Us Londoners may love our fair city, but when offered the chance of a weekend away from planned track closures and whatever freezing cold pop up is trending on Twitter, it doesn’t take much to persuade us! And with such a green and pleasant land only a train ride away, the real question here is just where should you go for the ultimate weekend break? Well my friends I think I’ve found the answer.
The Coach House is the newly renovated country style hotel set up as part of the gorgeous Yorkshire estate Middleton House in Darlington, just a two-hour train journey from Kings Cross. Set in beautiful woodlands and totally cut off from anything remotely urban, these beautiful farm-like buildings house a handful of bespoke rooms, a modern bar and a brand spanking new restaurant that has locals singing its praises.
Welcomed by the warming smiles of the bar staff, the trials and tribulations of the Northern Line instantly melted away.
It was no time at all before we were skipping up the steep flight of stone stairs that lead to the bedrooms (and being warned of the dangers of attempting this climb in high heels), beaming expectantly at the door to our weekend home. And boy were we not disappointed.
The Coach House has been given a modern make over that oozes with style but maintains that quintessential, weekend-in-the-country rustic charm. Our huge corner room was the perfect combination of paired back contemporary mixed with bucolic comfort.
Exposed wooden beams, a roll top bath and a humongous, pillow clad bed were the most eye catching features of the room, decked out in subtle taupes and teals, whilst personal touches like heavenly scented toiletries and an uber posh Nespresso coffee machine made us feel right at home.
The next day we were greeted by the sunshine attempting to break through the thick Yorkshire mists, so decided to don the wellies and get rambling around the estate, spotting squirrels amongst the picturesque woodlands and exploring all the nooks and crannies the surrounding buildings have to offer. Hungry work I think you’ll agree, and luckily for us dinner was calling.
Set up in a converted barn, the lofty Coach House restaurant is decorated simply with prints depicting hunting scenes (oh so rural), pastel blue wood panelled walls and elegantly modest glassware. It is convivial, fun and casual, all the while feeling special to eat in.
We started our evening with a wonderful glass of refreshing English wine, before uhming and aahhiing over what to order, a difficult task given the multitude of equally tempting choices.
The steak tartare came first, a delicious rough chopped fillet of beef just touched with tangy gherkins, unctuously rich when mixed with the gleaming egg yolk that sat on top of it.
The scallops, however, were the winner of the first course. Just touched by a screaming hot pan, these firm and sweet scallops were complemented perfectly by addictively peppery rounds of celeriac and golden crumbed balls of sausage meat. In terms of flavour, texture and presentation it was faultless.
Mains were the suggestion of maître d Glen and his charming Yorkshire brogue, mine being the roasted duck breast with crispy quinoa. The duck breast was tender and seasoned beautifully, and the crunchy cumin that was peppered throughout the quinoa gave a fantastic bitter note amongst a puddle of sweet red wine sauce.
An off menu special of pheasant was the second suggestion, and appeared as a burnished breast, a rich and delightfully savoury slow cooked leg, a velveteen pomme puree and mounds of crunchy fried kale. It was a carnivores delight, meatiness meeting decadence in the most refined way imaginable.
We were forced (she says, looking dreamily into the distance at the mere memory) to try the white chocolate ganache, a twee pot of thick sweet chocolate with a lighter than air pistachio mousse and a salty biscuit crumb. My co-eater and avid football fan – don’t hold it against him – gave it a better compliment than I ever could: ‘It was so good it made me get over the Arsenal result’. Praise indeed!
The Coach House, Middleton Lodge Kneeton Lane Middleton Tyas DL10 6NJ
For more information visit middletonlodge.co.uk