Malcolm Warne metaphorically parks his bicycle outside a country cafe that’s growing in popularity

IT was Tour de Yorkshire weekend and the county seemed to be crawling with lycra-clad cyclists on their way to see, or perhaps just emulate, their heroes.

The Lakeside Farmshop and Country Café at Ellerton, near Scorton, is clearly a popular cyclists stop-off point and not just during big event weekends like the TdY. There was a steady stream of surprisingly elderly gentlemen channelling their inner Bradley Wiggins and intent on refuelling at the café.

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The cafe has clearly developed a reputation beyond the cycling community and is the most successful element of a farm diversification initiative which has its roots back in in 1998 when Graeme and Sarah Thompson took over the family pig farm and quickly realised, along with many other pig farmers at that time, that rearing porkers in the UK was not a sustainable way of life on its own.

So they converted a huge grain store into the café and farm shop. For a time the upper floor of the store was let to a country clothing supplier but that appears to have been a short-lived initiative. It is now a high-end bike supplier and repairer which helps to explain the attraction of Lakeside to serious cyclists.

There’s also a small garden centre and children’s play area to broaden Lakeside’s appeal. It is, to be fair, slightly off the beaten track of the Scorton to Northallerton main road so passing trade is probably limited.

That might explain why the farm shop has dwindled over the years. Local produce (preserves, cheeses, Graeme’s home-reared pork products, ready meals and baked goods) are still available but it is definitely more of an adjunct to the café these days.

We arrived shortly after 10 on Sunday morning and business was already brisk. Aside from the lurid lycra crew there were plenty of other folk in, like us looking for breakfast or just tea and cake. Never underestimate the capacity of us Brits to consume cake at any time of the day or week.

The café is light and airy with solid country-style tables and chairs well spread out and most with views over the garden, outside eating area for the better weather (actually, a few hardy souls were out there braving the north-easterly wind), the garden centre and open country beyond.

The breakfast offer (served between 9-11.15am seven days a week) is the full English or “traditional Yorkshire” plateful, plus bacon and sausage rolls, scrambled egg or bacon on a toasted muffin and the classic Eggs Benedict.

Sylvia opted for the full English (£8.35) which included toast and tea or coffee in the price. A first-class fry-up, the constituent parts were a golden Wensleydale egg, grilled, well-flavoured tomatoes, mushrooms and dry-cured bacon and two sausages.

Slightly surprisingly the bacon and sausages were not Graeme’s but he certainly knows where to source the best. The sausages were from Paul Dennis’s Masham Sausages business made from the best pork, loosely textured, slightly spicy and slow-cooked to a deep brown. The bacon was Duncan Haigh’s (Arthur Haigh of Dalton, near Thirsk, makers of the black pudding I do bang on about) dry cured back with just the right level of tangy saltiness.

My eggs benedict (£6) were made from similarly high-quality ingredients with the exception of the muffin which could have been a little softer. But what was really disappointing was the overcooked two poached eggs. The glory of this New York brunch dish is the soft egg yolk mingling with the hollandaise sauce and with these hard yolks that didn’t happen.

The hollandaise was fine but there could have a been a little more of it and there was no sign of the menu-listed chives, just a little ground pepper. It was by no means disastrous but just a few too many seconds in the poacher made all the difference.

I could, maybe I should, have sent it back but it was one of those occasions when I just felt life’s too short to make a scene over egg yolks. How very British of me, I thought. It certainly would not have passed muster in a Manhatten deli.

Everything else was lovely. Decent toast, strong tea (irritating non-pouring milk jug aside) and a marmalade from Bracken Hill preserves of Wheldrake, near York, which was rather surprising in that it was flavoured with chilli.

It turned out we had been served this by mistake (standard Seville orange marmalade is the norm) but I was so taken by it I almost purchased a jar.

We were well looked after by Sarah Thompson and her team despite them being pretty busy.

The bill was £17.95 (tea - £2.10 - was not of my breakfast deal) but that total also included £1.50 for half a dozen of those Wensleydale eggs.

The Lakeside Farmshop and Café,

North Farm, Ellerton, Scorton, Richmond DL10 6AP

Tel: 01748-818382 Web: www.thelakesidefarmshop.co.uk

Open: 9am-4pm seven days

Disabled access

Ratings:

Food quality: 3/5

Service: 4/5

Surroundings: 4/5

Value: 3/5