A new bistro featuring glass walls and glass floor panels over an 80-foot-deep gorge offers a dining experience with a wow factor.
The Vista Bistro at How Stean Gorge is being piloted during the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme until 31 August, with ambitions to then re-open in winter with a permanent dining offer with options for private event hire.
Set in a cantilevered extension that sits over the steep chasm, over half a mile in length and up to two metres deep, it boasts a new chef, Jowyane Marshall, joining the Vista Bistro from the neighbouring Yorke Arms at Ramsgill.
How Stean Gorge, one of Yorkshire’s most awe-inspiring natural sights, has been attracting visitors for over 100 years. The hidden gem has existed for ten thousand years, since the last Ice Age and is so special its graded as a triple Site of Special Scientific Interest. The gorge features trout, bats hanging from its caves, otters, and fossils frozen in its limestone.
The adventure facility offers abseiling, gorge scrambling, caving, canoeing and a high wire via ferrata course – one of only three in the UK – as well as an upper pathway suitable for the timid adventurer. The unique geography allows for rock sports and paddle sports, including the unique chance to canyon down the highest waterfall in England.
Stan Beer, owner of How Stean Gorge, said: “Now diners can experience the majestic views without a hard hat or wet suit! It’s a boutique bistro with a remarkable difference. We wanted the food to be as special as the view.”
Since moving to Pateley Bridge in 1976, Stan spent his days off volunteering at the Gorge and fell in love with the attraction. Stan and his wife Anne, a retired paramedic and nurse, swapped the NHS for the ‘National Health Service’ when they bought one of nature’s most spectacular sights in 2007.
Over the years, the family has added the bistro, café, camp site, high wire, and now employ specialist adventure guides to run their outdoor activity centre which is very popular with families, corporate team building, educational visits and the stag/hen market.
Stan said: “COVID-19 hit us hard as bread and butter clients such as hen and stag do’s, corporate training events and school trips closed, so we decided to think outside the box and do something differently to survive this. When the Yorke Arms changed direction, there was an opportunity to hire one of its very talented chefs Jowyane. It’s a chance to continue the hard-won culinary reputation of the area.”
A chef de partie and then sous chef at the Yorke Arms for over three years, the Jamaican-born chef previously worked at Harrogate’s Drum and Monkey and The Sportsmans Arms, Wath.
Jowyane, 29, said: “It was a phenomenal experience working at the Michelin starred Yorke Arms under Frances Atkins. I cooked for celebrities like Mary Berry and appeared on Saturday Kitchen. I’m always ambitious. Unlike London that’s saturated with chefs, there’s real opportunity here to carve a reputation and dining experience, meet customers and hear their feedback. The menu is small and simple, more gastro-pub – we’re keeping it simple with locally-sourced produce. Going forward, I’d love to achieve a rosette for the new bistro.”
Moving to Yorkshire from Jamaica when he married his Yorkshire wife over four years ago, Jowyane said he hopes to bring some Jamaican influence to the bistro, potentially introducing a theme night at the restaurant.
With just one sitting, the socially-distanced tables seat around 20 people per night. The team have track and trace in place and use fog-in disinfectant.
Pre-COVID-19, 10,000 people booked its outdoor activities each year, with 20,000 visitors attending the café and venue. With seven full-time staff and many more part-time and casual staff, How Stean Gorge is a vital tourism attraction for Nidderdale’s fragile rural economy.
Stan said: “Livelihoods depend on us. We’ve paid £2 million in staff wages since we opened. The virus has messed everything up, and we can’t afford the venue to be empty over the winter. This is an exciting and magical way to support rural business. The whole place is lit up at night, it’s really special. Even after all these years here, there’s a spot further up the gorge that still blows my mind away, where its literally vertical on both sides. When you’re there you’re not in Britain. The Victorians used to call it ‘Little Switzerland’.”
Diners can make the most of the last week of the government scheme, Eat Out to Help Out, with a 50% discount available Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday until 31 August with the Vista Bistro open from 4pm-7.30pm.
The space operates as a café during the day, and on Fridays offers a popular Fish and Chip night and Saturday, Pizza night. Winter opening times and menus for the new Vista Bistro are to be announced.
To view the menu and more detail visit: https://www.howstean.co.uk/eating/vista-view-restaurant/
Photo credit:Gerard Binks
Photo shows Stan and Anne Beer