Category: Restaurants

Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa

Arriving at the Feversham Arms on an evening is atmospheric, to say the least. The reception area has a warm golden glow from outside. The reception staff warmly welcomes you, and then you see the outdoor heated pool that emits waves of steam into the moodily-lit outside area. It is very haunting and extremely inviting; it almost feels like Dracula is about to emerge from the mist.

Adjacent to the pool is the outdoor hot tub. The jewel of this hotel’s crown, this affords one of the most wonderfully inviting hotel scenes one might ever encounter. I can imagine on a hot summer’s day sunbathing all day, drinking cocktails.

We stayed in Suite 36, which had a bathroom, king-size bed and separate living area. The bed was very comfy with good quality linen. Our room overlooked the pool, which we could see from its wooden veranda; this was very tired and in need of some TLC.

We had pre-dinner drinks in the homely bar area. The staff was great – not at all pompous. We were disappointed that the bar offered no lagers or beer on draught, and the bar section could have also benefitted from some attention and some new, up-to-date furniture.

The restaurant is possibly the second jewel in the venue’s crown; however, a bit of light music would have gone some way to masking the conversations that could be easily overheard, especially from a large table of ladies who overwhelmed the ambient noise levels.

The food and presentation, though, were off the scale. The new chef here certainly is a step or three above most good chefs. The amuse-bouches, and everything that followed, were as good as from any two Michelin-star restaurant. Each course was better than the previous, and each dish looked like a photograph from a glossy food magazine. Foodies, this is the place for you.

We had a right proper Yorkshire breakfast in our room. The plates were hot, therefore the breakfast kept hot, which is not typical when getting room service. The top-notch breakfast was grease-free and very good quality, and came with about eight jars of jam and marmalade, which found their way in our cases … The only negative was the £10 room service charge, which I felt was unnecessary.

As I was leaving I got a chance to chat to a manager, so I expressed the flaws I had observed. He was well aware of them and told me about the imminent renovation programme, promising that by the summer the hotel would no longer look tired. I could tell he was passionate, and I did express this did not affect our experience.

Overall, the Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa is a great venue with a stunning pool and restaurant, but at the moment it needs a little TLC.

1–5 High St,
Helmsley, York,
YO62 5AG,
Tel: 01439 770766,

THE Billing Tea Room

Rawdon has a right proper hidden gem!

I think many of us are guilty of driving around with our eyes closed and not noticing what is on our doorstep, and prefer travelling to a restaurant/café, as for some reason we believe the ones further away are better than the ones near us. I am certainly guilty of this.

The other day I was driving through Rawdon village, I was hungry and fancied a 10-minute sit down and a cuppa. I pulled up outside The Billing Tea Room café which, I might add, was packed at 2 pm on a wet Thursday in March. The owner saw I had two dogs in the car and told me if I sat by the window and they were good I could bring them in, which I thought was a really nice gesture.

The other diners were all so friendly; everyone was talking to each other, and started making a fuss of my poochies. It was like a social event where everyone was friends — very unusual, but really genuine and different.

The interior can best be described as a village tearoom that oozes traditional charm with no modern quirks. It has around 30 covers and sells eclectic knick-knacks like cushions and honey which adds to its unusual charm.

The three-page menu consists of an all-day breakfast menu, from a full English to eggs Benedict to smoked salmon and scrambled egg. The lunch menu ranges from sandwiches and soup to veg platters and quiches. Then the afternoon tea menu is again varied, with traditional and ‘Gentlemen’s’ tea (never seen that before). There are lots of teas and coffees to choose from and the best cakes you have ever seen.

I ordered a posh fish finger sandwich, soup of the day (traditional Thai soup) and a coffee. Everything was homemade, as you may expect. The fish finger sandwich was served with tartare sauce and was as described: ‘posh’. It was very hearty and just what I needed. The Thai soup was the star of the show and like nothing I have never had. It was fantastic, really fantastic. I was shocked that a little café I drive past all the time could be so good and so friendly and welcoming.

It also does a gourmet evening on the last Friday of every month; each time offering a different country’s cuisine. It’s BYO booze, too — bonus. Apparently, you need to book well in advance.

Try this little café out, the food is so good and it’s great to support small businesses in the area. It’s my new favourite place.

