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Van Zeller - Harrogate

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I first heard of van zeller on a daily business email, the angle being chef tom van zeller returning to his roots after working in many starred places with backing from david moore of pied a terre and raymond blanc telly show fame.

it's based in harrogate and though not a million miles away from chez marshall, not somewhere i'd pass through without reason, and with prompting from the harrogate post i decided i had a reason to visit, and tried lunch today.

I'm not usually one for the set deals but £10 for 3 courses that on the website seemed quite interesting and i thought it worth a punt, and accompanied by some pub owning mates we hit the bright lights of genteel harrogate.

restaurant is a very nice space, mixture of banquettes and tables , holding 34, we had a nice corner spot with a good view of proceedings, and it was pleasing to see that their offer was being taken up by the good people of harrogate with about 12 in on a wet, miserable wednesday.

the waiter didn't seem too fazed by our request of both choices of each course from the set menu, ie 6 courses for £20, seemed a bargain tasting menu to me!

first course was a warm pheasant salad, a possibly confitted pheasant breast nicely cooked with a good layer of fat to lubricate it and crispy skin. it sat on some sauteed potatoes and some piquantly dressed salad leaves. good start.

next up was a beetroot and creme fraiche soup, it was a superb soup, lovely texture and depth of flavour and a shiny bright red colour, very good indeed.

first main was some seared sea bream with a ragout of chard, a good sized well cooked fillet of bream arrived with some batons of chard and a little beurre blanc-esque sauce.

confit gressingham duck leg was next on a bed of pomme puree with a red wine reduction. this was a decent size portion and like the pheasant, exhibited the same good cooking technique, again very good.

cheese was offered at a supplement but in keeping with our bargainous state, and satiated appetites we just had the 2 desserts!

first was an iced mango parfait, good texture and flavour and a good refresher after our quite heavy lunch.

last course was an apricot clafoutis again decent, well cooked, with a quenelle of cream.

with a beer, a bottle of £19 NZ pinot and 2 large espressos the bill was £90 for 3!

tom came out to say hello and see if we wanted anything else, he retired to the kitchen happy that everything to us was spot on and they had beaten us on the food front!

the set meal offer is on quite a lot including early evenings so there's plenty of opportunity to try it and at those prices it really is a steal.

the a la carte looks interesting and is seriously priced with mains around £20 -£25 but given the skills on show in the set lunch, it would seem a good bet to me that they would deliver the requisite bang for the bucks asked.

The wine list is another good piece of work, wines are from enotria and there's a decent selection including some wines very much off the beaten path and wines by the glass are offered in 125, 175, and 250 which as i was driving today i thought was a good touch.

The room was efficiently run by the FOH staff and my only quibble was that the espresso seemed a bit watery, i think it was a shot topped up with water, not 2 shots, a minor fault in an otherwise faultless meal regardless of price, and a bloody bargain at £10 (or £20 if you're greedy) certainly blows abode's set lunch out of the water.

you don't win friends with salad

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  • 2 years later...



I wanted to try this place out as soon as I read Gary's review but its a real schlep up and over the Pennines so I had to wait a bit.

I saw a couple of photos of his food on someones twitter page and because we had cancelled a weekend trip down the shmoke I decided this trip oop north was justified.

We were not disappointed, we enjoyed Tom's food and it looks a picture on the plate so I took a number of photos to share. I just need a bit of time to organize them.

Harrogate btw is well worthy of a visit in its own right. I had forgotten how beautiful it is.

We nearly did not make it though. About ten miles into the journey a Citroen C4 decided it would like to travel inside our vehicle along with us. Thank the Lord we were in the Chelsea tractor or we would have ended our journey on a low loader.

Thank you Land Rover for building such a sturdy vehicle, no whiplash, no airbags deployed, and mercifully very minor damage,(unlike the Citroen) so we were able to make our lunch date a bit shaken, but in one piece.

Report to follow.

Anybody else been?


"So many places, so little time"



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Used to go to Harrogate fairly often and always found the eating a bit disappointing. There was (is?) one of those Hotel du Vin places that wasnt bad. And, IIRC, a decent seafood place.

Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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The seafood place would no doubt have been the drum & monkey. been there years but had a change of ownership and overhaul by local entrepreneur Jan Fletcher.

I'm working in Harrogate so be interested to read the report David, i did stop to look at the menus the other week but they were not complete in the window, and they were closed.

you don't win friends with salad

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Some of you may remember the BBC show The Restaurant, in which Raymond Blanc, David Moore, and Sarah Willingham put nine couples through their paces, with the winner given the opportunity to go into business with Monsieur Blanc.

Well, David Moore is a very successful restaurateur with two Michelin starred restaurants of his own. Pied a Terre and L'Autre Pied. So he knows quite a bit about the business, and indeed the Michelin workings. So what's the link? Well all that I could gleen was off the back of the menu, "has the backing of David Moore".

