One of the nicest Thursday mornings I have spent for ages was at Dutch House, and not least because it involved pancakes. A friend told me about the place so we piled her brood and my brood into our recently-acquired Family Motor and drove the 15 or so miles North to the picturesque village of Crayke, and it was completely worth it.
On arriving we herded the Under-Threes through the paved courtyard and straight into the Eco Garden where we found a beautiful space full of wild flowers, herb borders and rustic sculptures. It is designed to illustrate sustainable gardening and to attract wildlife, and also incorporates a nature zone created especially for children. It is arranged over an acre-and-a-half but there was so much to look at and explore we spent ages discovering curiosities in every corner, including a gorgeous living willow ‘roundhouse’, a herd of painted pigs and even managed to squeeze in a little game of Pooh Sticks (though some members of the party rather failed to grasp the rules) before moving inside for lunch.
The café is housed in a light and airy barn-conversion style space, with stone-flagged floor and nice, retro chairs and tables with bright fabric-upholstered seats. One wall is painted with blackboard paint, with a large box of chalks nearby, so some of the group set about drawing, whilst others set about eating as many chalks as possible before being apprehended. The other walls were covered with an exhibition of striking oil-paint landscapes by a local artist, Richard Gray; there was also a display cabinet of ceramics, glass and jewellery by local artists. All this goes towards creating a really attractive and inviting space in which to enjoy a delicious lunch, which is just what we did next.
Both my friend and I had pancakes (hers with Mediterranean vegetables and mine with tomato and Dutch cheese) and they were excellent and exactly my idea of an uncomplicated light lunch, but nonetheless well cooked and presented. For the children we ordered plates of poffertjes, which are like fat little balls of pancake, sprinkled with icing sugar. Everyone seemed very pleased with their dishes and afterwards we pushed the boat out with traditional Dutch cakes.
This place is not only geared towards families but it is certainly somewhere you can bring the family in the happy knowledge that it can be enjoyed on many levels and has good access, too. Even the journey (via the scenic route for those who have extra time to spare) was a real treat of a tour through the winding summer lanes of North Yorkshire. I will definitely be returning to the Dutch House and am busy recommending it to everyone I know, and even some of those I don’t.