IT’s certainly been the weather for porridge of late.

I’m not particularly hardcore about how it should be served. Scottish purists say it should be with water but as a wimpy Englishman I always go with milk (semi-skimmed of course). And treacle, or golden syrup or honey with perhaps a trickle of vanilla extract.

Which is not particularly adventurous I realised last weekend when breakfasting out and being presented with a porridge menu. That’s a notable first for the column.

We were The Joiner’s Shop Coffee House in Ingleby Arncliffe/Cross, the village(s) that sit in the cleft formed by the A19 and A172 so it’s off the beaten tracks but actually very close to both.

Opened in the summer of last year, The Joiner’s Shop is something of a strange beast in that it is not easily categorised. It is certainly much more than just a coffee house serving drinks and cakes but it’s not a restaurant or even a café either.

Perhaps it’s been called a coffee house because the people behind it – Dave Beattie and Dave Burton – are the enterprising folk behind the micro-coffee roasting and blending business Rounton Coffee and the Joiner’s is where you can sample some of slightly bewildering ranges of coffees, chocolates and teas.

The food menu is a selection of dishes best described as brunch. Most of them can be happily eaten at breakfast, lunch or later and that’s handy because the menu’s an all-day affair.

We arrived shortly after opening last Saturday when the snow was still pretty thick on the ground and the heating inside was only just getting to grips with the cold. We were advised that the heaters in the upper eating area were the most efficient so we made our way upstairs and bagged ourselves the warmest spot.

To be fair there wasn’t much competition because the place was empty. But within half-an-hour however it had filled up nicely and the temperature rose accordingly.

The conversion from its previous role as a furniture workshop has been nicely done. Simple, no-nonsense heavy wooden tables and chairs, dog-friendly (and they are very much welcomed) laminate flooring and a light and airy white and blue colour scheme make for a clean, neat, if perhaps ever-so slightly characterless feel.

The menu is certainly not lacking in attitude. There’s lots of local sourcing (Thompson’s Butchers Northallerton; Stamfrey Farm, West Rounton; Bracken Hill, York; Acorn Dairies, Darlington, among others) and a lot of avocado and berries which rather sets the trendy tone.

From the awesome porridge menu, which includes an oat milk version with cranberries and another with cinnamon and caramelised apple, I chose the traditional, with honey, mixed berries and a fruit compote (£4.75) which apart from anything else was as pretty as a bowl of porridge can be.

It tasted just as good as it looked, particularly the compote which lurked towards the bottom and gave the whole thing a fruity fillip just at that point when I was thinking I’d had enough. It’s often that way with porridge I find; you get two-thirds of way through and start asking yourself why you are eating this stuff which you know is good for you but looks like cement mix.

I then had the Eggs Benedict (£7.95) and I should say at this point: don’t try this at home. It was simply too much food. What I do for all of you in the interests of research.

So I didn’t enjoy the three poached eggs, served on a toasted English muffin with crispy Parma ham, slow-roasted cherry tomatoes and Hollandaise sauce as much as I should have. It was absolutely spot-on, from the perfectly cooked (nicely runny) eggs to the super-smooth and creamy Hollandaise but I felt like a pig as I forced myself to finish it. It would have been a crime not to. This felony had been compounded by helping myself to some of the toast platter (£3.50 for four slices of thick white bloomer plus butter and Bracken Hill jam) between courses.

Sensible Sylvia had contented herself with mixing and matching a slice of toasted white bloomer with two poached eggs (£2.50) and bacon (£1.40) which she said easily matched mine for the quality of the eggs (top marks for the golden yolks).

She also had a latte (£2.70) which was so good she had a second. My mocha (£3) was historic – the blend of coffee and chocolate getting the bitter-sweet balance absolutely right.

Service was excellent throughout, led by manager Steve who some may remember from the late and lamented Olivia’s coffee shop in Northallerton. The bill was just shy of £30 which seems steep but I had pigged out and needed no lunch that day.

Business is clearly good. They have taken on an apprentice to help meet demand and will shortly open seven days a week.


The Joiner’s Shop, Cross Lane, Ingleby Cross, North Yorkshire, DL6 3ND

Tel: 01609 882762


Open: 9.30am (10am Sunday)-4pm. Closed Wednesday.

Plenty of gluten-free/vegetarian/vegan/lactose-free options

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