Review-The Farmhouse, Harrogate
There is no shortage of restaurants in the Harrogate area, whether in the town centre or further afield in one of the villages dotted around nearby.
But we had specific requirements. It had to be within walking distance of Harrogate Theatre where we were going to see the original Cockney Rebel Steve Harley and his acoustic band and there had to be a good selection of vegan dishes offered, though not exclusively a vegan menu.
We found the perfect spot – The Farmhouse on Station Parade, underneath the Everyman Cinema.
Parking in Harrogate was remarkably easy and we got a spot a few hundred yards away from the restaurant. A welcome development as the evening of our visit coincided with the tail end of Storm Ciara and was beset with fierce winds and lashing rain: we were almost blown through the doors and into the sanctuary of the warm restaurant
Clean, bright and welcoming with a bowl at the door signifying that dogs were welcome – not that we’d brought one, but it was nice to know.
We’d alerted staff to our tight timescale when booking and they checked again when we needed to be on our way to the theatre before seating us at a table in the middle of the room.
Spotting a cosy four-seater banquette in the corner we asked to be moved and, as it was early and the restaurant fairly quiet, they were happy to oblige.
The Farmhouse, which is an all-day restaurant, open for breakfast from 9am, is furnished in an eclectic fusion of slim wooden tables with ‘schoolroom’ chairs, old church pews, tin cladding on the walls and lots of full-length windows and doors making it bright airy. Though there were only a few dining on that miserable mid-week evening, I imagine even when full the nicely spaced out tables wouldn’t elicit a feeling of overcrowding and claustrophobia.
As we were on a rare night out and, in celebration of the fact that we’d braved the weather, we decided to treat ourselves to a couple of cocktails: a hibiscus gin sour and an espresso martini (an indulgent £7.95 each). They arrived without frills or fanfare and really hit the spot.
The menu is not extensive but has plenty of variety and my vegan friend had no difficulty in finding something to order. We were told that much of the food is sourced locally and our waiter knew enough about the dishes to make informed recommendations.
After deliberation, my dining companion went for a whole head of cauliflower ( £6.25) cooked in soy, chilli and mirin sauce – a type of Japanese rice wine sauce – and couldn’t praise it enough. I was allowed a morsel under duress and I had to admit the collection of different flavours worked well together.
I opted for the vegetarian grilled halloumi skewer (£8.95) which was accompanied with a leafy salad, infused in basil oil and served on a sourdough croute. Again, the presentation and the flavours could not be faulted.
For the main course, I was persuaded by the waiter to order the Korean beef short rib bowl (£18.95) a beautifully tender piece of braised beef on the bone with kimchi (a famous Korean dish of salted and fermented vegetables) spring onion, sesame seeds and a mix of wild and basmati rice.
My companion had Vebab (£9.95) a shredded B12 vegan patty on a Turkish flatbread, pickled onions, roasted peppers and courgette, shredded leaf, tomato and red onion salad. So authentic was the taste, she had to call the waiter over to check she’d not been given meat by mistake.
Deserts were ordered but didn’t materialise and it became apparent we were running late. Turned out that the chef had been a little late putting the apple crumble in the oven (my choice). The manager apologised and gave us a couple of complimentary chocolate brownies topped with vegan ice cream to take out..
There’s clearly been a lot of thought gone into making the Farmhouse appeal to just about every demographic: families, couples, groups and solo diners are catered for and the staff are friendly and attentive without being overbearing. Our only gripe, one waiter decided to move and clean a stack of high chairs quite near to our table – a job that should have waited until the restaurant was empty. After the concert, we were on our way back to the car and noticed the restaurant was still open so asked to use the ‘facilities’. A request which was graciously granted. We got into a conversation with the chef who was taking a break from the kitchen prior. He said he was the father of the owner Jordan and was clearly very proud of his son’s success.
And so he should be. The food is wholesome, beautifully prepared and served and there has clearly been a lot of thought gone in to deliver a well-rounded dining experience for all.
Address: Unit 1, Westgate House, Station Parade, Harrogate, HG1 1HQ
Telephone: 01423 313010
Opening hours: 9am - Sunday to Thursday; 9am-10pm Friday and Saturday