Restaurant magazine and booking company Quandoo took a group of chefs and operators to the three restaurants in York that appear on the Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards top 100 list. The city’s food scene is in fine fettle, with a creativity and accessibility the common themes that links all three venues.
Skosh takes its name from the Japanese word ‘sukoshi’, which means ‘a small amount’. It’s a big clue to the style of food you can expect from the open kitchen, where chef-patron Neil Bentinck sends out a procession of small plates that deftly mix influences from Britain, Europe and Asia, especially Japan.
It’s an ambitious approach that has been gleefully embraced by locals and visitors, after rave reviews from national critics, helping to turn Micklegate into a food and drink hotspot in the walled city. The menu’s wandering spirit takes many unexpected twists and turns, the globetrotting flavours reflecting Bentinck’s own experiences. Born to an English mum and Indian dad, he spent time living and travelling in Asia and Australia, before returning to work in restaurants including The Pipe and Glass, Van Zellar, Northcote and The Star Inn at Harome.
On the menu:
Hens egg with cheddar
Oyster with granita
Cured sea trout
Roots is the city slicker equivalent to the country gent that is The Black Swan at Oldstead, chef Tommy Banks and family’s hugely popular North Yorkshire restaurant, and retains all the charm of its older sibling but in a more modern setting. Coming from a farming background, Banks has created a menu at Roots that uses an abundance of interesting produce. He and his team have identified three key British growing seasons, which they call the
Preservation Season, the Hunger Gap and the Time of Abundance, which the kitchen works around.
On the menu:
Rye bread cooked in beef fat, charcoal emulsion, wild garlic, capers and lardo
Lamb bao and fermented turnips
Raw deer, beetroot and shallots
Sea bass, strawberries and cream
Scallop, mussel and kelp broth with blackcurrant leaf vinegar
Raspberry and lovage lollipop
Fennel parfait, basil and blackberry
Le Cochon Aveugle
There’s no menu online at Le Cochon Aveugle. In fact there’s no peeking at the menu when you get there either because there isn’t one. Instead, chef-patron Josh Overington serves a four-or-eight-course ‘blind’ tasting menu (Cochon Aveugle is French for ‘blind pig’) with guests discovering what they are eating when the dishes arrive.
It’s a brave and slightly mischievous idea, which adds drama to the dining experience and allows the restaurant to adapt dishes to the seasons and which ingredients look good on a particular day. Overington’s cooking is grounded in classical French technique informed by his training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. The food is backed by an impressive wine list curated by the chef’s wife Victoria, which focuses on organic and natural wines.
On the menu:
Bodin noir macaron
Hand-dived Orkney scallop cooked ‘à la ficelle’ in sea urchin butter
Salt-aged Texal lamb rack, ratatouille and sauce navarin