Restaurant review

Restaurant Review: After at the Orchard, Grantley Hall

Tartiflette

The first and only time I went there

ski I found myself on the second day lying on a mountain in the blood wagon and spent the rest of the week in a French hospital with a broken leg.

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I’ve never had the après ski that friends promised me I’d love, so when I heard Grantley Hall was opening Après at the Orchard, “the ultimate magical alpine retreat”, I thought I could risk a little “after” Yorkshire fashion without the added risk of breaking a limb.

Ribollita

Le Verger is a large sailcloth marquee, erected last summer during confinement and the obligation to eat outside. Back then it was all about light summer meals, chilled wines and Aperol spritz. For the winter, it’s all at high altitude, in a wooded valley eight kilometers from Ripon. Grantley Hall is the Palladian mansion that was converted in 2019 by Valeria Sykes into a glamorous £70million hotel. For that kind of money you get 47 luxurious rooms, three restaurants, two bars, a state of the art

a spa and acres of manicured gardens, sculptures and water features.

From the young woman at the gate to the greeter in the car park, including the interior staff who drive us to the Orchard and the one who wishes us a good trip on leaving, it’s a well-run operation. If there are staff shortages in reception, it is not obvious here.

The alpine hut is quite a sight. Cream canapes are draped in the softest sheepskin and it’s all about wall garlands. A swing seat under a seasonal arbor is Instagram-ready.

Gravadlax and Smoked Trout

If the prospect of dining in a tent on the coldest night of the year doesn’t instantly appeal to you, fear not – there are blankets for your knees, furry hot water bottles and I even spot a box of gloves and scarves, although it is perfectly comfortable if not quite comfortable.

And the dress code? Some followed the waiters dressed seasonally in jeans and woolen ski sweaters. Those who didn’t get the memo and put on lots of sequins and heels.

The idea behind the Orchard is casual-alpine. The menu features French onion soup with Gruyere croutons, flatbreads topped with pulled pork and sauerkraut, hickory smoked sausage, cheese fondue, warm apple pie and custard. Starters cost an average of £12, main courses £25.

From a list of cocktails and ‘winter warmers’ comes the £15 hot apple. It’s hot apple juice, spiced up with vodka, then spiced with star anise, cinnamon and vanilla, all quite enjoyable with a mini meat pie on the side.

Grantley Hall

On the small plates menu we order ribollita, arancini and gravadlax, although there is nothing small about any of them. All are generous almost to the point of fault. A generous helping of smoked trout and gravadlax brings clean, clear slices of salmon, edged with dill that has been beautifully dried and served simply with sour cream. The half dozen creamy arancini are light on seasoning but otherwise perfect. A thick ribollita broth is rich in tomatoes, vegetables and cannellini beans, taken to another level with a basil and walnut pesto.

It was a challenge for 11-year-old William to get a feel for the buttermilk chicken burger he had chosen for his main course – a bun stacked with strips of fried chicken, smoked cheddar cheese, salad cabbage and a squirt of sriracha mayonnaise. Next are the best hot and salty fries I’ve ever stolen.

The grown-ups procrastinate over a tartiflette or a fondue. The latter is accompanied by charcuterie, potatoes, pickles, pickled onions and sourdough. Both are priced at £50 for two. The tartiflette wins out and comes as a beautifully gooey dish of bubbling reblochon and sour cream hiding an amalgam of smoky bacon, onion and potatoes. It’s warm, very rich and as comforting as a feather duvet on a snowy evening.

For dessert we briefly considered the ‘Valrhona fondant hot chocolate cake with malted milk, chocolate sauce and homemade marshmallows’, but at £26 for two it seemed too indulgent. Instead, we settled for a modest but deliciously intense blackcurrant sorbet.

Hot apple juice

The bill for the three of us, which included two glasses of wine, was £144.55. I know, you could fly to a ski resort for that kind of money. The orchard is expensive. Sure it is, you’re at Grantley Hall, but context is everything.

Flagship Shaun Rankin Restaurant will set you back £130 a head with wines to boot, making the ‘Alpine Retreat’ a bargain.

The portions are substantial. Two courses and a champagne cocktail and you’d still have change from £50. If that’s not quite a giveaway, you can live like you’re loaded, snoop around Grantley Hall on your way to the toilets, and walk away with all your limbs intact. This is my kind of After.

Grantley Hall orchard. Ripon, HG4 3ET, 01765 620070, [email protected], www.grantleyhall.co.uk. Open: Wednesday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday-Sunday, 12 p.m.-9 p.m. After at the Orchard runs until March 22. Price: Dinner for two around £150 including bottle of wine and service.

Arnacini with three cheeses and tomato jam
Buttermilk Chicken Burger and Fries
After in the orchard at Grantley Hall,


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