To Dine For... Great places to eat

Thirteen in Leyburn

Claudia Blake visits... Thirteen in Leyburn

Vanilla Panna Cotta

There’s a certain smug satisfaction that comes of sitting at your restaurant table – booked well in advance – watching less forward- thinking prospective diners being turned away for lack of space.

It’s not something that usually happens midweek, but Thirteen in Leyburn appears to be an exception to the rule. Why? Well for one thing it’s small: just two modest rooms facing onto Railway Street. For another, the husband-and-wife team that run it have evidently worked hard to develop an enthusiastic local following. » read the full review

Fairhursts Bistro in Middleham

Claudia Blake visits... Fairhursts Bistro in Middleham


There are several places to dine out in Middleham, but Fairhursts Bistro is the one least likely to be discovered by the casual visitor. It’s tucked away behind the Middleham Key Centre, which is itself concealed down a narrow lane at the top of the town. Even if you did stumble across it by accident, you’d be lucky to find it open for business. That’s something that only happens on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

» read the full review

Truffle in Darlington

Claudia Blake visits... Truffle in Darlington

As Grange Road reaches the centre of Darlington it takes a sudden swerve to the left before petering out. Here you’ll find an intriguingly diverse collection of small shops, ranging from ‘Adults Only’ through to some seriously high-end fashion boutiques. Truffle is in there amongst them, squeezed up against what is surely one of the town’s oddest – and probably narrowest – buildings, the former Sloan’s Billiard Rooms.

scallops » read the full review

Headlam Hall

Claudia Blake visits... Headlam Hall

Headlam Hall is a sudden surprise at the end of three miles of narrow lane that zigzags lazily northwest from Piercebridge – an imposing Jacobean mansion looming out of the gently undulating farmland of County Durham.


Over the centuries it has been altered and extended, and today the home built by the Birkbeck family at the turn of the 17th century has metamorphosed in a 40-room country house hotel. Along the way it has accumulated a variety of facilities to tempt its guests, including a spa and a nine-hole golf course. » read the full review

Richmond Grill & Brasserie

Claudia Blake visits... Richmond Grill & Brasserie

For several years I have scratched my head over a poster outside a supermarket in Catterick Garrison. It carries a picture of a scenic backstreet and the slogan ‘Richmond – Britain’s Best-Kept Secret’. Now let’s face it, Richmond’s existence is by no stretch of the imagination a secret. It was named ‘Town of the Year’ in 2009, and thousands of eager visitors delight in its superb Georgian architecture and imposing Norman castle keep every year.

» read the full review

The Burgoyne Hotel in Reeth

Claudia Blake visits... The Burgoyne Hotel in Reeth

I’m not fond of crowds, so Reeth is the kind of place I tend to avoid on sunny summer weekends. On an early autumn evening, though, when there aren’t hordes of folk in boots and anoraks dawdling in front of the scenery, you can appreciate why it pulls in so many visitors. The village itself is a gem, and the panorama of encircling hills is to die for.

Meringue - The Burgoyne Hotel in Reeth

There’s no shortage of places to eat in Reeth, but I don’t imagine anyone’s dining room boasts a finer view than that from The Burgoyne Hotel. » read the full review

The Rose & Crown at Romaldkirk

Claudia Blake visits... The Rose & Crown at Romaldkirk

Sometimes I despair of this country, I really do. But then along comes one of those perfect moments – like sitting in a quirky old coaching inn in a picture-postcard village on a golden July evening, nursing that all-important first glass of wine – and I wonder how anyone could ever want to be anywhere else.


Coaching inns… well, you know the ropes. Ancient beams, oak panelling, brass bits and bobs, open fires ready and waiting to burst into flame when our pitifully short summer stutters to a halt. » read the full review

The Black Swan at Oldstead

Claudia Blake visits... The Black Swan at Oldstead

scallopAfter twenty years of sampling what the North East’s eateries have to offer, it seemed like high time to push the boat out and stump up for a meal in a Michelin-starred restaurant. Of course some of the up-and-coming places we reported on (most recently The Raby Hunt) have subsequently gone on to earn themselves a star. But why not celebrate Dales Life’s anniversary by visiting a place that has already bagged that coveted accolade – and managed to hang on to it for a year or two into the bargain? » read the full review

The Hack & Spade at Whashton

Claudia Blake visits... The Hack & Spade at Whashton

The Hack & SpadeFor a place that’s just two or three miles as the crow flies from Scotch Corner, the village of Whashton feels surprisingly secluded. Access is by way of a narrow, single-track lane that branches off from the Ravensworth end of the Richmond to Ravensworth road. The only alternative is to follow an even tinier, muddier and more claustrophobic lane that bumbles up the valley from Gilling West.

Whashton is a small, neat place, consisting of little more than a couple of farms and a handful of four square cottages, most of which are set around a sloping village green. » read the full review

The Wensleydale Heifer at West Witton

Claudia Blake visits... The Wensleydale Heifer at West Witton

The Wensleydale Heifer is the kind of place that probably once sported a signboard showing one of those huge, brooding, foursquare cattle. And quite possibly served up equally huge, brooding, foursquare meals. For several years now, though, it has been a boutique hotel and restaurant. Fish dishes are its speciality and, to underline the fact, The Heifer’s current signboard depicts a cartoon cow wedged into a woefully small boat, reeling in a plump fish. » read the full review