Review of the Retreat Café and Tea Roomsin Grassington

by Angela Cunningham

We’re sitting in a sheltered, sunny courtyard, surrounded by planters spilling out a colourful display of flowers. We had arrived just as the last of the three outside tables became vacant and on this glorious summer’s day this is the perfect spot for a relaxing break in our walk. Either way, we would not have been disappointed as inside, the café has oodles of space and most of the tables are occupied by hungry walkers and shoppers enjoying what this interesting place has to offer.

But we aren’t here by chance, we’ve come specifically to suss out this vegetarian and vegan café – quite a find in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Dizzy Goddaughter (DG) was a little sceptical, until I pointed out that Sue Swinney (the cook and co-proprietor) has a Cordon Vert Diploma in Vegetarian cookery and she and her husband Ron moved up from Dagenham over a decade ago to run this very special place. Sue has built up an extensive menu of sandwiches, hot meals and cakes all following vegetarian or vegan principles and mostly gluten free and dairy free.

As we browse the menu I overhear a lady at the next table, sipping today’s special vegetable and fennel soup declare,

“This is very tasty” and her companion, tackling one of Sue’s signature hummus salad sandwichs counters,

“So is this, I do like a well packed sandwich.”

The day is far too warm for hot food so we discount things like chilli, Italian cheese lasagne, Brazil and mushroom pie and yummy sounding omelettes, though they all sound delicious, and turn to the sandwich selection, which is also offered with gluten free bread and dairy free spread. DG chooses Cheddar and chutney and mine is Wensleydale salad. Both come with a generous salad on the side and pretty bottles of oil and balsamic. The nutty wholemeal bread would be mouth-watering on its own and the cheeses are creamy and full bodied.

I ask Ron for more of his wonderful coffee (which is blended specially for The Retreat) and quiz him about the cake selection. A baker myself, I cannot believe these light and fluffy, deep and creamy cakes can be gluten and dairy free.

“Try this,” he says, handing me a deep slice of chocolate cake and two forks, “share it with your friend and see what you think.”

It is indeed delicious, probably the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted yet it contains no gluten, sugar, eggs or butter. Sue, who bakes everything herself from scratch, certainly has a magic formula! We lick our lips and lust for more, but don’t ask about the calories – after all, we have more walking to do.

Ron and Sue also offer a take-out service for picnics or those with no time to sit and watch the world go by, and are open every day except Wednesday, when they enjoy a very well earned break.

So a very belated welcome from DG and me to Ron and Sue, who braved the journey north to our beloved Yorkshire Dales and have certainly made their mark. Well done too for mastering the language!

Opening Times:

Every day except Wednesday 10.30am to 4.30pm


Coffee £1.90

Sandwich £3.80

Scone £2.00

Retreat Café and Tea Rooms

14-16 Main Street


BD23 5AA

01756 751887