THEY say the first cut is the deepest, and when the Beeching Axe swung in the 1960s, it severed Richmond’s link to the rest of the railway world.

This left high and dry its magnificent station, which was designed by George Townsend Andrews who was the prince to the controversial Railway King, George Hudson.

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It was used as a garden centre, but dereliction and decay crept in, threatening what is one of the finest stations of the early railway age – Andrews designed it to fit in with the medieval and Georgian grandeur of the town, and then connected it up with the elegant Mercury Bridge over the Swale.

In 2007, the Station was reborn as an imaginative cinema/arts venue with niche foodie shops attached. At its heart was a restaurant, dining on the trackbed beneath Andrews’ spectacular glass and iron ceiling.

It seemed very popular, regularly full and offering good and interesting food – I once had an amazing plateful of nachos with chilli, topped with cheese, accompanied by guacamole, salsa, crème fraiche… If, as a restaurateur, you couldn’t make money there…

In May this year came the second cut. The restaurant closed overnight, the trackbed taped off and the bailiffs rummaging around in the kitchen. It ripped the heart out of the Station, and although it soon reopened as a cold cakey sort of a place, it wasn’t the same.

In the last couple of weeks, the restaurant has reopened. It has been re-orientated, and now a large window looks into the cooking area, but you still get the thrill of walking off the platform and sitting on the trackbed.

It still feels like a station, though, with a hubbub of people – daytrippers, dogwalkers and rural types in their big wellies – moving through the echoy terminal, looking at the artwork on the mezzanine level above or wandering down the platform to the shops.

We went by last Sunday, when the menu has five mains to choose from. There was the obvious roast beef (£9.95), but between us, we had a cutlet of roast pork (£8.95), shepherd’s pie (£9.95) and sea bass (£11.95) – the fifth option was sweet potato and chickpea falafel (£9.95).

The pork was a good silvery slab of meat, about a centimetre thick, still on the bone with a crispy crackling edge. It cut easily, and was wolfed down appreciatively by young Theo, along with the roast and mashed potatoes and the Yorkshire pudding.

Grandma had the sea bass that was served on a bed of green peas with a sliver of fennel on top. It was cooked perfectly, although she found the chilli and crab gnocchi a little bland.

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Sea bass fillet with fennel, chilli and crab gnocchi

Mine was the shepherd’s pie with a little twist of having smoked garlic mash. It came in a blisteringly hot lidded dish and featured great, stringy strands of lamb which aromatically combined with the wafting garlic. The meat was nicely moist, although there weren’t any natural juices at the bottom of the dish leaving it too dry to be perfect – especially as it was served with a large Yorkshire.

However, the pork and the pie had come with a dish of splendid vegetables – sugar snap peas, spring greens, carrot sticks, sprouting broccoli and the sculptural Romanesco broccoli that looks like green cauliflower. They came with a jug of proper roast gravy, which helped balance my pie, but they were so good, we could have done with more of them.

The short wait for dessert allowed time to study the people milling around the old railway concourse. My eye was caught by a man in clean, pressed jeans, a packet-fresh jumper and such pristine green wellingtons that he can have walked nowhere muddier than across the tarmac car park from the 4x4 he uses to go to the supermarket. Then there was an academic, with a shock of unruly hair, fashionably retro heavy plastic glasses, shirt buttoned tightly at the neck covered by a dark pinstripe jacket which, unaccountably, had a large pink stripe the length of the sleeve.

And finally a walker, in the stoutest black boots and the shortest grey shorts, complemented by a pink striped jumper and an orange and amber knitted hat pulled down over his ears.

Desserts were excellent. A fortnight ago in this space, I railed at spending £6 in a chain restaurant for a bog standard eggy toffee flan, but these desserts were fresh and imaginative for a fiver. Theo had a large warm bowl of honey rice pudding – the honey, not too sweet, was oozing at the side – topped with a great fleshy plum.

Grandma had a grandma-ishly sized lemon tart with two big balls of excellent raspberry sorbet, while I had chocolate nemesis with black cherry ice cream. To some, the Black Forest combination is very old-fashioned, but when done correctly, it is a big winner. There was a good piece of chocolate brownie accompanied by two balls of gorgeous black cherry ice cream, all sprinkled with strawberries and raspberries.

As the academic on the table opposite thought he could get away with his 1960s spectacles, there can be nothing wrong with a 1970s dessert when it is done this well.

So while we had little niggles about the main courses, the desserts were unimpeachable.

Service was prompt, and everything was delivered with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of burgundy paper napkins.

The weekday menu looks quite ambitious with main courses priced at around £15, but our Sunday total for three, with desserts and soft drinks came to £57. From that we can conclude that the Station is back on track.

The Station Café Bar


Tel: 01748 825967



Ambience: 8

Food quality: 7

Service: 7

Value for money: 7