MASHAM is about as Yorkshire as Yorkshire gets. Beautiful walks by the river, past the cricket pitch and up into the market square which is surrounded by venerable stone buildings and is the venue of the annual sheep fair. A Yorkshire tea room, overlooking a monument to the current Yorkshire obsession with cycling, sells meals in Yorkshire puddings.

Yes, as Yorkshire as Yorkshire gets – there’s the sweet smell of a feud hanging in the air as this small town of 1,200 souls has two breweries, one called Theakston’s and the other run by the black sheep of the Theakston family.

It’s even got a trace of the county’s cussedness in its name: how can it be pronounced Massam when there’s clearly a sh, as in sheep, in the middle?

So in such quintessentially Yorkshire surroundings it is a big surprise in a honey-stoned building next to the church a Middle Eastern cafe.

Johnny Baghdad’s is small, as crowded as a souk and as steamy as an Arabic summer. It’s dazzlingly decorated, with bright red walls covered in sparkly eastern fabrics and climbing geckos, and the attentive black-clad waitresses expertly weave their way between the tables carrying full trays like women in a bazaar.

There is a conventional Yorkshire menu of sandwiches, baps and paninis, but it is on the specials blackboard where east meets west – and that’s not just ridings.

For vegetarians, there was cauliflower, paneer and pea curry, or Moroccan spiced koftas, or goat’s cheese, roasted pepper and tomato chilli chutney wrap, each priced around £8.

I opted for the more conventional homemade beef burger topped with cheddar, fried onions and mayo (£9.25), and we also had a smoked mackerel pate (£7.75) a spicy chicken served in tomato salsa on a flatbread with houmous (£8.50), and homemade fishcakes (£8.50).

We’d stumbled upon Johnny Bagdad’s on an early November Sunday lunchtime, a day mild enough for the dogwalkers to still be happily sitting outside the café. It was full inside, but due to the vigilant waitresses and extremely efficient kitchen, the turnaround time was amazingly short.

All of our dishes came quickly and were served with Johnny Baghdad’s east meets west salad. It had lettuce, cucumber and tomato as well as grapes, chickpeas, olives and beetroot which made more than a mere accompaniment: the sweetness of the grapes, the richness of the olives, the graininess of the chickpeas and the slithery earthiness of the beetroot turned it into a talking point in itself.

The spicy chicken wasn’t especially spicy but had great big chunks of white, tender chicken in a rich red salsa. A dollop of smooth houmous and plenty of flatbread made a good dish.

The fish dishes were well judged: you could tell that the fishcakes had had smoked haddock in them, as billed, rather than just being a mash-up of potato, and the pate was not overpoweringly mackerel. It was a fair-sized portion for a main with plenty of brown bread toast.

I enjoyed my moist burger which had a really good creamy, mushy topping of the cheese, onions and mayo all merging together. The only problem was the soft white bun which was structurally disastrous: the juicy burger and the creamy topping caused the bread to disintegrate as I tried to pick it up, leaving me with a half-bitten bit of burger between my fingers and debris falling onto my plate and shirt. Burgers in a restaurant always present a dilemma about the correct way to eat them – fingers or fork? – but this one could only be tackled with eating implements.

We decided to treat ourselves to cake because the flavours sounded intriguing and at £3-a-slice, it was a fair price.

A chocolate and orange brownie was big and gloopy, although not especially orangy, whereas the courgette and lime cake was bursting zestily with lime. I had a chocolate and Guinness cake, which looked beautiful and velvety although it was delivered with a paper serviette between it and the plate so that the nice icing soaked into the serviette, rendering the paper useless, the plate pointless and depriving me of a couple of precious morsels sweetness.

I split hairs: it was a fine cake with an aftertaste of the brewery about it – it tasted just like our walk past the Black Sheep had smelled.

The bill was presented with a heavy gecko paperweight on top of it. It came to £55 for four mains, three pieces of cake and plenty of drinks.

It was a most imaginative and appealing collision of cultures – pick n mix cuisine, with an American burger emerging from a kitchen with an Iraqi name alongside Levantine houmous, Persian kofta and Scottish mackerel. I was hugely disappointed to discover later from the café’s website that the special Steak and Snail Pie had not been on the menu on the day I visited – to honour the Tour de Yorkshire, it was made from British beef, French snails and Yorkshire ale, and would have been my first choice.

We shall return to see what is cooking in this typically curious corner of Yorkshire.