Paradise with F. R. and J, Harrogate
Until the lockdown Frances Atkins, Roger Oliver and front of house John Tullett had been working together at the Yorke Arms for some 20 years, so when the doors closed and the inn was turned into a wedding venue, the three of them had to decide what to do next.
What they came up with couldn’t have been more different from the well-dressed dining room and the elegant plates that earned Frances the Michelin star she’d held for 16 years. They commissioned a purpose-built, shiny aluminium Airstream food wagon and parked it in a garden centre.
It’s a very cool wagon and Daleside Nurseries at Killinghall near Harrogate is a very good garden centre but it’s still a long way from the fancy pants Yorke Arms. Here dishes are served on disposable bamboo plates and the menu is chalked up on a blackboard, but Frances says it’s not so far from the simple, fresh, nutritious food that she has always championed.
And so it proves. Start with a full English breakfast or avocado, poached egg and Parma ham. Then there is vegetable tart tatin; grilled sardines with tomato and basil. Mains come in a wrap or with spuds: seared scallop, bacon and salmon; duck spring onion citrus; slow cooked lamb with spiced yoghurt and cakes: carrot cake, apple pie and cream cheese, millionaire’s shortbread, coffee and pecan cake and scones with jam and cream.
The enterprise feels a lot less pressured. John Tullett is, as ever, front of house. He’s looking relaxed in his cool khaki apron while Roger and Frances cook in the wagon. The customers she says, are a lot less demanding too.
It’s early days for Paradise Foods. They intend more heating in the greenhouse dining room and eventually a new build down by the lake, but still the informal cafe they have here. When they are not in the wagon or prepping in their unit in Ramsgill, they will be preparing Paradise Hampers, a £60 per person prepared dinner to finish off at home or for special occasion with will cook a private dinner in your home.