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A last supper before lockdown – The Angel Inn at Hetton

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

The Angel at Hetton in the Yorkshire Dales had become a bit of a Yorkshire institution over the years and was widely regarded as the UK’s original Gastro Pub.

The building dates back to the 1400’s and I had been lucky enough to be invited along to a wedding there five years ago when it was under its previous ownership. I had also organised an “Ales in the Dales” trip for a few “foodie friends” from my old rugby club with a lost afternoon at The Angel Inn a few years ealier.

With Boris Johnson’s announcement of a second lockdown at the weekend, I suggested a midweek trip out to the restaurant with my wife, for a final hurrah before restaurants get shut down for a month.

I had heard that the restaurant was under new ownership, with the arrival of a new management team in 2018. The restaurant is now run by Michael Wignall and his wife Johanna, whose mission was “to keep everything that the Angel Inn was famous for; fantastic food, a warm welcome and a deep connection with the dramatic Yorkshire landscape – and make it outstanding”.

That is quite a vision, so I was intrigued as to what I would find?

For those unfamiliar with Michael Wignall, he is one of the UK’s most successful and respected chefs. He won two Michelin stars at The Latymer, then did the same again at Gidleigh Park. It didn’t take him long to achieve success at The Angel Inn.

In 2019, not long after taking over the team were awarded a Michelin Star as well as achieving four rosettes at the AA Hospitality Awards.

When we arrived on a cold autumn evening, we received a warm welcome before being shown into the restaurant. The restaurant I remembered was completely different, its décor had changed beyond belief from the old country style pub to a modern, contemporary interior.

But whilst it was brighter and more modern than before, it still felt warm, friendly and cosy even though the wood panelled bar was gone the open fires in each room created a lovely ambience.

We decided to go down the a’ la carte menu rather than the tasting menu and it was a difficult choice as quite frankly I could have eaten anything off the menu.

For starters my wife went for trout and I went for the pork.

We were not disappointed. The trout was cured chalk stream trout and served with purple radish and watercress.

My pork was divine. Salt chamber aged pork which was falling apart with a lovey crackling crust. This was served with baked swede (don’t think I’d had swede for ages and it was so tasty in its own right), oxalis, sprouts as well as Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese which definitely complimented the pork.

For our main course we both went down the fish route, although I was very tempted by the poached and roast rump of lamb, with Morrocan spiced cous cous.

My wife Liz went for the cod, roasted cauliflower, lettuce, macademia & brown butter chicken jus. I did manage to scrounge a fork full and can attest that it was wonderful. The flaked fish cooked to perfections and beautifully presented.

I had chosen the Turbot. I had avoided turbot for a number of years after an incident in The Magpie in Whitby involving a work colleague at the time’s precocious child kicking up a fuss as they had no turbot left. I should not have let the spoilt brat stop me from ordering this wonderful fish for so long!

The turbot was steamed and served with salsify, sea aster & smoked pike roe butter. The sauce was stunning and worked so well with the meaty but tender turbot.

Everything was wonderful, and whilst we didn’t need dessert the fact it could be my last pudding before lockdown I went for the Fig.

Without wanting to go to over the top – what a dessert.

Consisting of 3 parts – vanilla ice cream with fig leaf oil, petit doughnuts and then glazed and confit figs, lemon curd, and custard served on a sable Breton cookie.

My pud was one of the most memorable I have had for a while – stunning.

My wife plumped for the cheeseboard. This had been sourced from the famous Courtyard Dairy, one of my favourite cheese shops run by master cheesemaker Andy Swinscoe up past Settle.

A great selection including Hebden Goats cheese, Stone Beck unpasteurised cow’s milk cheese and Cote Hill Blue. The 6 choices of cheese were too much for Liz, but fortunately I was able to step in and help her out to avoid any embarrassment!

In summary this was a really lovely evening out and it was a fine dining experience in a relaxed atmosphere. The staff were attentive but not in your face and I came away very impressed with the food and I am sure we will get back again when lockdown

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