Sunday Dinner at The Refectory

A wise person once told me that Sundays are for relaxing and eating lovely food. While I am very much inclined to agree, that is what we SHOULD make time for its safe to say life can often get in the way of this at times. For me its having a busy job, running this blog on the side of that, looking after 2 bunnies, being in a play, doing up the house etc. etc. Life can be busy and its easy to forget that mealtimes should be leisurely and help you unwind from the week. So, in addition to inviting me for lunch I’d like to thank the staff at the Refectory in the Royal York Hotel for reminding me how chilled out a Sunday lunchtime can be.

The Royal York Hotel (I think) has recently changed hands and has such elegant interiors combining traditional elements of the architecture with a modern feel throughout. (I’m no design student but my friend Mrs E and I both liked what we saw). The refectory itself was pretty trendy and modern – sort of a conservatory with a Scandinavian vibe. Pretty perfect for weekends in York as it is close to the city centre but with a genuine feel of modern Yorkshire that I think a lot of people will enjoy.

We were made to feel so welcome by the restaurant staff and they all seemed pretty knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the food they were serving. The food is locally sourced which I am very much in favour of, especially given the amazing quality of the local produce in this region.

Also I was pretty impressed that Mrs E tried the piccalilli made on the premises (she is not usually one for condiments!) so this must have been pretty special. To start with Mrs E had the pressed ham hock – with the aforementioned piccalilli and mustard monkey bread. The ham hock and piccalilli went perfectly together and was beautifully presented. I had calamari, a rare treat for me as D is not a fan of squid. The squid was cooked to perfection and was incredibly tender.

For the main course I had roast of the day which was beef and Yorkshire pudding. I was impressed that I was asked how I would like my beef as I know preferences vary on this. I had mine rare and it was beautifully cooked (also I particularly enjoyed a roast dinner I had not had to cook myself). Mrs E enjoyed her confit duck leg (the chef’s special) which seemed to fall off the bone.

We decided to push the coat out and have a dessert each (something pretty rare for either of us these days). I had a Yorkshire cheese board – 3 kinds of cheese which I believe makes it a gentleman’s cheeseboard. I love cheese boards for having my own personal one was pretty cool. Mrs E had strawberry sorbet which looked fresh and inviting and I think a great palate cleanser after the duck.

We sat and relaxed in the light airy restaurant and finished our wine (we had Sauvignon Blanc) and then walked around York to digest our lunch.

All in all a pretty great Sunday lunchtime don’t you think?

We both really enjoyed our food and we were genuinely touched by the attention of the staff. Thank you for inviting us! The Refectory is a great venue with some wonderful food – I think this was reflected in that we could see family groups of different sizes, friends on days out like us and a few couples. I would really recommend this place to anyone visiting York and will definitely be coming back.

For more information about The Refectory including booking details click here. Click here for information on the Royal York hotel including booking details, how to get there and hotel facilities.

I was invited to review the Sunday Lunch at the Royal York Hotel but all opinions and enthusiasm is my own.

If you’re in the area visit Jervaulx Abbey Tea Rooms

IMG_0613Over the bank holiday my parents and I took a trip to visit my Grandma F. My Grandmother is one of the people who I inherited a love of baking and food from (along with my parents and my Grandma P). She also shares my appreciation for a really good place to drink tea or coffee and eat sandwiches and cake. So a trip to Jervaulx Abbey Tea Rooms was suggested. Jervaulx Abbey is a 12th Century Abbey in East Witton, a village near Ripon. The Abbey and Tea Rooms are owned by the same family and there is a farm shop based on the tea rooms premises. Most of the produce is made on the premises or locally sourced; my mum heard one of girls working in the tea rooms tell another customer that her father grows the raspberries and spends time putting them into stuff made for the cafe or farm shop.

Anyway, the tea rooms are peaceful, my grandma uses a hearing aid and its sometimes a struggle for her to hear when there is a lot of background noise, so it was nice not worrying that she couldn’t hear what we were saying. The food is decent here, I had the loveliest ploughman’s lunch made with locally made Wensleydale, ham and pickles. Everything had a relaxed feel and the Yorkshire Dales provided the perfect backdrop to it all (although to be fair the Dales are so beautiful they provide a pretty amazing backdrop to most things).

