Guide To Good Food On The Move

Drive and Dine

When you have to eat on the move convenience often comes before quality, but here at Tiger.co.uk we’ve tracked down a few roadside cafes and eateries (some a little further off the busiest roads) that go the extra mile to keep motorists happy! Read on for a selection of the best meals on wheels in the UK and Europe! Click here to see each location on a map.

Laundry Court Coffee House (http://www.kirkharlecourtyard.co.uk/)

Address:  Kirkharle Courtyard, Kirkharle, Northumberland, NE19 2PE.

The landscape designer Lancelot "Capability" Brown was born in Kirkharle and a Capability Brown cream tea is yours for the taking.  Set in the middle of rolling countryside off the A696, this is home to handsome age-old farm buildings sympathetically tweaked by proprietors John and Kitty Anderson.  There are lots of buildings at Kirkharle Courtyard, each of which houses various galleries and workshops whose wares you can explore as you experience the specially blended Kirkharle Pumphrey's coffee.  In the summertime you can sit in the pretty stone courtyard; in winter, warm yourself in the seats next to the timber-burning stoves. There is a new coffee house menu for 2011 which is very simple and includes homemade soup, paté or an award winning pork pie.

OK Diners (www.okdiners.com)

Address:  8 locations in the north of England (see below).

This is a small network of American style diners situated on the roadside in 8 locations in the north of England.  Imagine the rock ‘n’ roll fifties in the USA, open air movies, Chevys and Buicks and thick shakes and burgers and you’ll get the picture.  These diners stand out in their design and have funky, brightly coloured interiors - great for family dining on long journeys and guaranteed to keep the children smiling.  The menu is everything you would expect from an old school American diner: Chicken wings, grills, burgers and hot dogs.  But there are also selections of salads and bagels to choose from too. OK Diners can be found throughout the North of England at the following locations:

  • NORTHOP HALL - Gateway Services, A55 Westbound, Northop Hall, Flintshire CH7 6HB.
  • TICKENCOTE - Bloody Oaks Service Station, A1 Northbound, Tickencote, Stamford, Lincs PE9 4AD.
  • CANNOCK - A5, Bridgetown, Cannock, Staffs WS11 0BN.
  • LEOMINSTER - A49, Ludlow Road, Ridgemoor, Leominster, Herefordshire HR6 ODQ.
  • NEW FOX - A1, Southbound, Colsterworth, Near Grantham, Lincs NG33 5LN.
  • CARLTON - A1 Northbound, Carlton-on-Trent, Newark, Notts NG23 6JF.
  • ELWICK - A19 Services Southbound, Elwick, Hartlepool, Cleveland TS27 3HH.
  • DERBY - A38 Southbound, Egginton, Derbyshire DE65 6GY.

Tebay Services (www.westmorland.com/tebay-services)

Address:  M6 (junction 38), Old Tebay, Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 3SS.

Since 1972 Tebay Services have been challenging motorists' expectations of what a motorway service station should be like.  These are the only services in the UK that are built and run by local people rather than faceless corporations - and it shows.  Both northbound and southbound services provide access to a farm shop, a gift shop and a self-service restaurant full of local produce, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The grounds of the service station have been tastefully developed, with an outdoor eating area complete with a BBQ serving homemade burgers and with many of the tables inside the restaurant looking out over the surrounding Howgills and a small lake full of inquisitive ducks.  Tebay Services has regularly won awards for best service station and has some other interesting accolades under its belt, including “Best Local Retailer” in 2003 from Radio 4’s Food and Farming show and a “Best Toilets in England” award in the Annual Loo of The Year awards for 2009!

Millstones & Mill 67 Bistro (www.millstonesharrogate.co.uk)

Address:  Skipton Road, Felliscliffe, Harrogate, North Yorks, HG3 2LT.

The A59 road to the Yorkshire Dales from Harrogate has an excellent stop-off.  Millstones, right next to the spooky Menwith Hill spy base, was developed in 2004 into a contemporary and comfortable eating establishment with great views over the surrounding countryside. Millstones itself has become a favoured hang out for older clientele who sing second world war hits and do the quickstep in two special suites with their own dance floor.  Road weary travellers can have morning coffee and fine lunchtime sandwiches, or choose from the varied menu (including homemade Thai fishcakes and Beef Wellington) in the next door Mill 67 Bistro.  Family-run by the local Peel family since the 1960’s it’s well worth a visit.

The Fishermans Retreat (www.fishermansretreat.com)

Address:  Riding Head Lane, Shuttleworth, Ramsbottom, Lancashire, BL0 0HH.

Close to both the M66 and the A56, the Fisherman's Retreat is worth a detour for its chips alone.  Situated in acres of beautiful countryside it claims to be one of the best pub restaurants in the North of England.  If you are planning on travelling that way it is worth checking out their website prior to leaving where they provide clear directions from both the North and South - just a short detour from the M60 and M65.  The owners of the pub also own the surrounding Twine Valley, home to many of the animals (including award- winning cattle) that feature on the extensive menu. This is a destination for meat lovers but there are fish dishes and lighter dishes available too. Families are welcome but notices caution that "runners, kickers and screamers" should be kept under control!  Views over the valley make this an excellent roadside stop off, but avoid the 500 malt whiskies for sale in the shop if you're planning to continue your journey by car!

