THIS may sound downright sacrilegious to some but I’m really not that fussed about chips.

That’s chips as in pieces of potato – usually deep fried.

I know that’s not how most people feel. Many is the time that I have waxed lyrical about the quality of the food somewhere - the freshness of the fish, the incredibly well-flavoured meat, the delicate saucing and the exquisite presentation only for the listener to respond: “Yeah, that’s all very well and good mate but what about the chips?”

Chips are chips, aren’t they? I mean these days they come in all shapes and sizes – matchstick, shoestring, curly, chunky – and they can be twice-fried, thrice-fried in a huge variety of exotic oils. But, at the end of the day, they are just fried potato – and how dull is that?

More often than not I leave piles of chips uneaten. I’ll try one or two for form’s sake or to ensure I have sampled them for the purposes of this column to tell you that they were crisp or, err, soggy.

But mostly they leave me cold and I’ll leave ‘em – to go cold.

Until last week when the chips were the undisputable star of the show and certainly not because everything else on the plate was average – far from it.

In fact I was so impressed by the chips - and Sylvia who is a little bit more enthusiastic about the critters generally agreed with my assessment - that I felt obliged to take a picture of what might be the perfect chip. I think you’ll agree it’s a handsome example of the genre.

What made them so special? The size was right – nothing too chunky and not too thin – they were lightly crisp, the colour was mid-tan and the inside beautifully fluffy. Sylvia commented sagely that she thought they were made from King Edwards or Maris Piper.

Whatever, I finished the lot which is as great tribute as I can deliver on something so fundamentally ordinary as a chip.

Where were we? Sorry, an important detail I seem to have omitted so far.

It’s Fletcher’s Farm at the foot of Captain Cook’s monument near Great Ayton. As well as being a working farm there’s a farm shop (which is, as farm shops go, a bit underwhelming to be honest), a campsite, a pottery and a coffee shop which was well as serving coffee and lots of sweet stuff, does hearty lunches.

The coffee shop is in an impressively converted barn which, as well as having stupendous view of the Monument and Moors beyond, has an outside decked area, a clean and modern interior with big windows to capture the view and a range of seating for lounging or sit-up dining. Downstairs is a big function room if you fancy getting wed there.

Lunch options include sandwiches, toasties, jacket potatoes, salads and a huge variety of all-day breakfast options including the monstrous-sounding “Farmer Breakfast” – two sausages, two fried eggs, two rashers of bacon, two hash browns, beans, mushrooms and two slices of toast, all for £7.95. That really is an all-day breakfast.

There are also daily specials which we selected from. There was a cheese and broccoli quiche with salad and new potatoes (£7.50), smoked salmon and scrambled egg on a toasted muffin (£5.95 or £7.95 with chips), a cheese and pepperoni sandwich special and our choice, a chicken and leek pie (£8.95) for me and a beef baguette (£7.95) for Sylvia. Both were served with chips and gravy.

I can’t tell you anything more useful about the chips other then they must surely be contenders for best in DS&T land.

But the pie measured up too. A creamy chicken and leek mixture with some chunky pieces of tender chicken was topped by a good shortcrust pastry lid. The vegetables – cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage were rather over-cooked sadly.

Sylvia’s baguette was a whole, small baton, halved, split and stuffed to overflowing with richly-braised beef. Along with the chips, there was far too much for her to manage; Benji very much enjoyed the contents of the doggy bag when we got home. It was ten out of ten from him.

There was no way we were going to consider something to finish despite the temptation – for me at any rate – of the range of tremendous-looking cakes in the chiller cabinet.

Fletchers is licensed so I did enjoy a refreshingly bitter-sweet Yorkshire Cider from the Cropton Brewery at Pickering; Sylvia had a soft drink.

Service was a mix of self and table service. You order at the counter but it is brought to you. In our case it was pretty swift but we definitely got our timing right. Shortly after we had placed our order what seemed like a coach-load of customers piled in. We suspect some of them might have had to wait a little while.

The bill was a very reasonable £22.40.


Fletchers Farm Coffee Shop, Fletchers Farm, Great Ayton, TS9 6HZ

Tel: 01642 723846


Open: Wednesday-Sunday 9.30-4pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Disabled access.

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 8, Service 7, Surroundings 8, Value 9