Rich in mysteries, folklore and history, Hetton in the Yorkshire Dales makes for a romantic getaway or an extra magical family holiday, and The Angel Inn is the best place to stay to ensure you’re immersed in all the enchantment of the stunning Northern valleys.
“Ah, The Angel,” the dog walker replied with raised eyebrows after we’d made his acquaintance on our way back through the wilderness from the beautiful Janet’s Foss waterfall. “Meant to be very nice for the food,” his voice elongates and increases in pitch on the ‘very’. This is our first taste of what’s in store for us at The Angel as the cold crisp January sun sets between the hills of Malham – where Harry and Hermione set up camp on the Limestone Pavement at the top of Malham Cove in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
After our 19 minute drive in the dark between the curious up-and-down country lanes from Malham to the inn, we’d finally arrived at our long-awaited destination. Full of nooks and crannies, swirly patterned carpets, dark wood furniture, and a theme of ivy green and burgundy décor, the gastropub was endearing at first sight and had the charming nostalgic essence of a Yorkshirian bygone era. We were shown to our room, The Sycamore Suite based next door to The Angel with private parking spaces, by a very lovely lady who explained everything we can expect from The Angel from our canapés that would be arriving shortly, to the next day’s breakfast.
Our room was ‘wowing’ with a generously spacious living area, a super modern bathroom with large romantic style bath tub and walk-in shower, a bed made of not-too-fluffy marshmallows, and a glorious private outdoor seating area that allows you to immerse yourself entirely in your own little world while you gaze, literally, at the Yorkshire Dales just over the way. Although fabric styles may have been a little too flowery for my personal taste, they played their part in adding to the olde-worlde-yet-modern homely feel that the gastropub emits across the road. Complete with robes, slippers, fancy bathroom smellies, a marble chessboard, Freeview television, coffee, hot chocolates and teas in a variety of flavours, underfloor heating, and a fully stocked minibar, we can definitely say this room suited us down to the ground – how could it not! It was the most perfect setting to rest our bones after our adventures around Janet’s Foss and Skipton Castle earlier that day.
Once we’d settled in, a waiter brought our vegetarian canapés to the room; two with a sour cream tasting slaw cupped by a melt-in-the-mouth pastry, and two with a crunchy bruschetta base with a perfectly hardened Gouda cheese on top of a nicely sweetened and almost tart cranberry sauce. Both were inventive and diverse creations compared to other non-meat canapés and appetisers I’ve come across yet. Venturing over to next door for dinner, we were showed to our table. To get there we travelled through a variety of intricately decorated rooms until we arrived in the final area which was a more minimal and exclusive space. I could write a review on the bread and butter alone as the two types of bread were just that fluffy and flavoursome and the two types of butter were just the perfect consistency with salts and spices to match the bread so as not to be overpowering. But anyway, it was at that moment we’d realised the raised eyebrows of the dog walker were in a way of distinguished approval, if not a little bit of envy in there too. We were hopeful the cuisine would live up to our new found expectations.
To start we decided upon the fruity feta salad, which had – satisfyingly – equally sized chunks of feta tossed together with watermelon, mango, honeydew melon, pomegranate seeds and olives. This was a luscious selection and each watery juicy fruit was a perfect match for the salty feta delivering pleasantly varied combinations to the taste buds. After reading about the famous dish that helped create The Angels famous reputation, it would have been rude not to order the Little Moneybag. We expected this starter to be a little more shellfish based than it was but the assortment of salmon, halibut, cod, prawns and scallops worked wonders and made a great arrangement of textures. The garlic, tomato and shellfish sauce was tastefully seasoned bringing out the freshness of the seafood inside the parcel.
For the mains I found I was limited to only one choice of risotto, which sounded tasty but as I’m not a fan of this I felt the need to ask for something else! The staff were incredibly friendly and accommodating about this and I was given another menu to choose from. This is when Pascal Watkins, wine connoisseur and one of the family members who owns the inn came over to greet us and continued to apologise for his chef’s lack of imagination for vegetarian dishes. I disagreed completely. Each of these dishes were creative and original compared what I’ve experienced elsewhere. However, I would have been grateful to have more than one option but Pascal assures me this is something he’s working on. The penne pasta I chose was cooked to an enjoyable almost-al-dente firmness which was a good comparison to the soft, brandy-infused, butternut squash and slightly tougher field mushrooms; a fantastic alternative. The beef we’d ordered was cooked to exact request; a perfect pink in the middle surrounded by a thick browned edge that fell apart at the touch (mouth-watering, even to me). It was served over mushrooms and shallots, along with salted spinach, spiced herby mash, and rich, sweet, thin gravy; a ‘taste sensation’ I believe were the words the eater used.
The Angel’s meat and game are all sourced from the Yorkshire Dales and Lancashire, fresh fish from the East and West coasts, legumes and soft fruit from the local farms and everything baked, cooked and produced in their own kitchens to offer an exciting British menu with French and Italian inspirations.
For breakfast, we were both very grateful to see the full Yorkshire breakfast on the menu, veggie for me obviously with a lovely take on the sausage and bacon. The fried eggs were suitably lightly salted and peppered with the perfect runny middle. There was also a buffet with all the usual’s; cereal, fruit, and toast but with a now familiar Angel twist to make it their own. It was lovely to chat to Pascal and some of the waiters who we’d got to know before we left and we were extremely pleased to meet them. And off we went to explore the area some more.
There are plenty of glorious walks to set off on (ask the staff for the best, prettiest, and most challenging routes to take). Just a four minute drive away is the could-be-extra-terrestrial Cracoe Fell, there’s an 11 minute drive to the famous Skipton Castle £8 per person, 18 minutes’ drive to the 12th-century Bolton Abbey, a 10 minute drive from the Angel is Embsay Station from which you can catch a steam train to Bolton Abbey Station, and so many more.
Stay at The Angel Inn from £150 - £200 per night.