After a week away with friends enjoying the fells and food of the Lake District, what better way to ease back into work – and retain that holiday feeling – than a midweek cafe lunch surrounded by beautiful countryside?

To escape from the computer screen for a bit, I headed to Roots farm shop and cafe at East Rounton, near Northallerton, a bustling business I have often stopped off at while cycling in the area. It's well set-up for hungry, Lycra-clad customers on two wheels, with plenty of outdoor seating, including a mini-marquee and an extensive bike rack. For those accompanied by their four-legged friends, there's a dog friendly "reading nook" outside the main cafe.

This week, with a chill wind blowing and the temperature barely in double figures, the cyclists were wisely huddled inside, and I joined them in the warmth of the cafe. Just where has our summer gone.

Roots was created in 2008 with the aim of connecting the community with farming, and making the business more sustainable by selling produce directly to the customer. It has grown to now employ 35 local staff and is housed in 19th Century buildings at Home Farm on the Arncliffe Estate. As the back of the menu helpfully describes, the buildings were designed by Philip Webb, the father of the Arts and Crafts movement, who is best known for his informal country houses. Home Farm is said to be a rare example of his work extending beyond grand mansions, with the architecture reflecting the same level of craftsmanship and design as his larger projects.

Roots offers a full breakfast menu from 9am to 12pm, with a good selection of traditional and lighter items, plus plenty of vegetarian options. The lunch menu runs from 12pm to 3pm and includes toasties (£9.95), soup (£6.50 with bread or £7.75 with a scone) and sausage/bacon butties. There is also a terrific selection of cakes and scones that no doubt catch the cyclists' eyes (as they often have mine), while the coffee is roasted just a stone's throw away by Rounton Coffee.

The specials list provided some more intriguing items, including a baked lemon and herb salmon fillet with salad (£11.95), and a wrap with Korean-style crispy chicken (£10.95), but after much deliberation, I chose the honey roasted chicken and stuffing sandwich with chips (£12.95).

It was served in a toasted focaccia bun (on a breadboard, rather than a plate) and was absolutely delicious. Packed with huge chunks of moist chicken that melted in the mouth, and a generous coating of sticky, flavoursome sage and onion stuffing, it felt like a real treat and just the thing to get over the post-holiday blues. The chips could have had a little more taste, but were helped by a hefty dose of salt.

I had no space for a cake after demolishing my sandwich and the chips, so I took some away for later – a huge chunk of orange drizzle cake and a slice of rocky road. The orange cake was superb – so tangy, light, and well, orangey, that it almost felt like one of my five a day (fruit and veg portions that is, not cakes). The rocky road was as sweet as they come – probably best to enjoy if you have arrived by bike, a perfect sugary hit to keep those pedals turning.

Service throughout was calm, brisk and efficient but in no way rushed. The bill, for lunch, two cakes and a coffee, came to £23.30. Pretty decent value.

It would have been nice to stay for longer and enjoy another drink, peruse the well-stocked farm shop next door, or check out the fresh produce on sale in the converted sheds, but the computer was calling. Fortified by my excellent lunch, and heartened to see how many customers were coming and going to support Roots' ethos of selling sustainable, local produce, I felt ready to get back to reality once more.


Home Farm, East Rounton, Northallerton, DL6 2LE.

01609 882480

Cafe open 9am to 4pm every day, last food orders at 3pm

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 8 Surroundings 8 Service 8 Value 8