Staycation: The Angel, Yorkshire
by Kenny Maciver
Faultless food and an enviable location make this bolthole the perfect spot for a weekend getaway
From its setting alone, The Angel at Hetton confirms most expectations of a perfect stay in the Yorkshire Dales: an ancient inn with origins in the 15th century, with views of honeystone farmhouses and barns, weathered drystone walls snaking across the green fells, and rolling moorland echoing with the calls of curlews and lapwings. But within the serene interior that greets us on arrival, an astonishing alchemy takes place.
The Angel is the base for Michelin-star chef Michael Wignall, and perhaps even more than the landscape, people come to The Angel for its exquisite cuisine. After checking in, we build our anticipation and appetites by taking an early evening stroll. We make for the duck pond at nearby Rylstone, passing along wall-flanked fields and wildflower meadow paths with enchanting names like Fairy Lane and Mucky Lane.
Suitably refreshed, we change and head to The Angel’s bar for a pre-dinner G&T made with its signature gin, a subtle infusion of makrut lime leaves, yuzu and locally foraged elderflowers, served with a sprig of Thai basil and a slice of fresh ginger. The Angel’s restaurant is spacious and airy, with living moss walls, cactus and bonsai complementing its oak-staved walls and grey stonework. We settle in for The Angel’s award-winning eight-course tasting menu and wine pairings.
The dishes presented to us are crafted with precision and imagination, offering sensory delights – and a few nice surprises. It’s difficult to pick highlights, but we loved the delicate weave of Scottish crab flakes and razor clams dressed with a buttermilk dashi, Oscietra caviar, green strawberries and nasturtium leaves. And an A5-quality Wagyu from Japan’s Hyogo prefecture, served with veal sweetbread, Maitake mushrooms, Yorkshire asparagus and a dashi made from smoked brisket, just popped with succulence and flavour.
Afterwards, we chat with chef Michael about his sources of inspiration – Japan, obviously, but also Spain, France and different parts of the UK. But also his passion for sourcing the very best of everything – pigeon from Anjou, turbot from Shetland, organic lamb from Devon. He and his wife, Johanna, took over The Angel in 2018 and bagged their first Michelin star within 12 months.
Next day, we re-engage with another tasting-style menu, this time for breakfast, featuring smoked salmon with crème fraîche, fresh dill and dill powder, soft-boiled eggs, thick slices of Todmorden bacon and Nidderdale sausage, Shokupan milk bread and a choux bun stuffed with marmalade cream. Somehow we tear ourselves away, and start off towards the moors and the Winterburn Reservoir. Not that we have to venture far to start: the circular walk literally starts and finishes at the back door of The Angel.
After, we take the local bus service to picturesque Grassington. The old Dales town is great for wandering, gift shopping and a pub lunch. But it’s also famed for another reason: it’s the backdrop for the TV vet drama set in 1937, All Creatures Great and Small. Back at The Angel, we dial down the evening feasting by selecting from the à la carte. But the consistency is unchanged. Standouts are a delicate Loire Valley rabbit served with lettuce purée, violet artichoke, fricassée of spring peas and pea foam; and steamed Cornish plaice with a confit of La Ratte potatoes and sea vegetables, topped with pike roe cured in ponzu.
Notwithstanding the sophistication of the dishes and its starred status, The Angel doesn’t feel stuffy or intimidating. Rather the multi-skilled team is open and welcoming, and keen to share in their enthusiasm for the food and The Angel’s dining offering. It’s an experience we’d gladly savour again anytime.
How to book
Rooms at The Angel cost from £520 per night (based on two sharing) and include an à la carte or eight-course tasting menu, plus tasting-style breakfast. For more information, visit angelhetton.co.uk