Restaurant review: Après at the Orchard, Grantley Hall

Après at the Orchard has all the delights of a luxury Alpine retreat, writes Jill Turton.

Tartiflette
Tartiflette

The first and only time I went

skiing I found myself on day two being stretchered down a mountain on the blood wagon and spent the rest of the week in a French hospital with a broken leg.

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I never managed the après-ski thing that friends promised me I’d love, so when I heard Grantley Hall was opening Après at the Orchard, “the ultimate, magical Alpine retreat”, I thought I might chance a bit of “après” Yorkshire-style, without the added risk of breaking a limb.

Ribollita

The Orchard is a large sail-cloth marquee, erected last summer during lockdown and the requirement to eat outdoors. At that time, it was light summery meals, chilled wines and Aperol spritz. For winter, it’s gone all high-altitude, this in a wooded valley five miles from Ripon. Grantley Hall is the Palladian mansion that in 2019 was converted by Valeria Sykes into a glamorous hotel to the tune of £70m. For that kind of money, you get 47 luxurious bedrooms, three restaurants, two bars, a state-of-the-art

spa and acres of carefully manicured gardens, sculptures and water features.

From the young woman at the gatehouse to the greeter in the car park, to the indoor staff who lead us to the Orchard and the one who wishes us bon voyage as we leave, it’s a well-drilled operation. If there are staff shortages in hospitality, it’s not in evidence here.

The Alpine refuge is quite a spectacle. Cream sofas are draped in the softest sheepskin and it’s wall-to-wall fairy lights. A swing seat beneath a seasonal bower is Instagram ready.

Gravadlax and Smoked Trout

If the prospect of dinner in a tent on the coldest night of the year does not instantly appeal, fear not – there are blankets for your knees, furry hot water bottles and I even spot a box of gloves and scarves, though it is perfectly comfortable if not quite cosy.

And the dress code? Some have followed the waiters who are seasonally dressed in jeans and woolly ski jumpers. Those who didn’t get the memo and have gone full sequins and heels.

The idea behind the Orchard is casual-alpine. The menu has French onion soup with Gruyere croutons, flatbreads topped with pulled pork and sauerkraut, hickory-smoked sausages, cheese fondue, warm apple pie and custard. Starters average £12, mains £25.

From a list of cocktails and “winter warmers” comes the mulled apple at a hefty £15. It’s warm apple juice, spiked with vodka, then spiced up with star anise, cinnamon and vanilla, all pleasant enough with a mini mince pie on the side.

Grantley Hall

From the small plates menu, we order ribollita, arancini and gravadlax, though there is nothing small about any of them. All are generous almost to a fault. A liberal portion of smoked trout and gravadlax brings clean, clear slices of salmon, edged with dill that has been beautifully cured and served simply with soured cream. The half a dozen creamy arancini are light on seasoning but otherwise spot on. A hefty broth of ribollita is rich with tomatoes, vegetables and cannellini beans, taken to another level with a basil and walnut pesto.

It was a challenge for 11-year-old William to get his jaws around the buttermilk chicken burger he chose for his main – a bun stacked high with strips of fried chicken, smoked cheddar, coleslaw and a squirt of sriracha mayonnaise. Alongside are the best hot and salty French fries I’ve ever stolen.

The grown-ups dither over tartiflette or fondue. The latter comes with cured meats, potatoes, cornichons, pickled onions and sourdough. Both are punchily priced at £50 for two. The tartiflette wins out and arrives as a gorgeously gooey dish of bubbling Reblochon cheese and sour cream hiding an amalgam of smoked bacon, onion and potatoes. It is hot, very rich and as comforting as a feather duvet on a snowy evening.

At dessert we briefly considered the elaborate “melting Valrhona hot chocolate cake with malted milk, chocolate sauce and homemade marshmallows” but at £26 for two it felt a step too indulgent. We settled instead for a modest, but deliciously intense, blackcurrant sorbet.

Mulled Apple Juice

The bill for the three of us, which included two glasses of wine, came to £144.55. I know, you could fly to a ski resort for that kind of money. The Orchard is pricey. Of course, it is, you’re at Grantley Hall, but context is all.

The flagship Shaun Rankin restaurant will set you back £130 a head with wines on top, making the “Alpine retreat” feel like a bargain.

Portions are substantial. Two courses and a champagne cocktail and you would still have change from 50 quid. If it’s not quite a giveaway, you do get to live like you’re loaded, have a snoop around Grantley Hall on the way to the loo and leave with all your limbs intact. That’s my kind of Après.

The Orchard at Grantley Hall. Ripon, HG4 3ET, 01765 620070, [email protected], www.grantleyhall.co.uk. Open: Wednesday to Thursday, 5-9pm; Friday-Sunday, 12-9pm. Apres at the Orchard runs until March 22. Price: dinner for two approximately £150, including bottle of wine and service.

Three Cheese Arnacini and Tomato Jam
Buttermilk Chicken burger and Fries
Après at The Orchard at Grantley Hall,