I visited The Wensleydale Heifer at 1.00pm on a Wednesday afternoon and was initially surprised at how busy it was. It wasn’t long however before I understood the reason why so many people flock to the Heifer, travelling from all over the UK (and even abroad) to dine here.
Founded 11 years ago by father and son team, David and Lewis Moss, the Wensleydale Heifer has become well-known (and loved) for its terrific food and ambience.
1. Fabulous location
You’ll find the Wensleydale Heifer in the village of West Witton and this pretty hamlet has some truly stunning views over the Dales – keep a look out for Penhill which you can climb up via public footpaths from the village itself. The Heifer is dog-friendly in certain areas and has the Gorgeous Cottages ‘Paw of Approval’ so it’s a great choice if you are taking your four-legged friend out with you and it is also an ideal place to stop if you are exploring Wensleydale as it is located right between Leyburn and Hawes.
Both pretty market towns are well worth a visit while you are in this area: Leyburn has lots of independent shops and cafes to explore and Hawes is famously the home of Wensleydale Cheese.
2. Fresh fish and seafood
Fresh fish and seafood are some of the stars of the show on the Wensleydale Heifer’s menu and you’ll find a variety of options included on both the special lunch menu and the a la carte selection.
I chose the herb crusted Hake which was extremely fresh and well-cooked and came served with a delicious risotto. My dining companion (and colleague) Julie Jones went for a rather spectacular salad with king scallop, prawns and lobster. She very kindly gave me a taste of it and I think it may well be my selection for my next visit!
If you are a fan of lobster, the Wensleydale Heifer serves it eight different ways and they also do a pretty mean fish and chips, even winning a Guinness World Record back in 2011 for the largest ever serving (a whopping 101 pounds seven ounces).
3. Dazzling desserts
We couldn’t resist dessert (after seeing how fabulous they looked) and were recommended to try a taster platter to share. It contains a selection of the Wensleydale Heifer’s best sweet treats in miniature so is great if, like me, you find it hard to choose just one option.
All I can say is wow! The mini desserts were all perfectly formed and delicious, ranging from a delicately lavender flavoured panna cotta to a banoffee pie baked Alaska. Other highlights were a creamy crème brulee and a gooey chocolate fondant. I couldn’t really pick a favourite so feel I may have to return and try them all again.
4. Friendly staff
From initially being shown into the cosy bar area to leaving a couple of hours later (with a very full stomach) I had a thoroughly enjoyable time thanks to the delicious food and the friendly and attentive staff. They are a close-knit team, led by father and son owners Lewis and David Moss, and are currently also doing their bit for charity with their ‘Naked Restaurant Calendar’.
I had a little sneak peak and while I can confirm they do appear to be naked you may be pleased to know that there are strategically placed objects to protect their modesty. The calendar is available for sale now on their website and proceeds are being split between four worthy charities.
5. Charming interiors
From a warm and cosy snug (complete with wood-burning fire and comfortable leather sofas) to a bright, airy and deceptively spacious restaurant area, the interiors are all beautifully done. There is plenty of space between the tables so you don’t feel that you are encroaching on other so you can just relax and enjoy the food.
Take a read of the Wensleydale Heifer’s newsletter while you relax in the lounge and make sure you look at the pictures decorating the walls which show the restaurant's history; I’m pretty sure I spotted a picture of Bear Grylls, one of the famous visitors to the restaurant.
If this has whetted your appetite to visit the Wensleydale Heifer, The Old Reading Room cottage is located directly opposite and has two bedrooms and a fabulous wood-fired hot tub in the garden to enjoy.