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The Wensleydale Heifer – wonderful sea food in Wensleydale

After walking the 6 Dales Trail between Otley and Middleham, we had decided to spend an extra night in Middleham and have a rest and relaxation day. We had been for lunch at the Wensleydale Hiefer a couple of years ago for my wife’s birthday so I had decided to book for lunch as a treat to celebrate completing our long trek.

As we had our black lab, I had had to book in the snug which was dog friendly. This was a lovely little area close to the bar.

We were met with a friendly welcome which is always a good sign and the waiter brought the dog a bowl of water and a couple of treats. This is always a relief as some places can be funny about you dining with dogs even if they state they are dog friendly.

We ordered wine by the glass as I was driving. I had a lovely South Eastern Australian First Fleet Chardonnay – it was crisp and dry and perfect for drinking with seafood. My wife went for a Domaine la Prade French Sauvignon Blanc. Also crisp and refreshing and great with fish.

The menu is pretty comprehensive, but the Wensleydale Heifer is famous for its seafood.

When deciding starters we were both attracted to the Heifer’s Famous Chilli Salt Squid.

This was delicious, tender squid, beautifully spiced and lightly fried with coriander and toasted peanuts.

Accompanying the chilli Salt Squid was a refreshing Japanese Wakame Seaweed Salad with a chilli & ginger samyang dressing. It had just the right amount of bite but the seaweed offset the crispy coating of the squid.

When it came to main course – we were both in need of something hearty as we had walked 38 miles in 2 days and burnt lots of calories so felt we had a bit of a free pass when it came to eating today.

My wife plumped for the Heifer’s Famous Fish Supper. I was tempted by this too.

It’s worth noting it comes in 3 sizes – regular, large and giant. If you complete the giant you get a free T-shirt!

This “posh” fish and chips consisted of a piece of fresh Whitby haddock. I always find haddock has more flavour than cod. The haddock was fired in local beer batter and served with “posh mushy peas”, chip shop style curry sauce, scraps and triple cooked fat chips.

When it arrived it looked great – with the little side dishes in pots and a plate printed with a newspaper print detailing the West Witton News – the actual village in Wensleydale where the restaurant is based.

My wife had the regular, and even this sized plate meant that I had to help her out. I can vouch it was really good – the chips were excellent and the fish really fresh. The scraps were a nice treat too.

For main course I had what on the menu was described in bold type as “The Heifer’s Most Controversial Dish!”.

I was not disappointed.

This was Maple Roast Lobster Salad – this consisted of Whitby lobster, king scallops, tiger prawns, crispy belly pork and smoked bacon – what’s not to like?

This was served with baby gem lettuce, shallots, tomatoes and croutons with a maple syrup dressing.

It was unusual but somehow worked. There was a lot of it, plenty of tender tasty lobster, large juicy prawns and scallops. The crispy belly pork was full of flavour its texture complimented the salad and seafood.

Controversial? I’m not sure – you have surf and turf, scallops and chorizo or black pudding and the sweet maple glaze went perfectly with the pork and surprisingly the wetness of the lobster.

A big thumbs up from me.

Bronte our dog looked hopeful during the meal and was rewarded with a chunk of belly pork at the end of the meal.

We couldn’t fit in a dessert – so had a pot of Yorkshire tea. This was served with a little piece of home made Battenburg cake. This helped finish our feast of perfectly.

All the staff were helpful and friendly, the location clean and bright.

A final note must also be made about the toilets. They had been turned into a homage to the saucy seaside postcards of the 1950’s and 60’s.These were produced by Bamford & Company Limited and were seen as quite risque at the time but eventually became part of the British seaside tradition. It obviously linked the seafood restaurant to the sea. I wonder how long before they have to decorate when someone complains they are un-PC?


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