We stopped by recently one Saturday afternoon for a beer, having spent a day relaxing with friends by the River, swimming and catching crayfish.
The intention was to sit outside and have a cheeky beer in the late sunshine before heading back to our camp in Appletreewick, but after a couple of pints (the Timothy Taylor's Landlord was on great form) we spotted a pizza menu on the bar and decided to stay for a quick bite to eat. After enquiring with the bar staff we were directed round the back and across the car park to the grounds of the Manor House B&B, where we eventually stumbled across the River Cafe, nestled in the house gardens overlooking the River Wharfe and the hills beyond.
We ordered our food inside, along with a glass of Rose and a couple of bottles of Black Sheep Bitter and sat down at a picnic bench in the beautiful garden. Our drinks were quickly brought out and we happily waited, anticipating our food and enjoying the amazing views of the river and fells. We saw a chef come over from the pub and shortly our food was delivered.
We started with a portion of Dough Balls & Garlic Bread (£2.95 each). The garlic butter was deliciously heady with garlic and the handmade Dough balls rivalled any you can get in Pizza Express. With a crisp crust and doughy interior they were dunked into the pot of garlic butter and devoured; a hit.
Our pizzas promptly followed. We had opted to share a Margherita (the usual mozzarella, tomato & herbs, but with the extra addition of pepperoni - £5.50), a Hot Spicy Beef (minced beef, chorizo, jalapenos, onions, green pepper with Tabasco - £5.95) and a Rusticella (baked then topped with Parma ham, rocket, oven roasted tomatoes and parmesan - £5.95).
The pizza bases were very thin but the toppings generous and spread right to the edge. This meant that whilst not exactly crispy, there was just enough soft dough to carry the tasty toppings into our greedy, gaping mouths! The pizzas were delicious; not at all greasy and nor did they have that duvet-like thickness that often puts me off a badly made takeaway.
The sweet intensity of the tomatoes with the salty ham and peppery rocket on the Rusticella was a particularly memorable combination, but ultimately we couldn't agree or decide which one we liked best.
We are still not sure if it was just because we were slightly squiffy – yes it is possible that we were seduced by the delightful location, sunshine and the surprise and spontaneity of finding great pizza in the Yorkshire Dales - but we all agreed that these were some of the best pizzas we have eaten! Our experience was probably enhanced by the deliciously unexpected nature of our visit and the perfect end to the day but we would definitely recommend this hidden gem for a quick, cheap bite to eat. Well worth a visit - if you can resist the lure of the Red Lion itself, that is.
Dine inside or out, or also available to takeaway, the River Cafe at the Manor House is open for Pizza Friday, Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday Mondays 5.00pm - 9.00pm. Yum!
The Red Lion & Manor House B&B
Burnsall, Near Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 6BU