11a Town Street,


LeedS, LS19 6PU

Tel: 07811 009844

Closes 4 pm


The perfect year-round venue


This dog-friendly country pub with dining is situated on the idyllic Baildon Moor, just minutes from the Shipley Glen Tramway.

It serves a range of cask beers, wines and freshly prepared home-cooked food. With the wood-burning stove roaring away in the winter, and the vast beer garden open on summer days, it’s the perfect venue all year around.

The Old Glen House also provides full function facilities, catering for birthdays, weddings, christenings or just a get-together with family and friends. Whether you call in after a walk (with or without a dog), a cycle ride, as a diner or drinker, you can always be assured of a warm welcome.

In the beginning …

The Old Glen House pub was originally Woodhead Farm (at the head or top of the woods). Shipley Glen was so-named by the Minister of the Bethel Chapel in Shipley. It properly consists of Bracken Hall Green and Bracken Hall Crag.

By the last quarter of the 19th century, Shipley Glen was the name that had captured people’s hearts. The buildings have seen many changes over the years, but one thing is certain; it still provides refreshments for passers-by, from the 19th-century drovers to the 21st-century day trippers.

Today …

Today The Old Glen House is a beautiful country pub serving home-cooked food; from a cheese and pickle sandwich to an 8oz-sirloin steak with all the trimmings. In the last year our homemade pies have created quite a stir in the region and now outsell every other dish. You can eat either in the bar area (with or without a dog) with the log fire or in the more refined candlelit dining room.

Current owners Ed and Louise are proud to have regenerated The Old Glen House into the flourishing country bar/eatery it is now. Ed says, “It has taken six long years to get this amazing venue back to its former glory. We have both worked hard and are now seeing that hard work pay off. We look forward to the next six years and wonder what they will bring. Please say ‘hello’ if you pop in. Even though I say so myself, our pies are amazing!”

Prod Lane

Baildon, BD17 5BN

T: 01274 597777



The Agora

Right off the cuff I am putting it out there that this restaurant is superb, as are the über-friendly staff. I cannot praise it highly enough.

This is directly from the restaurant’s website:

“Experience mouth-watering Greek and Turkish cuisine in a relaxed and happy atmosphere. The Agora restaurant is perfect for a spot of lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday or a delicious dinner every evening.

“We are a family-run business, serving a variety of authentic dishes made from only the finest and freshest ingredients. When you choose from our varied menu or ask about our daily specials, you will instantly discover more about authentic Greek and Turkish cuisine.

“From our varied meze platters and slow cooked Kleftiko to our homemade Baklava and imported Mythos and Efes beers. The Agora gives you a real flavour of the culinary delights of the Aegean.” I could not have put it any better.

The owners and staff are so lovely and genuinely friendly. You almost feel like you are in their home. They treat you like friends, even the young staff in their waistcoats (that look a little odd on them …) are friendly; not your typical millennial with a miserable face. I enjoyed chatting to them.

The food is authentic and quite plentiful. To start, we had king prawns that were cooked perfectly. How they offered that many for that price surprised me – extremely good value.

The mains were to die for. All were excellent, but our mixed seafood platter of salmon, bass, prawns, etc., was the star of the show. The fish was exquisite – the seasoning was spot on and it even arrived on fire to add a little theatre. The presentation was just as impressive as the taste. It was the perfect combination accompanied with rice, as I did not want the flavour of the fish drowned out by anything else.

The atmosphere was conducive to an evening of good food and good fun. The live singer made us feel like we were on holiday (the venue hosts live piano music with Sam Levon pianist, and singer, every second and fourth Friday of the month). I was really disappointed that I had driven, as I was settling into good food and a few drinks, but alas I could not drink much; I sooooooo wanted to as was enjoying the holiday vibe.

Since dining here my wife has been twice with friends and one of them has been three times. My only disappointment is it’s taken me three years to discover The Agora.

It is located on New Road Side in Horsforth. You can park right outside, which is a bonus as it was throwing it down the night we ate there. It was 7 pm and the restaurant was already three-quarters full.

The two-course offer runs from Sunday to Thursday ALL DAY, for £14.95 (except special days and the Christmas period). The Agora is open for lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12.00 pm.

Super restaurant and even better staff.

Rockliffe Hall

A luxury home from home

hidden gem in the North East of England, Rockliffe Hall is a five-star luxury golf and spa hotel offering an award-winning spa, an 18-hole championship golf course and a wide range of restaurant options catering for all palates and purse strings.

