The beautiful North Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate is famous for Betty’s Tea Rooms, which although divine, often overshadows the other fabulous cafes and restaurants Harrogate has to offer. Dare to stray away from the tourist trail with our pick of the Harrogate’s top 10 independent eats; you’ll wish you had time to try them all!
Located in a prime position, less than a minute’s walk from the Valley Gardens and Royal Pump Rooms, the restaurant and wine bar William and Victoria has been established in Harrogate for over 40 years. Dipped below the pavement, customers step into an intimate bar that boasts over 100 varieties of wine; diners can choose to feast here, or alternatively they can move upstairs into an airy and elegant dining space. Peruse their treasure trove of luxurious dishes, like the slow-roasted belly pork with crackling, apple and red wine sauce, and choose yourself a meal fit for Queen Vic herself. Such a repast couldn’t be complete without a side dish of vintage vino, the choice of which the staff will obligingly advise on.
Cardamom Black Interior | Courtesy of Cardamom Black
Jakes is a cafe of superlatives, found in the oldest building in Harrogate, it hosts the wackiest armchairs and serves the biggest meringues you’ll ever see, which you will spot in their tantalising window display from a mile off! The upstairs cafe area is a delightful space flooded with natural light from the huge glass window that makes up one of the walls; try to bag yourself one of the sofas looking out over the street below for the perfect spot in which to chill. The rest of the room is spacious, with room enough for both coffee drinkers and diners, decorated with a beautiful muted grey colour scheme, where framed pictures of celebrity mug shots adorn the walls. It’s the perfect place for a quick coffee and catch up or a stylish boozy lunch.
To call the interior of Cardamom Black theatrical would be an understatement. Crossing the threshold of this Pan South Asian restaurant is like entering a lavish palace; some dining tables sit atop the stage of what was, up until 1930, Harrogate’s Empire Theatre, an ornate ironwork proscenium arch rising above them. Others dine high above on the balcony, surrounded by rhinestone-adorned walls, eye to eye with glittering chandeliers. The restaurant houses an extensive menu, including a fresh fish bar where diners can select their fish of choice and have it cooked to order in one of the regional styles offered on the menu. In tune with the razzmatazz setting, enjoy one of their tangy cocktails, or simply ask their experienced mixologists to concoct your favourite.
Exterior Major Tom's Social | Courtesy of Major Tom's Social
For those people who fancy an English Cream Tea but aren’t a fan of the prices at Betty’s, the Catwalk Cafe is just the spot. A short stroll down the hill in the sophisticated Montpellier Quarter, this well-established family business offers a selection of home-baked cakes and wholesome lunches. Try to bag a seat out on the front terrace, a renowned suntrap, where you can bask with your tea whilst looking out over the Stray and the flourishing flowerbeds along the street. Alternatively, on a winter’s day, the café’s interior is a warm and welcoming setting, dotted with quaint long-necked cat ornaments to keep you company as you settle down with a cup of whatever you fancy.
For anyone who’s ever been out to dinner and thought ‘You know what this meal is missing? A game of Jenga,’ your prayers have been answered. At retro bar and restaurant Major Tom’s Social, you can do just that and so much more. Furnished with retro curios, record-festooned walls, old board games and an eclectic but excellent soundtrack, this nostalgic wonderland is the sort of place where you’ll be tempted to spend the whole day. Work your way through their selection of craft beers, and settle in for a long game of Scrabble or perhaps a tournament on their very own Pac-Man machine. You could order yourself a delicious sourdough pizza or one of their hilariously named stews like ‘The Blathered Beast,’ a sumptuous steak and ale. It’s the perfect hangout if you’re a sucker for vintage; you can even pick yourself up a space-age television set from the mini vintage shop in the corner!
Cute and quirky café Crepes and Creams is a novel haven where the crêpe has been released from the confines of Shrove Tuesday and the odd food festival and given the chance to shine as the staple of every dish. A ‘secret recipe’ batter is used to create both sweet and savoury crêpes; you can even order a breakfast crêpe, with a delicious filling such as smoked salmon and scrambled egg with hollandaise sauce. Alternatively, if you’re not quite peckish enough to take on a titanic pancake, just order yourself a healthy smoothie or a delicious milkshake made with sumptuous ice cream. At this friendly establishment, you will always be greeted with a smile, which you’re bound to be reciprocating once you’ve sampled such delights as the mars bar, strawberries and cream crêpe, which is truly to die for.
Fed up of Italian? Bored with Chinese? Then you might like to give Turkish cuisine a go at Istanbul. This restaurant is situated in a stylish venue, full of attentive staff, and boasts a catalogue of authentic Turkish delicacies that are bound to leave you spoilt for choice. Go wild and choose an exciting dish that you’ve never heard of before, or persuade a friend to split a bountiful Mixed Grill, complete with lamb chops, Adana lamb meat, grilled chicken and lamb skewers, and served with rice, salad and a tzatziki dip. Go ahead and indulge yourself, but be sure to leave room for dessert, the Pekmez Yoghurt, which is an absolute must-try, makes for a triumphant marriage of the subtle sourness of strained fresh yoghurt and the dark sweetness of homemade grape molasses.
At Deano’s Graze and Grill, you’ll certainly be in for a unusual dining experience that proves just how fun dinner can be. Each diner chooses two to three ‘grazing’ dishes each, and then waits to be surprised with each dish as they are delivered in a random order over the duration of the meal. Each grazing plate is exquisite, with delights like the Thai-style salmon and crab ‘burger’ with sweet chilli sauce and the grilled Balti lamb rump with sag aloo potatoes and mint yoghurt on offer and the best part is that you get to sample them all! And even if you’re not the sharing type, you can opt for one of their haughty burgers or a cow-tastic steak, not forgetting to order some of their sweet potato fries on the side, which are arguably the best in town!
A little way out of town, close to the famous Yorkshire Showground, the farm shop and cafe Fodder is the ideal place to stop off for brunch during a walk around the idyllic Crimple Valley. The high-ceilinged, spacious cafe is full of streaming sunlight and situated in one of Yorkshire’s greenest buildings, complete with a sedum roof and solar panels, and is insulated with sheep’s wool. Serving up local produce sourced from hundreds of farmers and small producers, Fodder offers all the country cafe favourites, including the splendid ‘Great Yorkshire Breakfast’ (dry-cured bacon, pork sausage, black pudding, fried egg, flat mushroom, grilled tomato, baked beans and a slice of granary or white toast). Plus, if you’re on the move, you can stop off at Fodder on the Hoof, their fabulous converted Airstream trailer, serving fresh fast food, as it ought to be.
Taking in your surroundings at Oliver’s Fish and Chips, you might trick yourself into believing you were sitting in a traditional seaside chip shop. Stepping into the simple interior, which some might call dated but we prefer to call charming, is like stepping back in time into a good, old-fashioned wholesome haunt. Order yourself a proper cod and chips, which is sumptuous every time, or choose from the range of other fish on the menu. Finish off with a traditional pudding just like mother used to make, such as a sticky jam roly-poly or treacle sponge, doused with custard of course.