WE became a nation of accidental savers in 2020. One of the side effects of our extended lockdown was that we just haven’t been spending on all sorts of things. Like eating out.

In April, the first full month of restrictions, we stashed away more than £16bn. We paid off more than £5bn of credit card debt. Over three months to the end of June the accumulated savings reportedly amounted to £157bn.

Because of working from home and the virtual closure of the hospitality industry, the average family was almost £500 a month better off.

While some may not be in that happy state of Micawberish plenty, a good many clearly are, which may mean it is time to dine at the Wensleydale Heifer in West Witton.

Because this multi-award-winning establishment is seriously posh – and expensive.

One need only look at the menu. The prices are one thing but the typographical device of capitalising Every Single Word tells you this is A Very Important Place.

For example: “An Optional 10% Service Charge Will Be Added To Your Bill For The Hard Work & Dedication Of The Staff. If You Prefer To Decline From This Could You Please Inform Your Waiter”.

I’ve no problem with “optional” service charges but I have with indiscriminate use of capital letters. Stop It Now!

And I beg your forgiveness for the ramblings of an old-fashioned newspaperman who for years was told – and told others – that unnecessary capital letters made things harder to read and took up too much precious space.

While space might not be issue in the context of the Heifer’s extensive a la carte menu, readability certainly is and might explain one nearby diner’s confusion over the lobster menu (The Heifer specialises in fish) and the eye-watering cost of her surf and turf selection.

When the bill came, she expressed surprise given that the way it was listed on the menu “Choose a Half Lobster and Steak Dish - £39.50 + Steak”. She hadn’t realised, perhaps naively, that it meant the cost of the steak (starting price point on the Grill Room Menu is £24) was added to the £39.50.

Observing the maitre’d pointing this out ever so discreetly and charmingly, from an appropriate social distance of course, was a highlight of the meal. Never has someone’s mistake been explained to them with such gentle patience, charisma, grace and style. Having paid their rather bigger than expected bill, the couple left beaming.

That is the essence of good service, I guess. Paying through the nose for something but not feeling in any way that it wasn’t worth it.

As we were musing on this at our window seat at the front of the Heifer’s fishy-themed dining room, a Bentley Mulsanne cruised past almost silently on the A684. How appropriate we thought.

The Northern Echo:

The Heifer’s warm embrace of its customers does go a long way to justify its prices and, or course, if you dine early week for the remainder of this month, you can take advantage of Mr Sunak’s Eat Out to Help scheme and knock £10 a head off your bill.

We were there before the scheme kicked in so our bill for two starters, two mains and two glasses of wine almost topped £110.

The service was excellent. The food was excellent.

Sylvia considered her Greenland Prawn Cocktail, Iceberg, Jack Daniel’s Marie Rose, Granary Bread & Butter (£10.50) luscious.

My New Season Burrata Cheese with Heritage Tomato & Pine Nut Pesto Panzanella Salad (that’s enough capital letters – Ed) and rosemary grissini and rocket (£12.75) was a textural triumph. The creamy smooth burrata, crunchy pine nuts, crispy grissini and sweet baby tomato worked beautifully together.

Sylvia thought her roast rump of Nidderdale lamb, served with charred courgette, grilled red peppers, pesto sauted potatoes, buttered spinach, blush tomato and pesto jus (£24.75) pretty amazing. It looked beautiful on the plate (as did everything to be fair) and the lamb was as tender and flavoursome as Sylvia imagined lamb could be.

I had a pancake (£26.50). But not just any old pancake. This was the size and shape of a mini rugby ball packed with wild Atlantic halibut, Greenland prawns, king scallops, smoked salmon, spinach and glazed with a Swiss cheese sauce.

The Northern Echo:

The halibut might have been slightly overcooked but the overall impression was Wow. And that’s with a capital W. It was that good.

As we also enjoyed some amuse bouche – little tartlets filled with pea puree and some Parmesan crisps – before our starters we couldn’t realistically contemplate desserts.

The bill of £109 was bumped up by an espresso (£3.75), two glasses of Prosecco £6.95x2), a small glass of wine (£6.95) and, of course, that 10 per cent optional service charge which we felt was entirely justified.

Armed with Rishi’s delicious discount which will knock £20 off a meal for two people, now is surely the time to invest those lockdown savings in a Wensleydale Heifer experience.

The Wensleydale Heifer

Main Street, West Witton, Leyburn DL8 4LS

Tel: 01969 622322 Web: wensleydaleheifer.co.uk

Disabled access. All dietary requirements met.

Open Mon-Sat noon-2pm, 6-9.15pm; Sun noon-2.30pm, 6-9.15pm

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 10, Service 10, Surroundings 8 Value 8