Whether you are looking for a romantic break, somewhere to celebrate a special occasion, a unique wedding venue or a place to do business, this world-class resort is a memorable destination.

Set in the quiet village of Hurworth, on the edge of the County Durham and North Yorkshire border, Rockliffe Hall’s location is perfect for discovering the treasures of Durham city, the drama of the North East coastline and the rugged beauty of the North York Moors.

Or, with five-star leisure facilities at your fingertips, forget the outside world and enjoy everything that this country retreat has to offer. Relax or be active, celebrate or focus on business – the choice is yours and the pleasure is all theirs.

I have taken the above from their website, as I could not summarise it better.

Driving up to the front door of this opulent building, you are greeted by a porter, who takes your cases and parks your car. You are then immediately met by the reception staff. Everything is very professional and uber-organised, yet extremely relaxed and light-hearted. You are shown to your room, where your cases are already waiting for you.

The rooms are beautiful and immaculately clean. The beds and bedding are crisp and soooooo sumptuous. The bathroom, as you would expect, is modern and fresh. The views over the terrace and golf course are panoramic and lush.

The spa is divided into three areas – one for all the treatments, where cucumber water and cool little touches are abundant; the indoor pool is 20 metres long with a steam room, sauna, juice bar and oodles of beds to just lie on, read a book and wind down; then there is the area outside adjacent to the main pool, where you will experience a small, fully heated outdoor infinity pool, overlooking the golf course. It has more jets and bubbles than any pool I have seen before (great fun) and is guarded by high-end sunbeds with chunky, decadent mattresses on which you can sip champagne, have a beer or enjoy a cuppa. All this is overlooked by an indoor area with heated beds and an expanse of bi-folding doors adjacent to a sauna with a glass front so you can sweat and enjoy amazing views – everything has been thought of. This special area costs £30 for two hours (best to pre-book).

The hotel itself is like a stately home – a traditional feel is accompanied with up-to-the-minute amenities. It hosts two restaurants in the main building and a light snack bar in the golf club house. The main restaurant, located in a Victorian orangery, offers very high-end ‘posh’ food, and there is a bistro-style restaurant upstairs which is more relaxed offering simpler fare. We ate in the Orangery – the food was, quite frankly, outstanding. The chef is a level above the norm. The wine is pricey, I have to say. That said it is a five-star hotel.

We retired to the main bar, which is more like a very big sitting room with a great bar in it. The music being played was right up my street – lots of eighties through to today’s music and it was a decent volume, making for a good atmosphere. There are quiet rooms nextdoor with full waiter service.

Finally, I leave the best bit to the end – the staff! Rockliffe Hall obviously works very hard to maintain a super venue, yet keep everything relaxed. Every single member of staff was fantastic and uber-friendly without being fake in any way, despite Rockliffe Hall being a five-star venue, which can intimidate some people. From the reception girls, who were so funny, to the restaurant’s sommelier – even he was ‘normal’ and that is rare for a sommelier. The head barman was great company and made our evening good fun. Even the guests were friendly.

Rockliffe Hall Hotel, Golf & Spa, Hurworth-on-Tees, Darlington
County Durham, DL2 2DU.
Tel: 01325 729999

The Old Glen House

Proper Pies for Proper Yorkshire Folk

Situated on the idyllic Baildon Moor surrounded by bluebell laden trails, stands The Old Glen House; a beautiful, 17th century stone building, now a country pub. Having already seen it recommended in The Good Pub Guide, a couple of colleagues and I were quick to grab a table when their new pie menu was announced.

On arrival, we were greeted in the pub’s quaint and cosy cruck-raftered bar area, which is well-stocked with regularly rotating cask ales. There is a separate, more refined dining room but as we were visiting with dogs, we were seated in the larger bar area. Might I add, this pub won the Dog-friendly Pub Award for Yorkshire. With treats behind the bar and beds by the fire, it’s not difficult to see why. Here, we properly settled into the country-life vibes this place oozes so authentically. Beside the exposed stone walls and beneath the timber beams, I was handed The Old Glen House’s ‘pie chart’.

