I was aware, even before setting a foot anywhere near the Angel at Hetton, weeks into its new life under renowned chef Michael Wignall, that whichever way I turned on this one I would be in trouble with somebody. The Angel is a Yorkshire institution, and back in the day was renowned. Latterly, it lost its way. But there’s no need to rake over those old coals; we are where we are.
When the inn changed hands, there was rumour and a decent amount of gossip about what was happening up there in the Dales. What I found was the inn pretty much the same as always, and on a filthy autumn night, it was shining brightly against the black skies. The fire in the bar was roaring and though only 6.45pm the place was buzzing. Staff stood at the ready, neatly aproned and overly eager to please.
It took a glass of a perfectly chilled Chilean Sauvignon, a pint and a spot by the fire for us to take stock of the changes. With just nine days between closing and reopening, a significant sparkling up had taken place with pale grey paint right the way through; a serious declutter and on the walls, plans of The Angel at Hetton, part two, coming next Spring.
So no shock in the decor, but it was to the menu I rushed. I had heard all kinds of tittle-tattle about fancy food, posh plates but not a chip in sight. On this evening I ate what I declare to be my chip of the year – but more of that later. The menu may have been a little here and there over the early weeks but is now settling down well. There are five starters and mains keeping things tight, but with more than enough choices including vegetarian in there.