To summarise, the Jervaulx Abbey Tea Rooms are the perfect place for lunch, coffee and cake or afternoon tea if you happen to be the slightest bit peckish and in the area. I also managed to get a picture of what the Abbey would have looked like in its prime. Next time I’ll have to get a proper look around the Abbey (which is possibly just an excuse to go back for cake next time!)

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Grillshack, Soho

Sometimes you have a perfect weekend away planned with guidebooks scoured, itineraries mapped out and places to eat set in stone. Well, maybe, D and I tend to google places to go with a vague notion of how to get there. We planned a weekend visit to London at the beginning of the month which would end with us travelling to Norwich to watch D’s best friend from university get married. Unfortunately the night before we left we got burgled which was the most stressful situation which could happen without either of us sustaining any sort of injury. Seriously guys; lock your doors, the feeling of having someone rifling through your stuff while you sleep is the worst and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Anyway, this led to arriving in London exhausted and pretty stressed.

Now, before I make everyone too miserable the ending of this story is far happier than you would expect. It includes magic burgers. Seriously; possibly the best burgers, made all the better by us stumbling into the restaurant by chance. The menu at Grillshack isn’t extensive by any means but I am starting to realise that often a shorter menu means that everything on it is cooked really well and the staff really know what they are serving. The restaurant is simply furnished and it the staff were friendly and welcoming, asking us how we were enjoying our food without pressing us too much – sometimes you can eat somewhere and feel like you’re being interrogated.

We shared some buttermilk chicken nuggets to start. Basically chicken nuggets for adults in the best possible sense. Tender tasty chicken with chipotle mayonnaise.

nuggetsTo follow we both had burgers. I had a blue cheese burger while D had normal cheese. The meat was perfectly cooked, just pink enough in the middle and we both agreed the burgers were made from good quality meat. Wonderfully simple and cooked with a great deal of care.

burgers x 2burgersOur true “Northerness” shone through though as we got the bill and both commented how reasonably priced everything was for London. So I think we probably belong in Yorkshire. Anyway to summarise we had a lovely meal out after one of the most disappointing starts to a weekend away. As soon as we arrived at Grillshack we were made to feel welcome and we left feeling much better and more relaxed. Then we went to play with the toys in Hamleys. As you do.

For more information about Grillshack in Soho visit their website or twitter page.

La Oliva – Harrogate

Living with a Spaniard has its perks. For one thing I don’t think I’ve ever eaten such wonderful chorizo in my life and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten such beautiful guacamole (she’s also half Mexican). However, knowing where to go for delicious tapas is certainly up there with other reasons why I adore living with A.

Now, it is with deep regret that I write that A was actually in Spain when I organised a girls trip to La Oliva in Harrogate. However, a night of gossiping, trying different dishes and most importantly for a Friday night, drinking wine.

La Oliva is a pretty new kid on the block when it comes to restaurants in Harrogate, only being a month old. However, the food, staff and restaurant atmosphere were all lovely. Considering there were 10 of us dining we were all really well looked after and the dining atmosphere was very relaxed as tapas should be.

Anyway, here is an assortment of pictures I took on the night:

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My bouche it was amused

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Jamon, hurry up

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Bravo patatas bravas

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Don’t clam up on me now baby!

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You’re my lobster

Now on the whole I found the food to be excellent. I wasn’t struck on the lobster ravioli sauce but the wonderful pigs cheeks more than made up for this. My favourite has to have been the Iberian ham, I could have just sat eating ham all night to be honest. Now as a greedy omnivore I found plenty of things on the menu I was dying to try, however as the menu is particularly Spanish, if you aren’t big on red meat and fish (or follow a vegetarian diet) you might struggle to find something on the menu that you fancy.

The staff are all really knowledgable about their food and wine and recommended us some lovely things.

La Oliva is really well worth a visit, especially if you’re in a bigger group. Tapas is always more fun with a larger number.

Definitely book before coming here at the weekend. I have a feeling this restaurant is going to become popular. Find out more on their website.

