Eddie Dickens’ gives his gastronomic review of The Trip’s locations, while passing on some sage advice to his son, ShortList’s Andrew
Four days alone in the wilds of the North (admittedly eating Michelin-starred food and driving a Jag), as they recreated Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan’s The Trip, brought ShortList’s film editor, Andrew Dickens, and his father, Eddie, closer together. Here, alongside his honest appraisals of where they ate, Dickens Sr passes on some much-needed life advice to his son.
The Yorke Arms: Having enjoyed driving one of the UK’s most recognisable cars, the Jaguar XK coupe, we stopped at the Yorke Arms for lunch; not that it would have bothered me if we stopped at a roadside burger van for an egg sandwich and carried on driving. However, revisiting is the name of the game and for a first stop the Yorke Arms was welcoming, even if a little bit stuffy. The food was, as expected, very good but the highlight was watching a couple sharing and devouring the chocolate platter. Just like the ‘Harry met Sally’ moment, I ordered the same for my desert. It was fantastic, but alas I did not have Sally to share it with.
Lesson my son needs to learn #1: You need to come out and admit you’re a Daily Mail reader! Forget the Guardian; their readers are responsible for more methane release than Aberdeen Angus.
Armathwaite Hall: It was a long drive to the North Lakes in Cumbria so arriving was welcome. A grand building that once was the private home of a one-time magnate from the Industrial Revolution who had unlimited funds on which he could draw to ensure reflected status. I was looking forward to our meal and I must say it didn’t disappoint. Although I’m not a great lover of rich French style sauces and it did cross my mind to complain, just to see if I could have been locked in the tower room – a must room (suite) to stay in if you can afford it.
Lesson my son needs to learn #2: Don’t stare anxiously at my thinning hair, you have your mother’s genes, and your Barnet could thatch a cottage.
A great drive alongside the lakes to L’Enclume and it’s not difficult to see why the area’s so popular. Not quite ‘Pick & Mix’ but a unique eating experience with a menu of ‘taster’ dishes using only ingredients available on the day. The surprise is that even with each dish being a taster, by the time you finish even the 7 course sampler lunch menu, you feel the whole experience is something to be savoured and thoroughly enjoyed. Just love the way the staff tell all about each dish.
Lesson my son needs to learn #3: You should carry on keeping fit, it can be uplifting and may, years later, see you receiving a ‘You are officially the Oldest Person we know’ birthday car. Though not from me, obviously.
The Inn at Whitewell:
Rustic, rural, rugged, relaxing and a retail outlet - almost everything in the hotel had a sale price attached to it. This was the first time we had to enjoy and savour some of the ales on offer, with the specific objective of sampling every single one. Did I manage it? I’ll leave that for you to decide.
The shop (off- license to my generation) is a great place to peruse, with a full range of wines and local produce for sale. As for the furniture being for sale, I did wonder if I would wake up in the morning to find myself on the floor with my bed having been sold from under me. But the whole experience was well worth the trip, and anyone who stays there will not be disappointed.
Lesson my son needs to learn #4: If you want to be happy don’t expect everything to be perfect, look beyond the imperfections
The Angel at Hetton:
The Angel is a gem and should be renamed Ambrosia Inn. The food was both traditional and adventurous and the accommodation excellent. I can only wonder at the brass neck cheek of the present owners’ father starting the annual ‘Fish Festival’ in the middle of the meat-rearing region of the UK; and imagine the horror of the local inhabitants at the time being asked to feast on fish when meat stew, steaks, joints, ribs and sausages are the local ‘delicacy’. With its own ale, the inn has everything you could want plus a reputation for the best breakfast for miles.
Lesson my son needs to learn #5: Fish may not be your thing, but it’s good for you and you’re missing out, so look that mackerel straight in the eye and convince yourself how nice it will taste.
Another former family home, and it shows. The quality of the build and décor in the main building reflected the original owner’s attention to detail – an attention reflected in the food that nothing left to chance. However, as a cheese lover, I was left wanting by the portions on the board and almost resorted to raiding the kitchen for a lump of Cheddar big enough to bite.
Lesson my son needs to learn #6: Don’t annoy old people; we don’t like getting old as it is and it doesn’t take much to piss us off.