FARM shops have been among the essential businesses that have kept us going through the past year.

Avoiding the melee in the supermarket and staying ultra-local has been particularly attractive during these difficult days and months.

Among them has been Spring House Farm Shop on the A684 just east of Leeming Bar.

We’ve always had a soft spot for Spring House. One of the earliest farm shops in this area, it has stayed true to a basic farm shop principle, that is selling the freshest, locally-sourced produce from the farm.

Rather a lot of farm shops these days stretch that simple philosophy to great lengths – some are so damn posh they might as well be branches of Fortnum and Mason, selling stone-baked focaccia and organic tofu – with prices to match of course.

That’s not to say that Spring House is basic. Far from it. For example, the home baking there is always superb and you won’t find better meringues (check out their meringue nests, pavlovas and roulades) anywhere round here.

The shop has an integral café serving lunches, teas and snacks (previously reviewed in this column positively) and since the arrival of the pandemic it has created a Covid-secure one-way system and a covered alfresco eating area which they hope to have back in use again when the lifting of restrictions on the hospitality industry allow.

But that is for another day and for the time being, apart from selling their range of life’s locally-sourced food essentials, there are takeaway lunches and afternoon teas available.

We recently tried the Sunday lunch which has to be booked and a timed collection slot arranged.

You also have to take as many dinner plates as you have ordered meals for and hand them over on arrival. They then plate up with what’s been ordered, cover with foil and place in a large box to be carried to the car.

Eating out at Spring House Farm Shop

Eating out at Spring House Farm Shop

A good tip here: make sure your boot is clear so you can place said box on a nice flat surface. With my boot full of walking gear and stuff destined for the tip, I placed mine in the front passenger seat foot well. It was nice and flat but getting it in and out was tricky and led to some gravy spillage in the box.

Apart from that, which was entirely my fault, the system works well and saves on takeaway containers. It also means that when you take the foil off the steaming plates you are presented with something that looks like a proper Sunday dinner rather than something, which after being decanted from those infernal containers, looks more like something that’s come out of a blender.

Eating out at Spring House Farm Shop

Eating out at Spring House Farm Shop

So it looked good but did it taste good?

Living about 12 minutes from Spring House, we had popped our plates in the oven for a couple of minutes to heat through again.

Which wasn’t good for the Yorkshire puddings which were handsome in size and shape but were rather over-crisped.

Everything else, with the exception of the Brussels sprouts which had taken on that tell-tale less-than-vibrant sage green colour suggesting a long time since first being cooked, survived the re-heat.

The meat was top notch, particularly my roast pork which was sourced from Taste Tradition the rare-breed meat producers from near Thirsk. Cold Kirby to be more precise which I always think is a most appropriate name for a spot at the top of Sutton Bank. It’s bound to be chilly up there.

Which rare-breed pig – Gloucester Old Spot, Oxford Sandy and Black or Saddleback – my pork came from I don’t know but I do know that this was pork with real piggy flavour unlike anything you pick up sweating in plastic on your local supermarket shelf. There was crackling with decent snap and also stuffing and a tart apple sauce.

Sylvia was also taken with her roast topside of beef, the roast potatoes and the other vegetables which were leeks and carrots. There was ample gravy too, served separately in a sealed container.

These were substantial platefuls but I had also taken the liberty of ordering a dessert which I know Sylvia would not wish to share – bread and butter pudding with custard, a rich, vanilla-y version still with a little crunch to the topping which, considering the time which had elapsed between serving and eating, was quite remarkable.

Eating out at Spring House Farm Shop

Eating out at Spring House Farm Shop

The cost of this was £9.95 for the one main course and £11.95 for the two course option. Cracking value.

Spring House Farm Shop

Northallerton Road, Scruton, Northallerton, DL7 9LG

Tel: 01677 422212; web:

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 8 Covid security 9 Container wastage 9 Value 10