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Restaurant Review: The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn

Updated: Apr 9

Reputed culinary talent and the finest Yorkshire ingredients are a winning combination at The Sandpiper Inn in Leyburn.

The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn food: braised beef cheek

The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn

What to expect at The Sandpiper Inn

In the bustling Wensleydale town of Leyburn, just off the market square, stands The Sandpiper Inn: handsome, 17th-century rubble stone masonry donning an evergreen ivy shroud are the vision of the quintessential country pub. Inside, an inviting bar and woodburning stove are warmly welcoming in the front lounge. To the left, the spacious dining room with dark furniture, green walls and an exposed stone hearth inspire farmhouse kitchen vibes. A smaller dining area to the rear overlooks a lovely garden, and, for the complete Dales experience, two kingsize bedrooms, along with full Yorkshire breakfast, are available.

The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn

To Chef Patron Jonathan Harrison and his wife, Janine, The Sandpiper has been their business and family home for 25 years. Harrison brought with him an impressive CV, with highlights including winning the highly prestigious Roux Scholarship in 1993; working at the 3 Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse at Le Louis XV restaurant in Monaco; and preparing a banquet for the G8 heads of state in 1998. And the accolades didn’t stop there. The Sandpiper has earned an exemplary reputation for its food: it’s Michelin Guide recommended; was awarded the Yorkshire Life Dining Pub of the Year; and regularly ranks highly on distinguished ‘best-of’ lists including the Big 7 Travel’s Best Gastropubs in the UK, Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs and The Michelin Guide’s Best Pubs in Yorkshire. After eating there, it’s easy to understand why.

The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn food: creme brulee

What’s to eat at The Sandpiper Inn?

Harrison’s ethos is to use the finest Yorkshire ingredients and treat them with the utmost respect and technical skill. The outcome is a simply delicious celebration of Yorkshire on a plate. The menu is harmonious with the seasons and local availability. Our February visit saw woodpigeon, venison or duck choices that would delight game lovers; and a vegetable section comprising an array of hearty winter brassicas and roots. Expect classics done well – grilled fish with garlic prawns, fillet steak and chips, double baked cheese souffle – plus the odd Asian twist – tempura squid and sweet chilli sauce, or smoked salmon with kimchi mayo, for example. Be sure to leave room for dessert: these are a real treat! The latest menus are regularly uploaded to The Sandpiper’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

Black Sheep Best Bitter

What’s to drink at The Sandpiper Inn?

The Sandpiper Inn features in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide and offers ales and a cider from local breweries, (when we visited, these were Best Bitter, Respire Carbon Neutral IPA and Bobby Horn’s Easy Apple Cider, all from Black Sheep Brewery (Masham)), as well as premium lager (Estrella Damm). There’s also a well-chosen wine list and a good choice of spirits and soft drinks.

The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn food: woodpigeon and beetroot risotto

What did we have at The Sandpiper Inn?

We were greeted at The Sandpiper Inn by a warm fireplace and a jovial welcome. We ordered Black Sheep Best Bitter – always a firm favourite – and were seated in the quiet back room looking out onto the tranquil garden. Lovely.


To start, we chose pan-fried woodpigeon breast on a pearl barley and beetroot risotto, which was a veritable explosion of pink! Beetroot cubes folded through the nutty barley imparted earthy sweetness and a delightful shade of fuchsia. Lightly pickled beetroot carpaccio added piquancy and yet more vibrancy, and the plump, pink pigeon – gamey and succulent – was the star of the show. Pale white parmesan shavings were a contrasting colour and added salty seasoning.

The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn food: fishcakes

Next, a starter of Sandpiper fishcakes. These delicious, generous spheres contained a combination of haddock, smoked haddock, brill, cod and smoked salmon – all locally sourced – inside a pleasingly crispy breadcrumb coating. A simple green salad, garlicky aioli and a lemon wedge were the ideal accompaniments.

The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn food: venison and swede cannelloni

For main, more game: pan-seared loin of venison – perfectly pink and juicy – in a tasty Shiraz sauce. Two crumbed croquettes of peppery potato and haggis provided a crispy textural contrast; and the natural sweetness of winter vegetables was showcased by smooth swede puree, roasted baby carrots and a 'swede cannelloni': a delicate tube of thinly sliced swede containing a filling of well-seasoned, finely chopped root veg. We also had braised beef cheek (pictured above): slow-cooked, yielding and utterly divine. A panko-coated black pudding bonbon was crispy, flavourful and surprisingly light. Again, seasonal root vegetables were utilised as a vehicle for earthy sweetness, including a roasted onion of almost impossible tastiness. Classic, creamy Dauphinoise potato and a rich, savoury beef jus completed this excellent dish.

The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn food: chocolate mousse

For dessert we chose a creamy and velvety vanilla crème brulée (pictured above) served with a delightfully chewy ginger biscuit; and a rich chocolate mousse – dark and not overly sweet – with refreshing orange segments, zingy passion fruit and dainty meringue shards. A fantastic conclusion to a first-rate meal.

The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn garden

Where can I find The Sandpiper Inn?

The Sandpiper Inn is in the market town of Leyburn, Wensleydale. Leyburn is on the northern bank of the River Ure and sits just on the eastern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s around a  20-minute drive from Richmond and around half an hour from Northallerton or Ripon. There are parking spaces on the Market Place, some close to The Sandpiper, and Leyburn Long Stay Carpark is just behind the square. Leyburn is also accessible by bus from Northallerton and Richmond, or via train on the Wensleydale Railway, an authentic Heritage Railway running from Scrunton to Redmire.


The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn

The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn: Summary

-          Traditional country pub

-          Excellent-quality food

-          Local, seasonal ingredients

-          Michelin Guide recommended

-          CAMRA Good Beer Guide

-          Local beers and ales

-          Family run, independent restaurant

-          Outdoor seating

-          Dog-friendly in the bar area

-          Woodburning stove

-          Leyburn centre

-          Good transport links

-          Car parking close by

-          Rooms and breakfast available


Where can I find our more information or make a reservation?

Follow The Sandpiper Inn on Facebook, Instagram and their website to see the current opening hours and latest menus. You can make a reservation or booking via telephone.



Have you tried the fantastic food at The Sandpiper Inn in Leyburn? How was it? For more restaurant reviews from North Yorkshire, keep an eye on our blog!

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