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Restaurant Review: The Poorhouse, Great Ayton

Updated: Apr 9

In the 18th century, typical fare at this former workhouse was pauper’s porridge. Today, it’s serving up pizzas that are fit for a prince…

The Poorhouse, Great Ayton: pepperoni pizza

The Poorhouse, Great Ayton

What to expect at The Poorhouse

Great Ayton’s “poorhouse”, also known as a workhouse – those institutions so scathingly derided by Dickens –, was built in 1786 to accommodate destitute villagers who were unable to support themselves. Two cottages housed up to twenty-four impoverished inmates who would be expected to work in return for shelter and food rations. The establishment closed in the mid-1840s and its forlorn past became lesser known as time progressed.

Nearly a couple of centuries later, though, the building was opened to the public once more, this time with much happier destiny. Whilst its history is remembered in the name, owners Michael and Cherie Larkin’s vision for The Poorhouse was to transform it into a hub of hospitality and, despite the challenges of opening a restaurant and cafe in February 2020, the superb job that they’ve done has allowed it to become a popular spot with a fantastic reputation.

The Poorhouse, Great Ayton

The interior has retained many of its original features – there’s a stone-surrounded open fireplace and timber ceiling beams. The vibe is cosy and welcoming and the staff warm and friendly. During the daytime it’s a traditional cafe and, on an evening, a bustling restaurant. A central bar area is surrounded by a couple of small dining areas, plus extra seating upstairs, and there’s a lovely courtyard to the rear that’s wonderful in the summer.

The Poorhouse, Great Ayton

What’s to eat at The Poorhouse?

The Poorhouse has a concise but well-planned menu; it’s simple food done very well. Lunch has light bites – choose from homemade soup of the day with a scone, various toasties, hot roast sandwiches or creamed garlic mushrooms on toast. Freshly-baked cakes and scones are available on the counter – perfect with a coffee or luxury hot chocolate. The evening, though, is our favourite time to visit, when the courtyard’s woodburning oven is fired up and this casual cafe transforms into a vibrant pizza place. Booking is highly recommended – tables fill up fast and the pizzas are not to be missed!

The Poorhouse, Great Ayton

What’s to drink at The Poorhouse?

The Poorhouse has beers and a cider on keg – Estrella, Shipyard Pale Ale, Wainwright Gold and Thatcher’s Haze – plus bottled lagers and beers. There’s a small selection of wines and an extensive range of spirits. Soft drinks, coffees and other hot drinks are also on offer.

The Poorhouse, Great Ayton: vegan pizza

What did we have at The Poorhouse?

We visited The Poorhouse on a frosty January evening and were greeted in the front room by a welcome, roaring fire and our very friendly host. We were there, of course, for one thing… the much-acclaimed pizzas! The menu keeps things classic: margarita, roasted vegetable, mushroom, Hawaiian, spicy chicken or pepperoni. Extra toppings can be added and, if you’re undecided, you can go for half-and-half. We opted for pepperoni with extra mushrooms and roasted veg with jalapenos and chilli oil.


And… did they live up to the hype? …Absolutely! We had everything you could want in a pizza: a stone-baked, wood-fired sourdough base with just the right amount of charring on the crust; a rich, tomatoey sauce; and a generous quantity of toppings. You’ll certainly want to come back again and ask, “please, sir, I want some more”!

The Poorhouse, Great Ayton

Where can I find The Poorhouse?

Great Ayton is a lovely village situated just north of the North York Moors National Park and around 10 miles from the coast. Middlesbrough is a 20-minute drive away and Northallerton around 25 minutes. The Poorhouse is on the High Street, which has free roadside parking all the way along.



What’s on at The Poorhouse?

The Poorhouse hosts a diverse range of events throughout the year. There’s live music, wine tasting evenings and workshops including pottery and Christmas wreath-making. Occasionally the pizza menu is replaced with chilli or curry. Keep an eye on The Poorhouse’s Instagram and Facebook pages for updates.

The Poorhouse, Great Ayton

The Poorhouse, Great Ayton: Summary

-          Stone-baked, wood-fired sourdough pizzas on evenings

-          Cosy cafe during the day

-          Family-run, independent restaurant

-          Takeaway available (collection)

-          Beer, wine and spirits available

-          Dog-friendly

-          Outdoor seating

-          Relaxed atmosphere

-          Parking close by

-          Open fire

-          Historic building

-          Hosts events regularly

-          Booking recommended on evenings


Where can I find out more information, order or make a reservation?

For the latest opening times, menus and updates, follow The Poorhouse on Facebook and Instagram. Reservations can be made via Facebook or Instagram Messenger, or by telephone.



Have you tried the pizzas at The Poorhouse in Great Ayton? What did you think? We're always looking for recommendations for the best restaurants and pubs in North Yorkshire to review on our blog - tell us your favourites!

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