There are many cultural signifiers of Yorkshireness. Some wear flat caps, others walk whippets. Most prefer to tuck into a good old pie… and eeh by gum, was I about to. The ‘pie chart’ works like so; choose from the weekly changing pies (some are fixed), then pick a sauce and two sides. We opted for the chicken, chorizo, tomato and leek (£11.95), the steak and black sheep ale (£11.95) and the steak, wild mushroom, black pudding and Guinness (£12.95) with a good mix of sides and sauces. Vegan and vegetarian options are also available.

While our pies were in the oven, we decided to nibble at the Mezze Board (£11.95); a fitting introduction this pub’s passion for locally sourced, quality ingredients. Warm, skewered bread rolls lay atop chunky chorizo, olives and perhaps the most delectable goats cheese I’ve ever tasted. This is a deliciously eclectic take on antipasti, with quirky additions such as smoked salmon, tangy piccalilli, and creamy avocado dip.

Now for the star of the show; our pies were generously portioned and filled to the top of their shortcrust pastries, which were firm but flaky and of the perfect thickness. The meat in the steak pies was lean, chunky and flavoursome, pairing perfectly with any of the three rich gravies on offer. Comparatively, the veg in the chicken pie added a lighter quality as to reserve spotlight for the bold flavours of the chorizo; wholesome comfort food with a vibrant twist, complimented by the garlic sauce. A little seasoning and cheese would have jazzed the side of beans up, but the perfectly cooked bacon savoy cabbage and double-cooked, hand-cut chips made up for this tenfold.

These pies are certainly enough to warrant weathering a wet and windy walk through Shipley Glen this winter. In fact, they actually make it seem appealing. The beer garden may be the perfect spot to lap up the sun over a fresh salad, but there’s something tempting about the reward of a hot and hearty home-made pie as the holy grail of a bitter winter’s walk.

I don’t know whether it was the pies or the welcome, but I found myself leaving The Old Glen House with a warm feeling inside. And for their pie chart? Consider it Yorkshire lass approved.

Prod Lane,  Baildon,  Shipley
BD17 5BN
T: 01274 597777

VIvido, HArrogate

New owners inject dynamic and funky look

Vivido is a funky, über-modern Italian that offers both a feast for the eyes and mouthfeel. But best of all, it has new owners, who are just lovely people.

Vivido is not an inconspicuous restaurant, but sits proudly overlooking this beautiful spa town. It has easy parking directly outside and offers various sections inside, affording privacy yet still creating that typical Italian buzz.

As you can see from the pictures, Vivido has a Marmite appeal. I love it, as did my wife; however, I could understand if some said they did not like it. It has been done out with attention to detail and a careful hand; that much is very apparent. I bet on a cold winter’s evening or a dark, damp winter’s afternoon this vibrant Italian would cheer even the frostiest of hearts.

To help with that, they offer the ever-popular Bottomless Brunch every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 11 am to 4 pm for a two-hour slot. You get to enjoy Prosecco, Aperol Spritz, Peroni and Bellinis – oh and dish from the lunch menu, all for £24.95.

We didn’t opt for that, but we did enjoy garlic mushrooms, £6.95, and grilled prawns in sauce, £8.75. Both were bloody nice; the mushrooms were cooked perfectly – still having that bite without being squishy, and the chef is not shy with the garlic. The prawns were certainly king and, again, not overcooked. If I’m honest, I thought the portion was too big. I never thought I would say that. I don’t know how they make a profit.


he lady serving us was very polite and smiley. She appeared to really enjoy her job; this is refreshing, as so many waitrons can be miserable.

For my main I had a delightful seafood pasta (I asked the chef to make up the dish not from menu). It was stacked with mussels and king prawns, alongside other seafood treats. The pasta was al dente (as it should be), which is difficult when it is in tomato sauce. The chef here certainly knows how to cook. My wife ordered veal escalope with spaghetti Napoli and lemon, £18.95. This dish is not for the faint-hearted; it could feed two. It was outstanding, in both presentation and cookery skills.

A real bonus offered by Vivido is small portions for those who have a lighter appetite. I have never seen this anywhere. I think it is typical of the new owners to try and go the extra mile that maybe other restaurateurs don’t think of.

Vivido is a must for any Italian food lover, but even more, this restaurant is a feast for the eyes and senses. Yes, they do have an Early Bird, too, and a kids’ menu.

16 Cheltenham Crescent,
Harrogate HG1 1DH
T: 01423 566453

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