Yorkshire Life Luncheon - Raithwaite Hall, Whitby
PUBLISHED: 16:58 28 May 2014 | UPDATED: 19:59 02 November 2015
Guests join us for lunch at a luxurious retreat on the clifftops near Whitby
The sea gently lapping the shore between bustling Whitby and the more tranquil neighbouring cove at Sandsend was calm – and so was Martin Pick, head chef at Raithwaite Estate, despite having a restaurant full of eager Yorkshire Life guests and a kitchen at full-throttle.
But that’s the way he works: calmly, quietly and with little of the bluff and thunder we’ve come to expect from inspirational, creative chefs.
Maybe it’s because he’s a Yorkshireman – Sheffield born and bred – or perhaps it’s because he has an enviable CV that includes Rockcliffe Hall in Darlington, Vermont Hotel in Newcastle and his own restaurant, Armstrong’s, in Barnsley, but he’s taken on the kitchen at Raithwaite Estate and, in his ten-month tenure, has really made it his own.
‘It’s been a challenge, no doubt about it,’ he said, taking a few minutes out of the kitchen to chat (and gauge the reaction to his gin and tonic granita). ‘But that’s what makes it fun. And just look at where we are – it’s just the best, isn’t it?’
He’s not wrong. Raithwaite Estate is a beautiful 80-acre oasis, tucked into the lush valley between Whitby and Sandsend.
This luxurious country retreat evolved from a striking 19th century mansion, which has been tastefully and sensitively developed to include 45 guest rooms (including a fantastic penthouse), a top-of-the-range spa, The Brace Restaurant & Grill, which specialises in meat reared within a 15-mile radius and fish fresh from the North Sea, and a relaxing bar.
The main hall is complemented by The Keep, a self-contained, 28-room mini hotel that caters for dog-owners who like to holiday with their four-legged friends (there’s even a specialist ‘dog spa’ for all your pooch pampering needs); The Lakehouse, a stunning six-bedroom house with impressive views and facilities to match; and a number of secluded, well-appointed holiday cottages, with work underway on a further 46 residences.
There’s a whole range of activities on offer at Raithwaite, including clay pigeon-shooting organised by outdoor adventure specialists Yorkshire Outdoors, fishing at the on-site lake, moorland cycling and golf at Whitby’s clifftop course.
But, let’s be honest, our guests had not turned out in their best bib and tucker for golf or a quick pedal through the surrounding woodland – they were expecting a meal in a million. And they weren’t disappointed.
Martin and his talented kitchen team served up a truly memorable five-course lunch that began with an intriguing dish that combined a creamy cube of avocado panna cotta with Munchkin-sized bites of roasted fig, asparagus and melon.
Next came a tremendous – or should that be sea-mendous? – trio of salmon, which had been artfully poached, smoked and made into a light-as-air mousse and served with piquant pickled mushrooms and cooling cucumber.
The sous vide fillet of lamb that followed was butter-soft and arranged on the plate with an undisputedly artistic eye alongside edible flowers, bright cubes of mint jelly, sweet roasted shallots, earthy spring greens and a pleasing mounded spiral of marquise potato.
It was Martin’s granita next, made with Mason’s Dry Yorkshire Gin. He’d been worried it wasn’t quite up to scratch, but it turned out to be a deliciously alcoholic palate-refresher that drew so many positive comments from diners that the chef was actually called to the dining room for an impromptu round of applause.
Topping off such a top-class meal can be tricky, but the Raithwaite team pulled it off with aplomb, serving guests an exceptional lemon plate comprising a zesty sorbet, a tongue-tinglingly alcoholic limoncello, a deeply satisfying torte and a rich ripple that led to athletic levels of spoon-delving from diners determined to eke out every last moreish morsel.
Our lunch was not the exception but the rule at Raithwaite, where food of this quality is served every day of the week and where the emphasis is always on fresh, seasonal and, where possible, local produce cooked with creativity and finesse.
‘When I’m cooking Whitby seabass, I love the idea that the fish I’m working with was caught just two minutes down the road,’ Martin concluded. ‘You seriously don’t get fresher than that.
‘I’m really proud of what we’re achieving here at Raithwaite Estate. I can say with some confidence that we’re on our way to the Michelin Guide.’
For more information about Raithwaite Estate in Sandsend Road, Whitby, YO21 3ST, call 01947 661661 or visit raithwaiteestate.com.
Avocado panna cotta, roasted fig, melon and asparagus
Trio of salmon: poached, smoked and mousse with pickled mushrooms and cucumber
Sous vide fillet of lamb, roast shallot, mint jelly, spring greens and marquise potato
Mason’s Yorkshire gin and tonic granita
Lemon plate: torte, ripple, sorbet and limoncello
Loose leaf Yorkshire Tea, freshly ground coffee and petit fours
Laurent Perrier Brut NV Champagne: this is a light, perfectly-balanced champagne offering subtle citrus, toast and spice flavours and a strong structure that gives it good food compatibility.
Chablis, Bouchard & Fils, Burgundy: a clear, golden yellow with fresh, light and fruity aromas, this Chablis is reminiscent of white flowers, fresh peaches, dried fruits, hazelnuts and hints of vanilla.
Château Lugagnac, Bordeaux: this sensational Bordeaux wine has a delightfully complex character with elegantly powerful red and black fruit aromas.
:: Wines provided by Bibendum Wine. For more information, visit bibendum-wine.co.uk.