Up early again, the dongs of the 8:45 iPhone alarm woke us from our slumber, our muscles slightly stiff from yesterday’s walking. Altering our breakfast choices, Sam tried the kippers and I had scramble egg, before setting out to explore Harrogate. The weather took a turn for the worse and under the cover of umbrella we strolled into town and explored the parks, shops and art galleries.
An exhibition of Neil Simone’s oil paintings was on show; an interesting gallery that alters perspective and creates pictures within pictures that blur the boundaries. I’d love to have bought one, but at £2,000 each I couldn’t afford it. We nipped into Betty’s tea rooms and gasped at the queue that went out and around the corner. It’d be even worse tomorrow, it being Mothering Sunday and all. But we were still full from breakfast and passed up the opportunity. Perusing the estate agents, we gasped at house prices and how much more your money could buy up north.
At the hotel we rested and snacked before driving west to Bolton Abbey, just inside the Yorkshire dales national park. Another ruined abbey to explore, but despite being left to ruin in the 16th century after the dissolution by Henry VIII, a functioning parish church still survives on the site. The spire and adorning buildings are long but gone, and daffodils grow up the sides of their eroding walls.
Beyond the Abbey is a river with stepping stones to cross. Kids, adults and ramblers brave the hop skip jump as the water flows through the gaps. For the less brave a wooden bridge is available to cross.
A trek took us up the side of the valley, with gorgeous views over the ruins and Yorkshire dales. Legs still tired we took the shorter walk, and stopped to photograph the ‘V’ formations of geese flying overhead.
Growing hungry it was time to head to dinner; the piece de la resistance of our holiday and to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. We had a reservation at The Burlington, a coveted Michelin star restaurant, part of The Devonshire Arms hotel and surrounded by beautiful moorland. The car park was adorned with sports cars, and at the entrance were fishing rods and jackets for patrons. We were mildly intimidated.
We smartened and freshened up after our hike and were shown to the cocktail lounge, a 6:30pm reservation, for 7pm dining. In lounge chairs next to a roaring fireplace and Bolton Abbey oil paintings we ordered cocktails, a Kir Royale and a non-alcoholic Cinderella cocktail (Sam was driving). We opted for the ‘Menu Prestige’, a mere £85 each at just thirteen courses. Luckily they provided us with an extra canapé course beforehand.
At 7pm prompt, we were led into the main restaurant, a lavish pink walled affair with large, perfectly polished wooden tables, more oil paintings and a tower of wine glasses in the centre. Like clockwork we were guided to our seats and the waiters appeared from the wings to make us comfortable.
To start, some freshly baked, right out of the oven, bread and seaweed salted butter. We were delicate in our spreading, unbeknownst of the appropriate etiquette. Each course was an event in its own right. The mojito was a cocktail in food form, on a grapefruit jelly base. A black pewter bowl contained our onion velouté, two waiters lifted the lids in sync, and the gorgeous aroma left us salivating. Breaking the egg yolk, its yellow oozed deliciously.
With each course the waitress explained what we’d be eating. Salmon and crab, then veal done three ways, and a creamy rich foie gras. The next dish was scallops, and then a pallet cleansing Verjus with beetroot. Then the big event, our main course. The braised beef came covered in a large clear dome, and filled with steam. Again, at once, the lids were removed to reveal a gorgeous, scrumptious dish.
Near to us a mother and daughter had ordered the same, and were going through the menu at the same speed. At the back a family of five were dressed smartly, two young kids asking the adults intriguing questions from a box of cards: what’s your favourite room in the house? (How big does your house need to be to play that?)
After a short break, and declining the cheese, our meal continued into dessert. A light coriander jelly pre-dessert, then a beautiful rhubarb dish with a quite fantastic champagne foam. Neither of us thought we liked rhubarb, but this was something else, even with its slight homage to rhubarb crumble. And finally the nutty chocolately dessert, with a tart lime sorbé. If that wasn’t enough, we returned to the cocktail lounge to relax with coffee and petits fours, including a rather lovely fennel jelly. On the armchairs we sat, subdued and sated.
I settled the rather large bill and we set out into the night on our journey home, in the silver Chevy, through the thunderous rain and hail, over the dales, back to Harrogate.