I CAN’T tell you how excited I am about this place.

It’s in Bedale – not a town hitherto known for its high-end eateries (no disrespect to the excellent Institution) – it’s just opened at a time when running any form of hospitality venue is a bit tricky to put it mildly, and it works. Really well.

The people behind it have entrepreneurial form, it should be said. But the establishment of Tom and Nellie’s at North End is a significant achievement in the context of what they have spent the last couple of years doing.

Karl and Cathy Mason established their eponymous gin business less than ten years ago, built it into one of the nation’s leading boutique gin brands and were well set when a major fire destroyed their Aiskew distillery in 2019.

They built a new one in less than a year, and opened it in March 2020 – just in time for the pandemic.

Having weathered the economic storm of 2020/21 one might think they would perhaps take a breather.

Not a bit of it. With the purchase of the old Panetti’s building they decided to open a restaurant in a sector of the economy known for its high failure rate. Even before the pandemic 60 per cent of independent restaurants don’t make it past the first year.

Why do it? Well sentiment has part to play in this story.

Tom and Nellie’s is named after the grandparents of Cathy Mason. They moved to Bedale in the 1939, were the vergers at St Gregory’s Church for 50 years and lived in this building for most of that time.

While happy family memories can be an excellent motivation for all sorts of things, basing a business on such sentiment is often flawed.

But in this case I think not. It’s brilliant.

The Grade-II listed building has been gutted and turned into a thoroughly contemporary dining space which retains all the character of the original structure.

It’s a little bit cool, a little bit funky but not so out there as to put off the older generations of Bedale folk who will remember fondly – and with good reason – the days when it was Panetti’s.

Tom and Nellies at North End, Bedale

Tom and Nellie's at North End, Bedale

As one might expect it serves a mighty good Masons Yorkshire gin and tonic. Ideal refreshment while perusing a menu designed to cover the hours between 10am and 10pm with brunch dishes like classic Omelette Arnold Bennet and Yorkshire puddings filled with scrambled egg and truffle or sausage, black pudding and baked beans.

There are snacks (Wensleydale and Black Sheep rarebit), small plates (spaghetti vegetables), sharing boards (cheesy, fishy and meaty), steaks, some fish and seafood plus flatbreads.

Throughout is a strong reliance on local produce – whether its Lishman’s air-dried ham, Yellison’s goats cheese, Otterburn Mangalitza pork or Doreen’s estimable black pudding.

That last one – produced by the Haigh family at Dalton, near Thirsk – played a starring role in my starter – a scotch egg (£5).

Now if you find a typical scotch egg too much, too hard-boiled, too dense, too deep fried – I recommend you try this.

Bizarrely perhaps, the use of black pudding in place of the traditional sausage meat makes it lighter (which explains why it features on the ‘snack’ section of the menu) and the egg yolk is only just set. The breadcrumb coating is thin and crispy. The homemade brown sauce (less sharp than HP) is a thoughtful accompaniment.

The Scotch egg at Tom and Nellies, with black pudding in place of the traditional sausage meat

The Scotch egg at Tom and Nellie's, with black pudding in place of the traditional sausage meat

I loved it and Sylvia, not a big fan of the traditional scotch egg, did too as she snaffled a couple of bites.

Sylvia’s spatchcocked poussin (£18), grilled with lemon and thyme, was buttery flesh and crispy-skinned goldenness served with top-hole chunky chips, beef tomato and mushroom to which she added a mixed leaf salad (£3).

My Otterburn Managalitza pork (from near Helmsley and not Northumberland as the name implies) burger (£15) was a little unseasoned but there was plenty of other flavours going on such as the baba ganoush (aubergine and sesame seed) sauce, the slice of Ribblesdale gouda cheese and the piquancy of a splash of Yorkshire relish.

The skinny fries were as good as Sylvia’s chunky ones and we shared a really good red cabbage and fennel slaw (£3).

A dessert menu which didn’t feature sticky toffee pudding (Hoo-bloody-ray!!) deserved to be tested and the apple and acorn cake (£7) served with blackcurrant sorbet was all kinds of sweet and sharp rightness.

We found it really hard to find fault with anything and thought £75 for a meal and drinks (two glasses of Picpoul and a latte included) was pretty much a bargain taking into account the surroundings and the service from a group of youngsters who were spot-on throughout the evening.

One observation for the coming winter: downstairs diners in the front dining space bar will appreciate some protection from entrance doorway draughts.

Tom and Nellie’s

7-9 North End, Bedale DL8 2BS

Tel: 01677 425270 Web: tomandnellies.co.uk

Plenty of vegan friendly, vegetarian and gluten-free options

Open: 10am-9pm Wednesday, Thursday; 10am-10pm Friday, Saturday; noon-6pm Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 10, Service 10, Surroundings 10, Value 10