Angel Inn, Hetton
The Eagle in Clerkenwell usually lays claim to the title of Britain’s first gastropub, but in Yorkshire we know better. We know that a full decade earlier, in a lovely stone village on the southern fringes of the Dales, Denis Watkins was cooking like an angel and the Angel Inn can count 30 years as Yorkshire’s first gastropub.
Denis was the driving force. His right hand man was John Topham, now at the General Tarleton. Together they made the Angel one of the best food pubs in Britain. When other pubs were still serving scampi and chips, they were serving their Fish on Friday menu. They created Little Moneybags of Seafood – fish wrapped in filo at a time when the filo had to be shipped from Greece – remained on the menu for the next 30 years.
Denis died in 2004 and mother and son gamely continued the business it was never the same without the the funny, charming, irrepressible Denis.
Enter Michael Wignall, former chef at the Burlington restaurant at Bolton Abbey and more recently of Gidleigh Park, who has taken over the Angel and given it a fresh new, paired back look, transformed the former wine cave across the road into a fine dining room and if you want to make a night of it there are nine smart bedrooms.
He presents an elegant menu of modern British dishes both a la carte and a tasting menu. Expect refined dishes of torched mackerel, Cornish lobster, skrei cod with sea vegetables perhaps finishing with a classic rum baba. We think Denis would approve.