The Wild Plum café/restaurant in Harrogate is an unexpected find in many respects. The first is its location. It’s on the outskirts of the town, a mile or so out, on Hookstone Road (which is just before the Marks & Spencer Food Hall on Leeds Road). Once there, you have to look out for a special occasion fashion shop called Snooty Frox.
Then, to find Wild Plum, you must go through this large boutique with its arrays of opulent dresses and hats and mothers of the bride trying to decide in mirrors, until you reach a narrow staircase, made even narrower by a stair lift thoughtfully installed up its left flank. And then, when you get to the top, there will probably be a queue, because Wild Plum is wildly popular and the dining area is small – about 35 covers, apparently. However, those who know about this café (or is it a restaurant, or both?) love it, and it soon becomes clear why.
The food is fantastic, the presentation sensational and the staff are lovely. Word is spreading far and wide, not least because each and every dish is beautifully, instantly Instagram-ready, strewn with wild flowers and like little works of art.
I met my friend Sheena there for an early lunch recently. I had the Wild Plum Buddha Bowl, a dish of heavenliness including green beans, avocado, grains and more, which you can have with chicken, cauliflower steak or black salmon. The menu changes every week to reflect seasonality, so it’s hard to be exact about what a particular dish might have.
The chef is Bethany Haresign, daughter of Hilary Haresign who owns Snooty Frox. Bethany studied at Thomas Danby College in Leeds, has trained with Michel Roux and has worked with Andrew Pern at the Star Inn, Harome. I think she is astonishingly talented and has brought to Harrogate an entirely new league of dining, something with real flair and class and thought.
In many ways, the menu is simple. There’s a weekend brunch menu that includes Ham Hock Hash £13) with sweet potato, spinach, crispy fried hen’s egg and crispy onion; and Corn Fritter (£13.50) served with Lishman’s Streaky Smoked Bacon, Hen’s Egg, Fresh Spinach, Roasted Tomato, Smashed Avocado and Spice Yoghurt.
The pancakes and waffles are legendary. Go on Instagram and you will be sure to see some snapped by charmed customers. The Classic Waffle is served with seasonal fruit, whipped cream, Nutella, roasted pecans and maple syrup. At £12.50 it’s not cheap but, judging by the number I saw on my last visit, it’s a hugely popular dish. Again strewn with edible wild flowers, it looks incredible.
As well as our salads, we had cake, obviously, including this gorgeous one pictured here. It was vegan, as I remember. (Schoolgirl error – make notes while you are actually there. Trouble is, it’s all far too delicious to think sensibly.)
There’s afternoon tea served Tuesday to Thursday at 2.30pm and you have to book and pay a deposit of £10 a person.
Wild Plum is open Jan-April – Tues-Sat: 9.30-4pm; Sun: 10-2pm (it’s going to be closed Easter Sunday). May to December, it’s open Tues-Sat: 9.30-4pm.
And therein lies my only complaint about Wild Plum – it should be open for longer. It should be open in the evenings. It should open in town where it would surely become the best little restaurant in Harrogate, in Yorkshire, in the world. And I bet I’m not the only one who says that. You can see I’m taken. Just writing about it makes me yearn.
The Wild Plum is above Snooty Frox at 34-36 Hookstone Road, Harrogate HG2 8BW. Call 01423 815329 and visit: https://www.snootyfrox.co.uk/the-wild-plum/