Fans of the tv series Victoria will be very familiar with the exterior and interior of Harewood House on the outskirts of Leeds, as it has featured heavily throughout a number of these programmes in various guises.
The house was built for Edwin Lascelles, the first Lord of Harwood between 1759 and 1771 by John Carr and Robert Adam, whilst the extensive grounds were landscaped by the redoubtable Lancelot (Capability) Brown.
The house, bird garden, Himalayan gardens, deer park and lake make this a fabulous day out and there are events throughout the year held in the grounds.
There are cafes and food outlets within the grounds but I would recommend going to a newly refurbished enterprise just 100yards along the A61 from the main entrance, on Church Lane in tiny Harewood village.
Muddy Boots café was originally a small, independently run, grass-roots café in separate, self-contained rooms within Harewood Village Hall and very pleasant it was too.
It has now been taken over by the Harewood Estate and was extensively refurbished in March 2019.
There is a small car park (honesty box fee) immediately outside, with blue-badge parking bays. All monies taken go towards the upkeep of the Village Hall. There is a ramp for wheelchair users to gain access.
Inside, the place is simple but cosy and easy on the eye.
There is a small service counter with a display of lovely cakes and scones.
Dark-wood flooring dominates throughout whilst the paintwork is light and airy.
There are a couple of leather sofas. The tables are made from reclaimed dark timber with industrial style riveted edges. Chairs are padded leather.
The main room leads off into a second room and extended into a third beyond.
Talented young chef Josh Whitehead has revitalised the menus which include gluten-free and vegetarian options.
Most of the dishes on the menu are cooked from scratch on the premises, sourcing as much produce directly from the Harewood estate as possible whilst everything else comes from local suppliers who champion ethical, locally sourced ingredients.
It should be borne in mind that this is a small operation and that, at times, the place is very busy. Cooking from scratch takes time and there will sometimes be a delay in presenting the meals. Customers are advised of this at the time of ordering.
Chill out and enjoy the ambience, which has always been relaxed and friendly. It is certainly worth waiting for.
I would advise booking in advance as word about this excellent eatery spreads like wildfire.
Given it’s location, the café is popular with walkers. Bacon sandwiches are a head-line act here as are the belly-busting full English breakfasts at £8 including hot drinks and sour-bread toast.
Staff have always been polite and friendly on my visits.
The regular lunch menu on my latest visit (of many) had quite a few choices I could have gone for, including a Yorkshire Ploughman’s platter of local pork pie with various Yorkshire cheeses and chorizo, pickles, apple, celery salad and warm bread (£8). Bangers and mash with gravy (£6.50) and a hot Yorkshire pork pie with homemade mushy peas and piccalilli with watercress (£6.50) also caught my gastronomic eye.
However, I could not resist the Harewood Estate lamb shepherd’s pie with roasted Chantenay baby carrots (£7). This was served in a metal pot of tender lamb pieces – not mince, with piped creamy mash, cooked in the oven with a side of gorgeously tender carrots. So tasty, and as a main, would have cost twice the price in local restaurants.
The specials blackboard offered a red pepper vegetarian option at £6.
The prices here are amazingly low for food of such high quality.
Muddy Boots is trialling evening menus on certain nights and judging by the excellent food served up by Josh and his team, this should be successful.
Service is by local people, friendly and efficient.
After a great breakfast or lunch here, you can access the Harewood Estate and deer park free of charge simply by walking down the lane to the front of Muddy Boots café, either for a short stroll with great views over to Almscliffe Crags and the deer park, or complete a four and a half mile easy going circuit of the Estate on good footpaths and back to Muddy Boots cafe.
Muddy Boots does not have it’s own website but details can be obtained from