Situated in the glorious Yorkshire Dales, The Angel at Hetton is a pub-cum-restaurant with a long-standing reputation, and a place that had been on my list to visit for quite some time. I love a quality pub restaurant anyway, but of course, what really peaked my interest was the arrival of multi award winning chef Michael Wignall as Chef Patron in September 2018. I was anticipating some top rate food as I visited with my wife, young daughter and baby son on a sunny March Saturday to celebrate my son's birthday.
Due to travelling a long way (and some unexpected traffic) we were about five minutes late arriving for our reservation, but there's quite a few parking spaces directly in front of the building providing easy access. The place itself has been nicely spruced up and the restaurant area in particular was pretty immaculate I would say; very much in line with a lot of the other leading pub restaurants we visit. The welcome on arrival was perfectly pleasant and we were shown through to our table, complete with a high chair ready and waiting (always a good sign).
We were there for Saturday lunch; there's a full carte menu plus a tasting menu and alongside those, a very impressive children's menu as well with some properly thought out dishes. There's a comprehensive wine list also with a good range available by the glass. I stuck with G&T's for my meal; there's no Hendrick's (the waitress informed me they like to not be too mainstream with the gin selection) so I had Pollination instead, which ironically is a gin every single new restaurant seems to offer now.
Lunch began with some nice sourdough bread (albeit it's made off site) accompanied by some good butter and very enjoyable whipped beef dripping. First up for me for the meal proper was the suckling pig with a parsnip puree and bark, cider and pork crackling. I had high hopes for this dish and to be honest it was a bit of a let down. The flavours were good but whilst one piece of pork was cooked beautifully, one piece would have been borderline suitable for re-soling my shoe; consequently it wasn't especially pleasant to munch through. My wife had better luck with an excellent mackerel dish and my daughter's macaroni cheese was very tasty also.
There was a very noticeable wait in between the starters being cleared and the mains arriving, must have been in excess of twenty-five minutes. Fortunately, when it did arrive, my turbot was worth the wait, it was an excellent plate of food. The cooking of the fish was faultless and the accompanying cep veloute and charred leek really elevated the dish. It probably didn't need it, but it was even accompanied by a little pot of absolutely sensational mashed potato. I've had some good mash over the years, but I genuinely can't recall any better than this. My wife's duck was a very good plate also (albeit she wasn't thrilled by one of the accompanying gels) and my daughter enjoyed some good quality sausage and mash too.
For dessert, my wife originally opted for the hazelnut parfait before our waitress told us helpfully that this would take twenty minutes to make, not usually an issue for us but when you've been sat waiting a long time for the other courses and your kids are starting to get a bit restless, it's good to know. In the end, the desserts we did order took more than twenty minutes to arrive anyway!
Again though, my dessert was worth the wait, a delightful and technically skilful combination of rhubarb and white chocolate in various ways, very impressive. My wife enjoyed her cherry and chocolate slightly less, but we both agreed it was still a very accomplished dessert. The cherry and chocolate kids dessert for my daughter was in effect a scaled down version of that, the scrumptious doughnut being a particular highlight on both versions. I did order a glass of dessert wine to go with my dessert and sadly, it never arrived, which was disappointing, but at least I wasn't charged for it.
And so, a largely enjoyable meal came to an end. The staff on the whole were excellent and perfectly child friendly, but there's definitely some service issues here with long waits between courses and little slips like drinks being forgotten. We would ordinarily have taken coffee (especially as I spied some interesting looking p4's on another table) but the length of time the meal took just made that infeasible given we were eating with the kids. Even though I mentioned it when booking, and just a couple of days before the reservation when I received the confirmation call, there was no mention whatsoever of our son's birthday either, which was a shame as it was his actual birthday on the day.
Those niggles aside, the star of the show is rightly the food, but even though this was largely excellent, one or two of the courses we ordered did leave us feeling a tad disappointed, although I accept maybe my expectations were perhaps a little high. Overall, although there's room for improvement in a couple of areas, this was still a very enjoyable family lunch and I'd be very happy to venture back at any point in future.
|Ratings||Michelin Guide||AA Guide||Good Food Guide|
|At time of review||-||3|