One of the best things about York for me was the food. The food was so good in fact that I decided it deserved a post all of its own.
Our very first meal in York was lunch at Grays Court. We were told that we would be guinea pigs for the new menu and try a bit of everything. I don’t think guinea pigs ever ate so well before. Fish cakes, chicken liver parfaits and tiny leek and fettle pies were laid out in abundance for us to try, along with your usual finger sandwiches, pots of tea, coffee and orange juice. The chicken liver parfaits were particularly good; rich, smooth cubes of pate topped with a whiskey butter and pink peppercorns. Fettle is a traditional Yorkshire cheese, and new to me; salty and slightly rubbery like a mild hallumi, it was perfectly pared with the leek. I was famished, and lunch was amazing, but it was necessary to show some restraint in anticipation of the next course.
Dessert included a chocolate platter, scones, jam and cream, strawberry tarts and fruit cake served traditionally with cheese. I loved all the traditional Yorkshire touches, like the pairing of cheese and cake, as the old Yorkshire saying goes cake without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze. York has a long history in the world of chocolate manufacturing, making it an appropriate focal piece for dessert. The chocolate platter included chocolate milkshake, ridiculously rich morsels of chocolate brownie, and things with nuts, fruit and honeycomb in them. At the time I remembered describing them as looking rather like they had gone wrong but tasting delicious. As dessert progressed I continued to literally loosen my belt and in the end we all gave in, and protested that we could not eat any more. Doggy bags were made and we continued to carry our left over pudding with us the rest of the day.
Our dinner that night was at the Golden Fleece, known as York’s most haunted pub. I had a a goat’s cheese and red onion tart with salad and chips. Nothing terribly complicated or fancy but it certainly hit the spot. I had ordered it as a starter sized dish, but what arrived was main course size, at no extra cost – mounds of chips with mayonnaise, a crisp salad and very a satisfactory tart. I don’t remember too much about the tart, except I felt that it was exactly was I needed at the time.
Breakfast at the Holiday Inn was without a doubt my favourite thing about staying at the Holiday Inn. There was your classic full English, your continental and your normal varieties of toast and cereal, plus fresh baked breads a wonderful thing called a pancake machine. You pressed a button and inside the machine two dollops of pancake batter plopped onto a heated conveyer belt, which they eventually slipped off onto your waiting plate. I adorned my pancakes with lashings of maple flavoured syrup (how it differs from the real deal I don’t know), berry compote, natural yoghurt, sliced almonds and dried fruit. Tea and coffee were both disappointing, but there was a good selection of fruit juices and smoothies.
Dinner was at Melton’s Too, a charming restaurant on Fossgate.
I had sea bream with mussels and a saffron sauce and we ordered a chicken and chorizo dish for the table, all well as a bottle of house white wine. The sea bream was melt in the mouth perfectly cooked, and the mussels were lovely. My own criticism is that the creamy saffron sauce was somewhat lacking in taste and wanted a little more seasoning. The chicken thighs were perfection, juicy, sweet and really tasty. Forget a dry, bland breast, a well cooked chicken thigh is food of the gods. It came with diddy little chorizo sausages
For dessert I ordered the sticky toffee pudding and we ordered a cheese plate to share. The sticky toffee pudding was perfectly indulgent, and went surprisingly well with the cheese. After eating about 60% of my pudding I sampled the cheese (all except the mandatory blue cheese which looks like something found behind the radiator, found on every cheese plate) and when I returned to the sticky toffee pudding I found its taste less sweet and more complex. After finishing my pudding I continued to work my way through cheese, crackers and chutney with a certain amount of determination, despite my stomach’s protests because it was just so good.
Lunch on the third day actually occurred on the train home. As food served on a moving vehicle goes it rated pretty highly.
I had a jacket potato with ratatouille, several cups of tea and coffee, a slice of cake, an apple and a bag of crisps. If I had preferred, however, I could have had a G&T or two and finger sandwiches, all part and package with traveling first class.
We traveled back from York First Class with East Coast Trains. East Coast operates 72 services each weekday between London King’s Cross and York. Customers traveling First Class can enjoy East Coast’s complimentary food and drinks offer plus Wi-Fi. Advanced return fares, booked online at www.eastcoast.co.uk: start from £26 Standard Class or £79 First Class. Times and fares can also be found via 08457 225225 or from any staffed stations.
All photos by me unless ‘claire’ is a the end of the title in which case they are by Claire Pursglove.