Don’t be fooled by the words ‘retirement’ and ‘home’.
If Four Seasons did retirement homes this would be it. It’s every bit 5 star hotel complete with swimming pool, gym, library, acres of beautifully manicured gardens overlooking the breath-taking Yorkshire countryside and a packed roster of resident entertainment and activities.
But the icing on the retirement cake is a fine-dining restaurant and bistro called The Clevedon, which is open to the public.
The Audley Clevedon Retirement Village in Ben Rhydding is just five minutes outside of the salubrious and rather buzzing West Yorkshire town of Ilkley, yet I expect quite a lot of the town’s residents have absolutely no idea that the The Audley Clevedon even exists.
Why would they? Why would anyone under the age of, well, retirement need to know. Unless they have some rolling-in-it great aunt who is living the life of riley at the top of that hill. And rolling in it you need to be to be able to afford to retire here.
I took the mother-in-law and my aunty Mandy to The Clevedon one Friday eve in late May. The mother-in-law grimaced when I informed her I was taking her out for her birthday dinner to a retirement home – as mother-in-law birthday treats go, it probably wasn’t at the top of her wish list.
Visions of plastic sippy cups and bibs and a large dollop of carrot mash quickly faded though as we drove up Ben Rhydding Drive – a sweeping private road lined with rather sizeable houses – and through the entrance gates of The Audley Clevedon Retirement Village.
If this is God’s Waiting Room then I want to be in the queue for as long as possible.
We made our way up to the restaurant and bistro which is housed in a palatial stone-built Victorian building that was once a private school – now exquisitely decorated with the help of interior designers. Not a bad pan or commode in sight.
We were escorted over to the best table in the restaurant – perfectly positioned by a set of French doors that lead out onto a huge veranda – had the weather of been on our side, it would have been the most delightful setting for an early dinner, looking out over the rolling hills of Yorkshire.
I told the mother-in-law not to get any ideas as she settled into her high back velvet chair and browsed the menu with a (rather rare) approving look. I told her not to get any ideas. She lives in France, and the Audley Clevedon Retirement Village is FAR too close to home.
Decorated sophisticatedly with a contemporary twist, there is a real feeling of someone’s rather posh dining room about the restaurant. It’s all so incredibly well kept, and modern sideboards, lamps and a fireplace add to the elegance of it all.
We were handed a menu by the Angela, the delightful waitress, who we fired with questions throughout the evening on the ‘who’s’, the ‘what’s’, the ‘where’s’ and… the ‘how much to live here?’.
“I absolutely love my job” Angela tells us. ” And my regulars. We just need to get the word out that The Clevedon Restaurant is open to anyone and everyone – it’s Ilkley’s best-kept secret”.
Not for long…
The rather well-to-do and very glamorous ladies sporting perfectly quaffed mauve rinses and smelling of very expensive perfume on the table next to us chirped up with their first-hand experience of retired life at The Audley Retirement Village in Ben Rhydding.
It sounds nothing short of a glorious, never-ending (until the very end), luxury holiday filled with leisurely swims, yoga, personal training sessions, quiz nights, hair appointments, board games, live music, afternoon teas, and of course fine-dining in the Clevedon.
The Menu at The Clevedon Restaurant
Friday night is fish night – alongside the small but perfectly formed regular a la carte menu guests can choose from a four types of fish to include Haddock goujons, grilled Pandora, Seabass & King Prawn and marinated Monkfish and add a sauce and a side to it.
The regular a la carte menu features comfort food favourites and I opted for a starter from this menu, followed by a fish dish from the fish menu.
I ordered the ‘Yellison’ whipped goats cheese, quince terrine, homemade oat cake. The mother-in-law opted for the crab starter and Yorkshire gammon, fried hens egg, roasted tomato, skinny fries from the Classics menu whilst Aunty M went with Pan fried chicken breast, leek & bacon sauce, potato gratin, steamed broccoli from the Mains.
It was a difficult decision for us all with other delicious sounding dishes featured to include Spring Yorkshire lamb, wild garlic croquette, slow cooked shoulder press, redcurrant, ‘Mary Jane’ beer-battered fish, triple cooked chips, mushy/garden peas, tartar sauce and Baked sea trout, curried mussels, pickled cauliflower, crispy calamari, micro coriander.
Style & Substance
Angela delivered our starters and all three received a triumphant reception. Visually they were striking – aesthetically on par with any fine-dining restaurant. Each dish was more than generous is size – extra large portions of nouvelle cuisine will be music to the ears of many of Yorkshireman I’m sure.
My starter delivered on taste too. The deliciously creamy whipped goats cheese slapped on a nutty, crunchy oatcake with the tanginess of the quince was a heavenly combination – my willpower was tested as I tried to stop myself from polishing off the three large helpings of cheese and no less than six oatcakes. Thank goodness I opted for a light main course!
My Seabass was cooked perfectly, topped with ever so slightly overdone prawns in garlic, and served with a generous helping of buttered Jersey Royals, a generous side helping of well-cooked greens and my chosen sauce – salsa Verde.
My plate was perfectly light and fresh after all those oatcakes and cheese.
My waistline was feeling the pinch but I simply had to road test the dessert menu and blimey, am I glad I did.
I ordered the deep filled lemon tart, citrus syrup, rhubarb pastry, vanilla bean ice cream. I took a deep breath as it was placed in front of me – three man-size helpings included a huge slice of lemon tart, a hefty deep-fried samosa and a sizeable dollop of ice-cream.
The lemon tart was busting at the seams with zesty lemon flavour filling and encased in thin, crunchy, buttery pasty. I smashed open the pastry casing of the rhubarb pastry with my folk and went straight for the hot, sweet, stewed rhubarb and smothered each spoonful in the cold, creamy ice-cream.
Every now and then I’d reach over to Aunty M’s generous dish of crunchy-topped, creamy, custardy crème brûlée and scoop a dollop of the stuff into my mouth.
Don’t get me started on the no less than SIX shortbread biscuits that accompanied it.
I was at the point of no return. I’d overdosed on delicious, decadent desserts and I was seriously close to curling up in an armchair in the corner and spending the night there.
We finished up with a chat with head chef Declan Diggin, most recently at Armethwaite Hall in the Lake District. Young enough to be most of the residents’ grandson, he brings an air of cheekiness and bundles of talent to The Clevedon.
When we asked Declan how he ended up at The Clevedon, he told us how we was approached and initially turned the role down when he heard the head chef post was in a retirement village. He then went on to tell us that he thanks his lucky stars every day that he was convinced to pop by for a look. He’s never looked back.
The bill came to just short of £100 for three 3-course meals and 3 medium glasses of decent wine (I had a tonic water).
The Clevedon Restaurant is open to the public on Monday through to Thurday from 10am to 6.30pm, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 8pm, and Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Sunday lunch looks bloody amazing. What a great find for a father’s day meal, or any occasion for that matter.
I’ve already started saving for my retirement pad at The Audley Retirement Village.
A huge thank you to the folks at The Clevedon for inviting me to review their restaurant. For more information and to book your table at The Clevedon CLICK HERE