More Than An Eating Place
Not being the most erudite at times, I had been driving past the 'couldn't have been bigger or clearer' sign for 'The Granary' on the back road from Bramhope to Cookridge for quite some time.
It was only when a friend arranged to meet me for coffee and suggested it would be a convenient half-way house that I hurriedly googled their website and found this idyllic place, practically on my door step.
Turning off Otley Old Rd and tootling up the long drive, I was surrounded by green pastures, home to a small gang of sheep who were staring at me comically.
I parked up with ease and followed the neat path towards ‘The Granary’, a sympathetically restored 17th Century barn. On my left there were spacious greenhouses full of evergreens and flowering orchids. To the right, I spotted a young rider smiling broadly as he was guided down the lane astride a sturdy horse. The barn housing the restaurant lay straight ahead.
THE GRANARY RESTAURANT
This airy open beamed building with a large conservatory to the back giving stunning views of the surrounding countryside was quite a sight.There were quality gifts and a well stocked farm shop at the top end (note to self, ‘visit on way out’ ) selling fresh and ambient produce from meats to preserves, much of it produced at Crag House Farm.
We were greeted warmly and seated in the main part of the restaurant where chefs could be observed in the open plan kitchen, prepping and cooking. ( I always see this as a sign that good practices are being followed, nothing out of sight!) The menu was fresh and made from scratch. Full breakfasts, filled omelettes, toasted teacakes, sandwiches, soups and main meals were on offer. It is worth a visit for the thick cut homemade chips alone. A range of quality teas and coffees were in abundance and if tempted and I was, cake such as lemon drizzle or chocolate.
( The Granary is open 6 days a week and offers special event nights. It can also be hired for special functions. Check out the website below for details)
My first visit of many was memorable, not just for fresh quality food and pleasant surroundings, it had a great vibe, one in which I felt revitalised. There is something very special about this place because it isn’t just about the food but giving something back in generous portions. The Granary Restaurant is part of a project at Crag House Farm, a much bigger project known as Caring For Life or CFL.
I recently had the great pleasure of meeting the Marketing Director of CFL, Buffy Parkinson. She bounced into The Granary all healthy and bubbly. It would be fair to say we talked non-stop in a way in which only women can.
She told me how CFL was founded 26 years ago by Peter Parkinson, a Baptist Minister using fundamental Christian beliefs. Operating as a registered charity it provides some of the most vulnerable in our society with accommodation, love, friendship and the support they need to develop dignity and self worth. A huge amount of nourishment is offered to these individuals who gain so much from their involvement at Crag House Farm.
With great pride, Buffy gave me a glimpse of what goes on beyond the restaurant. There was the sizeable admin team including IT who attend to the everyday needs of the organisation. Then there was the ‘therapeutic daytime activity projects’, an art room where all sorts of creative things were being made. I spoke with a gentleman who was putting the finishing touches to an accomplished painting of a horse for a member who was ill. Music and drama were also on the agenda. There was the huge woodwork shed and fully equipped stables, impeccable greenhouses kept in optimum conditions for growing quality produce and the pretty gardens for visitors to enjoy. We finished ‘le grand tour ‘in the donated scout hut which has been turned into a canteen for all involved who were tucking into fresh healthy lunches with gusto.
Their patron is the Countess of Wessex who I understand makes very low key visits to the Farm and likes to roll her sleeves up and get involved in the day to day running of the project.
I have only touched on the incredible activities which are undertaken here for the good of others.
They have such energy that it leaves you wondering what you have been doing with your life!
I for one am planning a special celebration there in a few months. I can plan the menu, decorate the barn as I wish and they will even supply a jazz band. It is satisfying to know that the proceeds will be re-invested in a project that is about people, in particular, those who need us most.