotta and sharpness of the raspberry were in perfect balance. We ended the meal blown away by the tastes we had enjoyed.

We declined coffees, but exchanged a few words with the couple at an adjoining table as they left. They too had only popped in for a quick drink, which turned into a full meal, and had enjoyed their lunch as much as we had.

Our approach to slow travel and food is to allow chance to dictate what we eat and where we eat it. The meal we experienced at the Craven Heifer was the epitome of why we do so. We would have really missed out if we’d stuck to our original plan to only have a starter. We will make a point of going back to The Craven Heifer, even if it means a special journey. We’ll also try the The Fleece at the bottom end of the village. It is run by the same people and apparently has a less structured lunch menu as well as being a cook school and delicatessen.

Our three course meal for two with drinks was just over £50, plus a tip, and the Craven Heifer offer matched wines for each course at an additional £19 a head, something to try next time. Both the lunch and dinner menus change daily as it depends on what is in season and at its best; exactly what we are looking for on The Winding Way. The service too was efficient, friendly and with a light touch.  It was excellent value; we have rarely had better meals at twice the price. Unusually, I find myself without any words of criticism. A week after the visit Alison was still telling people at work about it, a real sign of satisfaction.

A Final Surprise

For me, the final surprise came in the gent’s toilet but I will leave that for (male) readers to discover for themselves. It brought a smile to my face.

Subsequently we discovered the chef,  Tom Rennolds, was the runner-up in the MasterChef 2012 competition which explains everything. Our compliments to Tom and his team, we will be back.

The Craven Heifer, Main Street, Addingham LS29 0PL Telephone: 01943 830106

Please mention The Winding Way when you call or visit.

Comments

No Avatar
Craig Minto (not verified) on 26 March, 2015 - 17:59

18/9/12
Hello, I hope this message finds you well. I am so glad that you enjoyed your dining experience at The Craven Heifer, we have put so much effort into the restoration of the building including the release of our seven bedrooms to public viewing. The menu will develop as we do as a venue, changing with the seaasons and also to the demand of customers, this week sees us release our first fixed menu which will stay on for a month and be individually priced as well as the market menu which will change daily and be pre fix. I hope to meet you when you return to the Craven Heifer. Regards Craig Minto Proprietor.

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