ITS MENU currently boasts truffled brill and smoked rabbit with buckwheat and wasabi, but one of Yorkshire’s finest eateries served up an even more unusual item today - the restaurant itself.
The Yorke Arms, a magnificent 18th century coaching house in the Dales village of Ramsgill, went on the market for offers in the region of £1.75m.
Its chef, Frances Atkins, the first woman in the county to win a Michelin Star, and still one of only six chefs in the region with one to her name, said it was a good time for the place “to find someone else to love it”.
She has had the restaurant for 20 years but insisted her decision to move on had been taken without regret, describing the handover as merely “a change at the top end”.
The Yorke Arms, nestled at the end of Gouthwaite Reservoir and just by the Rover Nidd, has held its star continuously since 2003 and specialises in cooking produce produced locally.
Ms Atkins says she will be working on “new projects” but will stay in Nidderdale.
The Yorke Arms, on the site of an 11th century monastic cheesery, had been a popular destination before she and her husband, Bill, took it over.
Its sale now, she said, was “a great time for someone else to give it that extra modern touch. A younger touch, maybe”. Commercial property agents Lambert Smith Hampton described the ivy clad property as “a renowned establishment which has undergone tasteful renovations and refurbishments over the years”.
Its hotels director, Alistair Greenhalgh, said: “The business draws trade from all over the UK in addition to regular, local custom. Its high profile reputation will no doubt generate interest from a wide range of purchasers.”
Ms Atkins, who hails from Ilkley and began her career as an apprentice at the town’s Box Tree restaurant, another Michelin starred establishment, said her husband’s retirement had partly prompted the decision to sell.
“There’s nothing to be sad about. It’s all extremely happy and positive, for our staff and ourselves,” she said.
“We have been thinking about it for some time, and it’s a good time to put a property on the market.”
She described the award of the Michelin star as a particular highlight of her time there.
“Any chef will tell you that it’s one of the best moments in your career - especially when it’s a surprise,” she said.
She had heard the news from a friend of one her chefs, who had at first thought it was a wind-up.
“He came into work and that’s how I found out,” Ms Atkins said.
She and Bill had been running a place in Scotland when she decided she wanted to return home to Yorkshire. They heard through a friend that the Yorke Arms was looking for new management, and ran the place for its former owners, initially offering classy but conventional pub grub like steak and fish, before being given the first option to buy it outright and adding distinctive touches like a vegetable garden out back.
Yet despite its critical acclaim, the restaurant may be best known for its supporting role, alongside comics Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, in the BBC2 series, The Trip, which was seen by 1.2m people in 2010.
“That was a great experience,” Ms Atkins said. “People are still coming here to visit us because they have seen that.”