Unbelievably, it is 10 years since I last reviewed the Angel Inn at Hetton. I have eaten there with friends, attended numerous functions, was even part of a TV documentary filmed in the kitchens and indisputably, I still love the place. But there’s trouble afoot; apparently, the Angel has tarnished its golden wings if we are to believe all we read on social media sites where everyone and their brother has turned critic.
The upset? The Angel has changed direction.
The Angel is as traditional a Dales inn as they come. The current building dates back to the early 18th century and rose to national acclaim in the 1980s when the late Dennis Watkins and his wife Juliet took over and created what to this day is still considered the first ever gastro pub. Banished to history was the chicken in a basket and chips disappeared altogether. In their place came exciting, vibrant cooking using fresh and often, local foods, with excellent wines and an extensive list by the glass.
These are things we are so used to now, but back then this was revolutionary. The Angel became a benchmark for top quality food in pub-restaurants and inspired so many chefs to do likewise. But this is 2017 and times have changed and to survive, they too feel the need to move with them.
First up, chips are back, which is causing something of a stir with some regulars citing a betrayal of the pub’s principles. Seriously? The poor offending fried potato appears only once on the new menu and alongside a rather handsome, locally sourced chargrilled rib-eye steak and classic Caesar salad; this is where chips belong. The renowned Angel moneybags, which have featured on the menu since day one, remain, as does the Provencal soup. Elsewhere the menu has been pared back of little fancy twizzles and drizzles to more solid, bistro-style food, which ironically is the style Dennis first brought here but now comes with a diversity expected in contemporary styles of cooking. There are classic devilled kidneys, mustard and herb crusted lamb and salmon en croute sitting alongside Tuscan chargrilled insalata.
The Angel Inn, Back Lane, Hetton, Skipton BD23 6LT, 01756 730263; open: lunch, 12-2.15pm (12-2.30pm Sundays); dinner, 6-8.30pm (6-9.30pm Fridays and Saturdays); three-course dinner with wine for two costs £110. There is a sandwich and salad menu in the bar at lunch and a Sunday roast.