Middleton Lodge Estate has plenty of exciting new projects in the pipeline – making it one of the most sought-after staycation addresses in the North. Whether you’re visiting for a winter wedding, a suite stay, or for a food-fuelled getaway, this place is packed with unique – and very luxe – experiences. From its wow interiors and stunning grounds, to its seasonal menus and local sips, it’s ticking all the boxes as a base for foodies in the North East.
You’ll find little pockets of rustic paradise scattered across the estate – with the Coach House sitting at its heart. Throw in a Georgian country mansion, a whimsical walled garden, quaint cottages and the estate’s newest venture – the Forge restaurant – and you’ve got the ultimate country retreat in a quiet spot just moments from the A1.
A winding, tree-lined path will bring you to Forge’s cute courtyard – home to twinkling fairy lights and fire pits. Head inside, bypass the bar and you’ll find an inviting space to rest those legs, warm up by the fire and sink into a sumptuous sofa while you sip on pre-dinner tipples.
The estate owners are very much on-hand when it comes to the interiors – picking up inspiration from their travels far and wide. Spaces are inspired by luxurious farmhouses, chic chateaus and beautiful manor houses, and it’s safe to say they’ve hit it out of the park once again. The Forge is contemporary, comfortable and screams country charm. Warm decor combines the old with the new, with upholstered furnishings, exposed brickwork and raw finishes.
This place mirrors the cosy, charming spaces found elsewhere on the estate, and boasts two, beautifully designed rooms – with a buzzy bar area sitting between them. On arrival, we are greeted with a Hepple Gin and tonic as we’re seated in the lounge with pre-dinner nibbles. Think sink-in sofas, rustic chess sets and dreamy coffee table books.
With fire pits crackling outside and a stove burning in the centre of the room, it’s incredibly cosy – and the perfect spot to kickstart our culinary journey.
The restaurant itself is stripped back and simple. Out with the formal, white tablecloth-approach and in with the rustic woodwork. Wall-mounted lanterns and flickering candles light up the space, while the fire roars in the background. Big, arched windows open up the space and the exposed beams and brickwork creates a barn-like vibe.
Top class crockery and glassware reminds us we’re in good hands as we’re seated in the restaurant and greeted by our hosts for the evening.
After a refreshing fireside G&T, it’s time to delve deep into the restaurant’s 10-course tasting menu – where our wine flight awaits. The restaurant’s sommelier explains each pairing – taking us from French vineyards and wineries ‘Down Under’, to local producers and vintage valley favourites.
Each glass is perfectly paired – bringing out new flavours with each sip.
Forge is a stylish new restaurant, celebrating everything we know and love about local, seasonal produce – with the magic touch of head chef, Gareth Rayner.
The menu is built around modern British dishes, taking inspiration from the gardens, veg patches and glorious grounds that flank Middleton Lodge Estate.
Mixing local ingredients with innovative ideas from all four corners of the globe, guests are taken on a seasonal tasting journey sure to work the senses.
The estate’s Coach House restaurant – sitting at the other end of the woodland footpath – is more about hearty, Yorkshire produce. Forge takes those flavours and fuses them into a fine dining menu – with Gareth’s main inspiration being the on-site Walled Garden. On a fine day, inquisitive foodies can head over to the Fig House gardens, where they can explore the very plants picked daily by the kitchen crew.
What we ate
Our 10-course tasting menu takes us on a tour of the estate grounds, the North Yorkshire countryside and beyond. Gareth Rayner is an expert when it comes to foraging for the best produce on our doorstep – and it’s his kitchen ethos that inspired the unique dining experience at Forge.
Simple, seasonal dishes work together to create a fusion of flavours – paired with some of the finest world wines.
After drinks and nibbles in the lounge, we’re seated in the rustic restaurant, where our tasting journey begins with the smoked cod roe tart, shortly followed by the chicken skin with flowers. An ever-so-simple, bright and colourful plate of deliciously crisp chicken skin, topped with petals from the garden.
The mackerel beetroot dish is the colourful showstopper in our opinion, brought out to the table by the chef himself. The beetroot is as fresh as can be, with the distinct taste of mackerel zipping through it. A combo we may not think to put together… but it works.
Next up, a worthy winner for us… charred tenderstem broccoli served with artichoke and a coating of 36-mouth parmesan. The mains come in the form of monkfish and red deer. The monkfish is soft, creamy and smoky; while the red deer offers up a rich and juicy dish – washed down with a robust red wine.
Blackcurrant leaf brings a sweet touch to the menu – a wonderful palate cleanser, followed closely by chocolate with cherry and marigold, brioche apple and petit fours to finish.
Our fine foodie journey comes to a close with tea, coffee and treats.
Foodies can enjoy the Forge 10-course tasting menu experience for £75, with wine pairing for an additional £45 – or signature wine pairing for £90.