A look inside Michelin-starred Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall in Ripon

16 March 2022 by
A look inside Michelin-starred Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall in Ripon

Shaun Rankin's Michelin-starred restaurant at Grantley Hall in Ripon, North Yorkshire, sees the chef take rose-tinted memories of childhood flavours and elevate them to a luxurious level for his Taste of Home menu

Grantley Hall is the epitome of traditional fine dining – how do you deliver this experience to guests?

Fine dining is a treat. To me, it's all-encompassing luxury – from the tablecloths and settings to the service. It's about looking after the guest. If you are cold, we get you a pashmina; there's a cushion if you need it. The staff are attentive and trained to notice the smallest thing, even down to whether you are right- or left-handed so they can put the cutlery down correctly and you don't have to swap it around yourself.

There are great Michelin-starred restaurants out there with no tablecloths and a limited service, and that's great for those restaurants, but for me, it's about the finer things in life: the best cutlery, crockery and lamps combined with a food philosophy that is all about that second flavour hit – the underlying flavour of the sauce – and trying to enhance the best out of that product.

How do you keep up with fine dining trends?

It's all about the experience. Guests start with home-cured charcuterie, which takes months to produce, and this is served while you take in the fabulous Champagne trolley before you are bought into the main restaurant. I wanted to bring in these steps to create a journey.

The menu is based around nostalgic flavours you were brought up on. It was rhubarb season in Yorkshire last month, so we had rhubarb served with rice cream, which makes you think of rice pudding from your childhood. And take our Summer Garden (see panel) on the tasting menu. If you think of crudités, you might think of little carrots with a Thousand Island dressing, eaten while sat at the bar, but this dish is something to talk about. It's quite playful and jolly; you share it with your partner at the beginning of the meal and it relaxes the whole moment.

The word ‘local' is seen a lot on menus at the moment. What does local mean to you?

I believe you have to celebrate what you have around you. For instance, at the moment, we have a venison main course served with blackcurrant and celeriac, but we also have those same ingredients served at the beginning of the menu as a blackcurrant tart with venison tartare. Some might wonder why we have venison on twice, but our point is it's about celebrating what we have around us.

That's why we only source ingredients from a 30-mile footprint. Apart from a little bit of chocolate in our petits fours, we don't use anything from outside of the UK. Our oil is rapeseed and we make the vinegars ourselves, so we don't need lemon or lime for acid. We don't have passion fruit, coconut, tuna or foie gras.

Our larder is so important. We start with our kitchen garden and then we forage and preserve for the winter months from what is around us and we also work with local growers. We dip into Scotland sometimes for scallops or langoustines, but the rest of our fish is from day boats from east coast Yorkshire towns such as Whitby.

Tell us more about your kitchen garden at Grantley Hall

I was part of the Grantley Hall project two years before we opened the doors, so I was involved in designing all the kitchens and finding a spot for the kitchen garden, which is really important for the longevity of what we do and how we visualise the menu changing through the seasons.

We work hard at growing the fruit and vegetables in the garden and capture as much as we can in the spring and summer to pickle, ferment and preserve for the winter months. We have 32 covers a night, so we plan with the gardeners what we need and they sow the rows week to week, so we know how much is coming out of the ground and when.

Rankin's superstar dishes

Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall was two years in the planning and opened at the same time as the hotel itself in 2019, shortly before Covid hit. His 10-course tasting menu, Taste of Home, changes seasonally and is meant to evoke feelings of nostalgia and childhood memories.

Taste of Home menu

  • Bread, butter, dripping, beef tea
  • Truffle, artichoke, Hebden Bridge cheese
  • Langoustine, elderflower, smoked cream
  • Turbot, caviar, cabbage, dill, lemon verbena
  • Venison loin, blackcurrent, celeriac
  • Parsnip, pear, pineapple weed
  • Rhubarb, rice pudding cream
  • Lanark Blue, Harrogate bun
  • Sweets

£130 per person. Signature wine pairing, £90; prestige wine pairing, £160

Bread, butter, dripping, beef tea

"In Yorkshire, you have bread with every meal. My mum would make Yorkshire puddings with a beef roast on Sundays, and I'd be given a bit of white bread to dip into the roasting tray to soak up the beef juices – you add salt and it's the best thing ever."

Rankin roasts bone marrow and spreads it onto sourdough, the starter of which was created two years before Grantley Hall opened its doors. The dish is accompanied by a herb butter and a plain butter, churned on-site using cream from a dairy down the road from the hotel.

"We serve it with a beef tea, which is a really concentrated beef consommé to help with the digestion of the dripping, but also because it reminds me of being given a cup of hot Bovril as a child," he adds.

Summer Garden

This crudité dish remained on the menu for the first two years, but has currently made way for the short-lived English truffle season, where Rankin has created a snack from truffles, brioche and artichoke.

His shared dish, Summer Garden, is a playful start to the meal. A plant pot is filled with a variety of vegetables from the kitchen garden, including carrots, baby beetroot, radishes, baby leeks, pea pods and broad beans, poking out of ‘soil' made from broccoli and mushrooms, which are roasted and then dehydrated. Guests are presented with chef tweezers and a spoon and encouraged to get "stuck in" down to the base of the plant pot to find a sorrel hollandaise made from sorrel leaves blended with clarified butter.

Rankin's champagne

In June, Rankin will launch a house Champagne that has been blended exclusively for Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall.

Rankin worked closely with producer Champagne Météyer to create Nuits Blanches: a Blanc de Chardonnay made from made hand-picked grapes from 35-year-old Chardonnay vines grown in clay and limestone soils on the south-facing slopes of the Marne Valley in France.

The Nuits Blanches blend is aged for three years, The result is a lively and expressive Chardonnay with a delicate bubble, a gentle floral aroma with elements of buttery brioche and a citrus fruit finish.

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