The farmcafe & foodmarket (http://www.farmcafe.co.uk/)

Marlesford, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP13 0AG.

Those heading from the south-east to the Suffolk coast have but one road to take - the A12. Luckily for these drivers the farmcafe and foodmarket is an oasis just off the A12, to the north of Woodbridge.  The farmcafe was set up in 2001 and has a fantastic reputation for being one of the best breakfast and lunch venues in the South East.  You will pay roadside cafe prices for freshly made, locally sourced food, with a wonderful selection on the menu - from Orford kippers and a Suffolk fry up for breakfast, to handmade burgers or a Sutton Hoo free range chicken salad for lunch.  They also offer afternoon cream teas.  It might not look particularly promising from the road - the cafe is a converted petrol station - but it's spacious, with an outside terrace at the back, and there is also a field where kids can run off their car-journey frustrations.  After you’ve eaten you can shop ‘til you drop in the foodmarket where you can pick up some wonderful farm-produced goods.

Haldon Grill (www.transportcafe.co.uk/haldon_grill_exeter.html)

Address:  Telegraph Hill (A380), Kennford, nr Exeter, Devon, EX6 7XW.

A Westcountry welcome awaits you at this 50’s style diner.  A “proper” transport cafe with a family atmosphere, diners are a mix of holidaymakers, cyclists, bikers and walkers – many fresh from exploring the nearby Haldon Ridge.  Located on the A380 Torquay Road just after the end of the M5, it is also easily accessible from the A38.  There's a range of simple, freshly cooked specials such as cottage pie, chicken curry, veggie bakes and lasagne.  Fresh tea and coffee are always available along with a wide selection of cold drinks, all at very reasonable prices.

Something's Cooking (www.somethingscooking.net)

Address:  The Square, Letterston, Pembrokeshire, SA62 5SB.

If you happen to be taking the A40 to the west Wales coast or the Fishguard Ferry to Ireland, it is well worth plotting a course through Letterston in Pembrokeshire.  Something's Cooking describes itself as “a new experience” in fish and chips and has been serving locals and tourists for over 25 years.  They have restaurant and takeway menus so you can either eat in or take your food with you on your journey.  Choose from today’s catch or something a little more special such as homemade crab cakes or cockles and laver bread served with a fresh salad.  If fish is not your thing there are plenty of other things to choose from including sausages and fresh gammon steaks.  It has been said that the cod and chips are “superb” -  and cost little more than a fiver!

For those travelling a little further afield...

Back in 2009 Heston Blumethal wrote an article on the best places to eat on the move in Europe.  Here are some highlights from Spain, Italy and France. SPAIN:  Área Tudanca, A1 from Madrid to Irun (www.tudanca-aranda.com)

Área Tudanca is on the busy A1 outside Burgos at km153 in northern Spain and it is regularly voted the best of its kind in the country.  There can't be many service stations that make their own wine and organise walks through the vines - all to a backdrop of roaring traffic.  This roadside cafe was started 27 years ago and since then it has grown into a huge complex including a petrol station, restaurant, cafeteria, a children's playground and picnic area, two-star motel and shops.  It serves as a picturesque welcome break from a long drive. You can shop here for local fare such as hams and cheeses, breads and sweetmeats in the great deli or stop over at the wine themed hotel if you are in need of re-charging your batteries before carrying on your journey.  Quite a departure from most of the its UK counterparts.

ITALY:  Autogrill Sabina Magliano, A1

The A1 runs from Milan in the north of Italy right the way down to Napoli on the west coast. Autogrills are staples of European road travel.  In culinary terms they are generally way ahead of British motorway service stops.  The Sabina Magliano branch, near the Lazio-Umbria border at km509, is little short of amazing.  The coffee bar is buzzing with activity, with drivers fighting for elbow room on the countertop.  But the real sight to behold is the deli next to the bar, with legs of ham suspended from the ceiling and full of the unmistakable aromas of locally sourced salamis, cheese and truffles.  This is a wonderful place to stop off and take in the sights and aromas of Italy if you have a bored and hungry family in tow.

FRANCE: Villages Etapes (www.village-etape.com)

As well as conventional motorway services and rest stops, France has a growing number of villages and small towns that are signing up to the Village Etape scheme which started in 1989.  ‘Un étape’ literally means a stage along the way.  Villages Etapes are real villages that happen to be close to either toll-free autoroutes or important stretches of dual carriageway. All participating towns agree to provide a certain level of service, including food, fuel, rest areas and shops, and guarantee certain opening hours depending on the season.  Here are some examples of participating towns:

  • Torigni sur Vire on the A84 in Manche.
  • Pougues les Eaux on the A77 in Burgundy.
  • Ligny en Barrois on the RN4 in Lorraine.

Whether you’re driving at home or abroad on holiday, business or pleasure we hope that this guide helps to make the journey more enjoyable for you.  If you have any recommendations of your own for great places to break your journey to get a good quality, good value meal, please use the comments box below or leave a comment on our Facebook page (Tiger Insurance Comparison) and we’ll check it out for our next “drive and dine” review.

01/04/2011 13:58:29 Andrew

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