The Forge, Middleton Tyas
Two miles from Scotch Corner stands Middleton Lodge, a beautiful Georgian manor house designed by John Carr. It was the childhood home of James Allison and when his parents moved out, he and his wife Rebecca decided to take it on. They spent some £2 million creating a beguiling domain with 16 bedrooms, a spa and two restaurants. The Coach House is the relaxed and cheaper one, while the Forge, in the beautifully restored old forge, is posher and pricier.
The £75 tasting menu has been created by head chef Gareth Rayner (ex Wynyard Hall) along with a five course (£55) vegetarian/vegan menu. Why not go for the wine flight (£45 and £90) in the spirit of John Carr, who was still working in his 80’s, and put his longevity down to ‘never drinking less than six or seven glasses of wine at dinner’.
To help swallow those prices they bring us a couple of rather good snacks: tender little cauliflower croquettes and a prettily presented crisp bread with whipped goat’s cheese and a scattering of leaves and nasturtium flowers.
In the dining room we power through the courses starting with a gorgeous little pot of creamy smoked cods roe and very good bread. A plate of broccoli and artichoke is not as austere as it sounds, soothed with finely grated Parmesan and a touch of sweetness from strips of pickled broccoli stalks.
Pork is the best dish: belly, cheek and jowl. ‘So, cheek by jowl’ quips Mandy. He smiles graciously as if he’s never heard the joke before. With pomme purée, cabbage and peas and a dark, rich gravy.
The dessert is no picture book, but then the best plates of food would never make Instagram. It’s a meld of poached cherries, almonds, cherry sorbet and grated chocolate. A fitting finale to a near perfect dinner.