Baltzersens, Harrogate

Sometimes you find a little place that you adore so much you almost don’t want to tell people about because you love it that much you want to keep it to yourself so that you can still get a seat without waiting too long or your favourite cake running out. Well for me Baltzersens is that place, great atmosphere, fantastic cake and good coffee. I mean, I’m fully aware that I am no expert when it comes to coffee but I know what I like and I like Baltzersens coffee. I am always walk past this coffee shop staring at the cakes like a cat stares at birds in the garden. This place is Scandinavian influenced and uses local produce and I simply love visiting.

Anyway, when Miss B came to visit me I knew as a coffee lover she would appreciate a trip to Baltzersens. We had coffee and cake (well I had waffles and coffee) and it was simply glorious. The staff here are always friendly and helpful and I really like that fact that there is a wide selection of cakes including gluten free options that look as wonderful as everything else.

Here’s what we ate and drank:

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Chocolate and cherry slice

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Waffle with cream and Nutella

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It’s just as well I’ve taken up spinning again, eh?

If you’re in the area Baltersens is well worth a visit. It does tend to get busy but I’ve never seen anybody wait too long to get served.

You can find out more here.

 

Tweet for a table hosted by the Co-operative @Tweet4atable

At the beginning of October the day following the Cosmopolitan blog awards I was lucky enough to get a table at the Co-operative’s Tweet 4 a table. The concept is simple; you tweet @Tweet4atable with the number of people and the time you wish to attend. You get sent a unique code. When your food arrives you have 30 minutes to dine on a free meal made of the Co-operative products. There have been a number of Tweet 4 a Table locations including Manchester, London and Leeds. As I was already in London for the blog awards with my parents I decided to pop down for a spot of lunch. Knowing that my friend Farny is never one to pass on a free meal (or in fact any free food) I invited him to join us.

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You can rely on Farny to make use of props

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Mumsy joining in

Available drinks included raspberry juice (which I opted for after a night of cocktails), cider, elderflower juice and Prosecco.

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For lunch we were served a variety of cooked meats and deli items. My favourite kind of lunch.

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The food was delicious (as I ought to know, I had a summer job working for them). I particularly liked the cured meats and olives. Unfortunately I couldn’t actually finish my portion. However, Farny was on hand to “tidy up” what was left. He also “tidied up” some of my parent’s board too!

I absolutely recommend that if Tweet 4 a table is in your area you check it out. The food is fantastic and really shows off what the Co-op has to offer. The other great thing about the Co-op as a company is that they have always been frontrunner when it comes to ethical trading and sustainability. If you’re concerned about Fair Trade products or animal products being at a high welfare standard the Co-op might just be the supermarket (or local convenience store) for you.

On a less serious note Farny was more than a bit delighted with his free cheesecake vouchers (mum gave him two; the guy has hollow legs!)

You can find out more about Tweet for a table and the latest restaurant pop ups on their Twitter Feed.

Drum and Monkey, Harrogate

I was lucky enough to be treated to a meal at Drum and Monkey, Harrogate when my family were visiting earlier in the month. I absolutely adored Drum and Monkey last time I visited and I was excited to visit the place again. Drum and Monkey is a popular seafood restaurant in the Montpellier Quarter of Harrogate. The interior and exterior of the place remind me very much of traditional restaurants like you’d see in films and I really hope it doesn’t change under new ownership (part of the enjoyment I get from eating in lovely restaurants is taking in my surroundings).

When we visited it was at the start of the heatwave and I had spent the day at the Yorkshire Show in the heat so I wanted to keep my meal light. I basically just photographed my own meal as I didn’t want everybody’s food to get cold!

To start with I had queen scallops with garlic butter and Gruyère. This was absolutely fabulous. The scallops were perfectly tender and the cheese and garlic butter flavours complimented the scallops perfectly. I could have eaten a small mountain of this!

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To follow I had a cold seafood platter which included tuna, langoustines, razor clams, smoked salmon, crab claws and lots and lots of different types of prawns. This was amazingly fresh and light. My dad had the same thing as me and he remarked that it was the first time he’d had a razor clam that wasn’t chewy. I agree that everything was perfectly cooked. I also was pleasantly surprised at how much crab meat you can get from one claw! This was such a perfect summer dish, so light and refreshing.

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If you’re visiting Harrogate and want a seafood restaurant to visit, or you live in Harrogate and want to go somewhere special for a meal, you can’t go wrong with Drum and Monkey.

The Drum and Monkey website is currently under construction but you can also visit their Facebook page.