We’re trying out Michelin stars, and first on our list was The Yorke Arms. A Valentine’s treat, no less.
It’s about time we featured one of Yorkshire’s great and good on this blog – that’s not to say we don’t talk about fantastic restaurants on here, because of course we do that already, but we’re glad to say we we’ve finally got to one which is much acclaimed and has the sought-after Michelin star.
My husband and I are foodies, and he was obsessed with the first series of The Trip (a BBC programme which saw Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan sample the delights of the North’s most prestigious restaurants). In fact, I’m not 100% sure that it wasn’t the show’s revelations that the North had so many amazing restaurants that made him push for our move to Yorkshire (back to Yorkshire for me) from the south just over three years ago.
It was a matter of time before hubby began using special occasions as excuses to get to The Trip-featured restaurants, and we’re making our way around them quite impressively. We have, however, never made it to the Michelin star varieties around Yorkshire. This Valentine’s Day was his chance.
And so, on the Friday lunchtime before the big V Day on Saturday (we’re parents of a toddler, so we’re now keeping Valentine’s reasonably practical), we headed up to the beautiful North Yorkshire, unfortunately in a cloud of fog. It was OK though, we’ve explored enough to know what the hills look like. The restaurant itself was the main event.
We pulled up to the beautiful, rustic and luxurious The Yorke Arms and immediately relaxed. There is just something about these places that make that happen. And what makes restaurants like these a cut above, apart from the food, has to be the ambience. It was quiet, it was relaxed, it was decadent, and I can’t really put my finger on why. The staff just know how to set the tone; friendly, relaxed and absolutely no sniff of snobbery. It’s a funny thing, and hubby and I often wonder how really really great places manage to achieve it.
After an ultra-relaxing glass of champagne in front of the fire in the lounge with some homemade crisps and cheese tartlets, arguing a bit over the correct spot at which Brydon and Coogan stood at the traditional bar, we chose from the lunch menu and headed into the dining room to take our seats at a window table.
What followed was special. Frances Atkins has created the most artistic food I’ve seen in a very long time (and it wasn’t so long ago that I ate at three Michelin-starred The Waterside). I don’t think I have ever looked at a plate of food for so long before tucking in, and struggled not to reach for my phone to take photos just so I could prove that. But no, some places and occasions must be respected. A special lunch with your loved one is a time to look each other in the eye, talk, appreciate the food, have a glass of wine and enjoy each others’ company. Phones are the things that are making those times become less and less, so this meal was strictly sans phone.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about the intricacies of the dishes, or I’ll lose you as they were quite complex. I will say they were fresh, inventive, colourful, beautiful, light and taste at its best. Just wonderful. If you can, and you’d like to treat yourself, go and see how they do it with a star in Nidderdale.
What we ate:
Starters – Shallot Tart, Escabeche Red Mullet; Truffled Quail, Marinated Raisin & Lemon
Mains – Saddle of Venison, Oxtail, Puffed Rice, Celery, Sloe & Cherry (x2)
Desserts: Cardamom Parsnip Delice, Malted Brûlée, Date & Banana; Bergamot Cream, Red Fruit, Almond & Cardamom
Lunch cost £40 per person, not including wine.