March 5, 2020
At the cross-section of the North East and North Yorkshire lies Middleton Lodge, a Georgian country estate set in 200 acres of glorious woodland.
Comprising 45 bedrooms, two restaurants, treatment rooms and two wedding venues, Middleton Lodge is more of an intimate community than a stately home. Dating back to 1780, the 16-bedroom main house does tick all the boxes in terms of 18th century extravagance.
Driving through the abundant woodland to get to the main estate buildings, you can almost touch the fresh air, a feeling that suddenly alerts you to the fact that you are now entering a place where relaxation is the only rationale.
In terms of dining options, there’s something for every occasion at Middleton Lodge. For our business lunch, the Coach House made the perfect match.
From the Mediterranean-inspired garden square to the most beautiful floor-to-ceiling arched doors, it blends traditional farmhouse with modern, upmarket furnishings.
Step inside and exposed wooden beams hold up the ceiling overhead while crumbling plaster work creeps down the walls giving a sense of history to the place. Soft grey wood panelling separates the peeling walls from plush dining tables and chairs. Industrial brown shelving units adorned with all manner of Edwardian era amenities separate the room.
My colleague and I were warmly welcomed, taken through the restaurant and shown some of the private dining rooms, which evoked the same sense of country pile grandeur as the rest of estate.
Back in the restaurant and a generous lunch menu was awash with dishes created using fresh produce grown in the estate’s own walled garden.
We decided to share a selection of snacks for the first course. These were sourdough bread and butter (£2), crackling and apple puree (£3.50), hot Brindisa chorizo (£5), breaded feta cheese (£3) and two shucked seasonal oysters with shallot vinegar, tabasco and lemon (£2.90 each).
After amusing ourselves at the lack of grace with which we ate our oysters, we got onto the small plates. Thin sticks of salty crackling were stood upright in a glass ramekin of creamy apple puree – pure indulgence.
The chorizo and breaded feta were thoughtfully presented in cast iron serving dishes, in keeping with aesthetic of the Coach House. Both were also incredibly tasty – the chorizo had been sealed so as to keep the paprika juices locked in while the feta was complimented by a delicious tomato chutney.
For mains, we ordered 8oz rump steak with fries and salad (£25) and at the recommendation of our waiter, the fish and chips with tartare sauce, crushed peas, pickled shallots and herb garnish (£14).
The way a restaurant serves its steak is always a good benchmark of culinary expertise and here Middleton Lodge disappoint. The medium-rare steak was nicely charred on the outside and warm all the way through, without losing that pink and tender middle. The flaky fish was served on a bed of precision cut chips and complimented by the most delicious tartare sauce.
We were tempted into desserts of sticky toffee pudding (£7) and vanilla panna cotta with poached Yorkshire rhubarb and toasted almonds (£7.50).
The sticky toffee pudding was light, sweet and fresh while the panna cotta was notable for the choice of rhubarb – such a dish is traditionally matched berries or fruits of the forest. But it worked very well and when combined with toasted almonds made for a satisfying end to what had been a very pleasant meal.
From start to finish, staff were both congenial and at ease, particularly when it came to the pacing of the courses. Timing can have a huge impact on the dining experience and at Middleton Lodge, they got it perfect for a busy Thursday afternoon service. We could have sat there all afternoon.
Middleton Lodge will appeal to a wide range of tastes and at the very south of the region, could make the perfect meeting point for a business lunch with a client or colleague from one of the other nodes of the Northern Powerhouse.
Middleton Lodge Estate