Rural restaurant named one of the best in Britain

NAPB 1311051AM5 Frances Atkins. (1311051AM5)
NAPB 1311051AM5 Frances Atkins. (1311051AM5)

A restaurant in Nidderdale which holds the Harrogate district’s only Michelin star has now been named one of the best in Britain.

The Yorke Arms, in Ramsgill, has taken third place in The Sunday Times top 100, making head chef Frances Atkins the highest ranking female chef in the country.

It is the latest in a string of accolades for the Nidderdale inn, which has held the district’s only Michelin star since 2003.

“It’s an amazing honour,” said Mrs Atkins. “We’re absolutely delighted and thrilled. But of course we don’t do it on our own. It says a lot for the whole team here.”

The Sunday Times Food List, now in its fourth year, was published last weekend based on 80,000 reviews.

The Yorke Arms, which ranked 28th in last year’s list, is the only one in Yorkshire to feature. The average price per head for a three-course dinner, with coffee and half a bottle of wine, is £89.

Mrs Atkins bought the 18th century coaching house 16 years ago, with the aim of running a small country inn. But her love of cooking and skill in the kitchen has given the restaurant a strong reputation for modern British cuisine.

“I’ve always cooked, I love cooking,” said Mrs Atkins, who trained at The Box Tree in Ilkley.

“It’s been a part of my life since I was a small child, and it’s evolved as time’s gone on.

“We bought the Yorke Arms with a view to running a country inn. But essentially we’ve always had a focus on food. That’s what we do best.”

The restaurant uses locally sourced food, while the menu is based on seasonal ingredients. And almost all vegetables are grown in its gardens.

“We try to be self sufficient,” said Mrs Atkins. “I’m very keen that we use local produce. I hate the term signature dish - I enjoy using the freshest ingredients we have on that particular day.

“At the moment that means grouse, partridge, woodcock when we have it. Our beef comes from the fields behind us. Our vegetables from our garden. It’s a nice thing to do and we are fortunate enough to have a whole field to do it.”

One of the restaurant’s biggest strengths, adds Mrs Atkins, is its location.

“It’s such a beautiful area - it really is God’s own county,” she said. “We hope our cooking represents Yorkshire. Visitors come here for a northern experience, rather than for food that is universal.”

Staff have been celebrating this most recent accolade, which Mrs Atkins says came as a “fabulous surprise”. But the challenge never ends.

“You’re only ever as good as your last meal”, she said.

It’s onwards and upwards from here.”