Yorkshire Life Luncheon - The Wheatley Arms, Wheatley Lane, Ben Rhydding, IIkley
PUBLISHED: 00:00 26 October 2016
Guests join us for lunch at a restaurant that's the bedrock of Ben Rhydding
Report by Jo Haywood Photographs by Andy Bulmer
The charming little village of Ben Rhydding punches well above its weight when it comes to community spirit.
When their local pub faced closure, the residents campaigned hard to keep it, working tirelessly together under the collective opposition banner of SUP (Save Us Pub).
Their crusade was ultimately successful and now, under the guiding hand of owner Individual Inns, The Wheatley Arms continues to pay back its customers for their loyalty and spirited support with genuine Yorkshire hospitality.
‘We’re very grateful to the local community because they campaigned to keep this place open when it was under serious threat,’ said general manager Steve Benson. ‘It’s very humbling to know how much the pub means to people and to know that we really belong.’
Individual Inns, which owns several country pubs including The Fountaine Inn in Linton-in-Craven, North Yorkshire, bought The Wheatley Arms in 2007 from Punch Taverns, which was left punch-drunk by two hard-fought planning battles with housing developers.
In the years since, it has invested time, money and undiluted enthusiasm to successfully reposition the pub at the heart of the community. As well as hosting all manner of fundraising events, The Wheatley Arms now supports the local primary school, donating 25p from every portion of chips sold to school funds, the golf club, the sports club and scouts.
It also supports local suppliers, with head chef Grant Hamblin sourcing his meat, fruit, vegetables, beer and wine from producers who have become friends as well as business partners.
‘He has a passion for fresh, local food that reflects the area we are in,’ said Steve. ‘Provenance is the key to all the dishes he creates.
The Wheatley Arms Lunch
Soused sea bass for starters
Jo Wellock and Steven Crabtree
Jonathan Towler and Rachel Spencer Robb
Lynne and David Lishman
Lynne and Geoff Stone
Rak Jain of House of Townend
Sarah Brookfield Almond, Gillian Wilman
Stephanie and Janine Canning
Stephen Dudley, Richard Sherrington
A main of loin of Bolton Abbey lamb
Richard Shelton of Ilkley Brewery
Apple, blackberry and caramel for pudding
Head chef Grant Hamblin chats to our guests
The Wheatley Arms in Ben Rhydding
Simple yet stylish table decorations set the tone
Wheatley Arms general manager Steve Benson
Anne Crabtree, James Wellock, Richard Shelton
‘He has to keep the menu accessible for our regular customers, but he’s not afraid to try something new. It’s a difficult balance, but he achieves it.’
Grant and his team treated our guests to a fine autumnal menu with earthy beetroot, apple and lamb at its core.
It began with a simple yet delicious combination of piquant pickled sea bass and subtly salted disks of beetroot.
Next came loin of lamb, cooked perfectly pink, accompanied by a deeply savoury fritter and a buttery boulangère with dark layers of black pudding.
When it came to pudding, no one really knew what to expect as the menu simply said ‘apple, blackberry and caramel’. What we got was a silky smooth caramel panna cotta surrounded by dashes of apple puree and halved blackberries that, together, tasted like bonfire night toffee apples – a childhood pleasure given an elegant twist.
‘We get a lot of people coming to us from out of the area because we are a recognised dining destination,’ said Steve, ‘but our strong links with local people are what sets us apart. We like to think we are the bedrock of the community and, as a thank you, many of our neighbours are here today as our honoured guests.’
The Wheatley Arms, which enjoys a lovely leafy location just four minutes’ drive from Ilkley in West Yorkshire, offers 130 covers (plus the bar area) and 12 individually-styled bedrooms (some with private rooftop terraces).
It hosts all manner of events including afternoons of live jazz and a monthly film night, where guests are treated to a two-course meal and a movie.
‘We’re always on the lookout for new ideas and new ways we can get involved in community life,’ said Steve. ‘We are very much at home in the community, and we want the community to feel very much at home here.’
The Wheatley Arms, Wheatley Lane, Ben Rhydding, IIkley LS29 8PP; 01943 816496; wheatleyarms.co.uk
Lishman’s charcuterie and sausages with ales from Ilkley Brewery
Soused sea bass, salt-baked beetroot, apple and horseradish
Stephen Crabtree’s loin of Bolton Abbey lamb, crispy fritter, parsnips and savoy and black pudding boulangère with lamb sauce
Apple, blackberry and caramel panna cotta
Tea, coffee and Whittaker’s chocolates
Chapel Down Brut NV, Tenterden Vineyards, England
One of our best-selling home-grown sparkling wines and a great example of a classic English fizz. A crisp, dry sparkling wine with elegant aromas of red apple, lemongrass and freshly baked bread, together with hints of strawberry, citrus and quince on the palate. Crisp and fresh with lively acidity and fine persistent bubbles.
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Marche, Italy
An elegant and well-balanced dry white, with a bright golden colour and inviting floral aroma. There’s plenty of ripe fruit flavour here, especially peaches, juicy apples and pears, and a fresh, dry finish. Serve lightly chilled to enjoy on its own or with fresh white fish, simple chicken dishes or leafy salads.
Les Argelieres Cabernet Franc, Southern France
A smooth, fruity red with a peppery finish. Dark purple-red in the glass, there are blackcurrant and green pepper aromas, typical of the Cabernet Franc grape variety. Smooth, fruity and medium bodied on the palate with a spicy finish.
Pacherenc de Vic Bilh Collection, Plaimont, Southern France
A sweet wine balanced by crisp natural acidity in a revival of an 18th century style. The golden colour and sparkling tints of this wine give a clue as to its rich, complex nose of preserved fruit (lemon peel), peach jam and white pepper.
:: Wines supplied by House of Townend houseoftownend.com