SOMETIMES it’s not precisely what you eat that makes the memorable impression… it’s where you eat it.
Not that such a trite statement is made in any way to detract from the quality of food and service at The Milburn Arms. It’s more a matter of emphasising the totally pleasurable experience of dressing up a sunny spring weekend with an away-day to North Yorkshire, an al-fresco lunch with a view of the countryside and a warm welcome, unheard of in the city.
The Milburn Arms Hotel and Priory Restaurant forms an imposing central focus of the utterly charming, quaint and tiny village of Rosedale Abbey. Its gardens are lovingly tended and inviting. In fact, it has a way of issuing unspoken invitations on sight.
From the village it is possible – indeed advisable – to walk this lovely dale, experience the giddiness brought on by breathing unpolluted air and give yourself a serious talking to about how you might just be wasting time on exhaust fumes, sick buildings and wage-slaving when you could be finding life’s proper quality under blue spring skies.
That’s the time to stop for lunch – before maudlin depression sets in. Somewhere friendly – and there’s no friendlier spot anywhere than the Milburn.
To tell the truth, first glimpses into the olde worlde lounge bar with its roaring fires and no lights on anywhere, were a bit of a surprise. Gloomy, to say the least.
“A power cut,” he said. “Just what we need on a beautiful start-of-season Saturday.”
We could see his point but as we became accustomed to the indoor light – or lack of it – we also felt reluctant to leave. He was welcoming us as one would old friends.
“I can offer you hand pulled beers, bottles or spirits,” he said with a smile. “If you want to eat, we can cook with gas. Is there anything you’d like? We’ll do our best for you.”
Can’t say fairer than that. And actually we did know what we’d like – we’d been thinking about it for hours.
“Steak – big, juicy, fillet or sirloin – cooked medium, crisp fresh mixed salad, fries – fat ones – and wine. And all in the garden with a view of the spring flowers, blossom trees and new lambs on the hillside.”
All right, so it might have taken chef a moment or two to crank up his gas stove in a candlelit kitchen. He might well have groaned slightly as our order was taken to him in the gloom of his power cut work station. But all credit where it is definitely due, he delivered beautifully.
Two sirloins, prepared impeccably, with all ordered accompaniments, 11.95 each. And he made our day perfect.
Now, this might not have been the most complicated meal in history. It was probably the simplest on the Milburn’s extensive menu. But it was utterly perfect as an outdoor feast in an idyllic setting on a beautiful day.
Yorkshire’s Dales are unbeatable when the sun shines. And the landscape around Rosedale is breathtaking – especially in spring when there is very real evidence of rebirth everywhere you look.
Rosedale Abbey village is like a page from an old English picture book. Pretty cottages with church-like windows overlook a little village green which is itself bordered by tea rooms serving home-baked treats.
There’s an art gallery showing local works, a glass-blower’s workshop selling highly-priced but highly-prized pieces, a little general store and two pubs. What else would anyone truly need?
Walk the hill out of the village and vistas of what this county’s city and townsfolk so foolishly and frequently forget, open out in explanation as to why this is known as “God’s own country.” There can be nothing more beautiful than rural Yorkshire in sharp, spring sunshine.
It is a treat which cries out for inclusion of mid-day indulgence. And that is exactly where the Milburn Arms slots in to complete the experience, with good, wholesome, simple fresh fare of the highest quality, enjoyed in intoxicating fresh air.
See? It’s not always what you eat that makes the memory. It’s where you eat it that counts.
The Milburn Arms Hotel, Rosedale Abbey, is some 10 miles out of Pickering on the road signed to Cropton.
Telephone: 01751 417312. Advisable to book for the restaurant and for rooms.
Credit Cards: Yes.
Parking: Yes but limited.
Smoking tables: Yes.
Disabled access: Adequate but help would be needed for wheelchairs.
<b>Five star ratings</b>