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Food Hotel: Feversham Arms, North Yorkshire

The Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa
Helmsley, North Yorkshire, YO62 5AG
01439 770766
Cuisine: British
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Until a few years ago, The Feversham Arms in the quaint North Yorkshire market town of Helmsley was little more than an old pub with rooms.
But then along came hotelier Simon Rhatigan, who previously held senior management roles at such illustrious establishments as Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire, Seaham Hall in County Durham and The Samling in Cumbria.
Rhatigan saw the potential to transform the 19th century inn into a luxurious hideaway on the edge of the wild and remote North Yorkshire Moors.
It was an ambitious plan which took a good five years and a very sizeable investment (plus the recruitment of a chef with an impressive CV – more of that later) to achieve, but these days The Feversham Arms is a truly beautiful small hotel. It’s no wonder the AA named it ‘Hotel of the Year for England 2009-2010’.
Today there are 33 rooms (up from an original 17), of which 22 are suites. Some are within the original pub, others are in an extension which also houses a stylish new reception area, and more are to be found in some converted outbuildings facing the central courtyard and outdoor pool.
The newest suites – and arguably the most stunning – are above the Verbena Spa, which opened in the autumn of 2008. These have balconies overlooking the courtyard and are decorated in calming, neutral shades with a modern country-house feel.
Every room has its own individual style and comes with Egyptian cotton bedding and luxurious bathrooms with feature baths and walk-in showers.
Each morning we had complimentary tea and coffee brought to our comfortable, cosy suite (just across the courtyard from the main building) at a prearranged time, and we had the option to have breakfast in our room – or outside on our private patio – instead of in the restaurant at no extra charge.
Sadly, it wasn’t quite the weather for eating outside, but that didn’t stop us swimming outside. The pool is heated all year and there’s certainly a novelty factor to swimming outdoors in the dark in winter – especially in North Yorkshire.
That swim – followed by a relaxing soak in the outdoor hot tub – set us up rather nicely for dinner in the elegant conservatory-style restaurant overlooking the courtyard.
Like the other Simon at The Feversham, head chef Simon Kelly has worked in some top places, alongside some world-class chefs including Michel Roux, Nigel Haworth, Nico Ladenis and Georgio Locatelli – and it shows.
His cooking is classically based but innovative, making the best of seasonal ingredients which are largely local but always of the highest quality. “We’re quite lucky because we’re near the coast so we get great fish from Whitby, Scarborough, and Hartlepool, and there’s some really good quality meat in Yorkshire. If it’s good quality and it’s available locally we’ll use it. If it’s better quality further afield then we’ll go a bit further,” says Kelly.
Every night there are three menus to choose from – the table d’hote (£33 a head for three courses), the tasting menu (£45 a head for six courses), and the a la carte. All three menus are constantly evolving, and you can mix and match between the set menu and the a la carte.
Drinks and canapés (including some of the largest, plumpest, juiciest olives I’ve ever seen) in the warm and cosy lounge is the best way to begin an evening here before moving through into the intimate candlelit dining room. English lobster – as fresh as can be and with the tenderest flesh – with wild mushrooms and roast garlic mayonnaise makes a fine opener, as does a beautifully made, warming Jersusalem artichoke soup.
The three different types of homemade bread (cheese, polenta and granary) are hard to resist, but there’s so much more good eating to come.
My main course of organic salmon with crayfish and lobster linguini with pea shoots was simply faultless – the fish and the pasta (which was clearly homemade) were cooked to perfection and the dish was full of fresh, vibrant flavours.
Equally superb was the loin of Scottish venison with potato boulangere and Savoy cabbage. The meat was accurately timed and so tender it just melted in the mouth.
An exemplary pear tarte tatin with homemade gingerbread ice cream couldn’t have been a better, more memorable way to finish.
The Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa, Helmsley, North Yorkshire, YO62 5AG 01439 770766
Cuisine: Modern British













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7 March 2010
By: Fiona Griffiths
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