In actual fact Mr Moore is new to networking site twitter and was intrumental in us dining here. You see he posted some pics of his recent visit on his page and they reignited my desire to eat here. So yes industry folks, it does pay to market your wares on twitter.

So, the beautiful Harrogate, and down a quiet side street Van Zeller.

As can be seen from the photos, its small but perfectly formed. We think the best seats are in the window and this is where we sat.

The menu's are appealing. A 7 course tasting at £55. A 7 course vegetarian for a bargainous £39.50. The three course carte at £39.50, although this does include an amuse and a pre dessert. Then at lunch they have a " 5 for £25 " which is what Mr Moore ate from and this was also our choice.

Bread was decent, white or granary, and arrived at the table warm.


An amuse bouche came shortly after, Asparagus mousse with parsley root.


The lunch menu has a choice of three, three, three, but the cheese course attracts a supplement of £9.50.

There are a few supplements on the carte but I'm bemused as to why the "Yorkshire Lamb" would attract an extra £5.

Broad Bean Gazpacho, Goats curd was one of the twitter shots that I had seen so it had to be tried.


Pretty as a picture presentation wise, and pretty decent flavour for a cold soup on a not so summery day. The smoked rapeseed oil, mixed herbs and the crunchy flaked almonds all added to the value. What you cannot see is some little pools of Kalamata olive paste which were also in the dish.

Across the table, was the very appealing Pork and Rabbit rillettes.



The slash on the plate is Agen prune puree. My wife objects to barley if I suggest it in any meal at home, but the barley and apple vinaigrette disappeared from the plate rather quickly. We both liked this.

The Yorkshire Lamb on the lunch menu was not a prime cut, far from it. Lamb belly from my limited experience is hard to work with, but its dirt cheap. In fact its so cheap a cut, that if you pull a face at your butcher, he will probably throw this at you. My wife knew it would be very fatty so chose the fish option, which she very rarely does.



I'm not going to nit pick over the fattyness, I knew what I was getting, and to put it simply, the dish was great, and we all know what fat means, fl----r.

Essense of Lamb, with a wonderful rich reduction gave it the intensity that I desired. The belly fat had turned to jelly by very slow cooking (braising) then finishing it off in the pan. And yes I ate the lot, but I'm not at all sqeamish.

Also on the plate btw is. Creamy polenta with what I though to be dill running through it. Spring cabbage and onions, and radishes. Oh, and I'm sure there is some quinoa riding on top of the lamb disc, to give the sauce a bit of texture.

The Brill from Brixham Market was much enjoyed also. Brandade, Piquillo peppers, chickpeas, kale and white onion puree and quite a decent hunk of fish.



So far, if this is the standard of cooking here. We think it to be very good.

We took an extra dish off the mains, and one that I had seen on David Moores twitter. So it had to be tried out. Tarragon Gnocchi Heirloom carrots, wild garlic, butterbeans, watercress cream.

I'll tell you what. If I was a vegetarian eating here I would be very pleased indeed. This plate of food delivered on all fronts.


Visually appealing, great textures, almost a "meatiness" about the texture of the gnocci. Bags of flavour throughout the plate

Just a very good dish.

Desserts to finish off did not disappoint. We had one of each, and really did not fancy the cheese course.

First though the dinky little pre dessert, Bay leaf custard with an orange granita.



Ever the gent, I gave my wife the choice of dessert knowing that there was not a cat in hells chance of her choosing rhubarb (one of the choices)

Star anise and Vanilla panacotta parkin, melon and mint.


Yep, simple but effective. We both love panacotta. This wobbly little beast slipped down a treat.

Rhubarb is on all the menus up and down the country, and so it should be, its bang in season. On the drive here I saw a lady picking some from what looked like a very decent harvest. And of course we are in Yorkshire so this offering is perhaps from just down the road from here.

Lime yogurt, Yorkshire rhubarb, granola.


Again whats not to like, especially if you have a sweet tooth and like rhubarb as much as I do. I liked the addition of granola, for its crunch and fruity distraction. So much so that I will use it next time that I make a dessert.

So thats it really. Some very good cooking using in the main fairly cheap ingredients. Nothing wrong in that on a lunch menu, but I do object to it a bit on an a la carte though.

I really do think though that extracting loads of flavour from cheap cuts sorts the cheffy men from the boys, and there was certainly bags of flavour in these dishes.

We both enjoyed the whole experience here, the service was good, the food was most enjoyable, I think Harrogate has a lot to shout about with a chef this good in residence.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Van Zeller. In fact if we lived within a decent distance we would have eaten the tasting and the carte by now.

Getting back to David Moore.

He already has two michelin starred restaurants under his belt. I wonder how he feels given that the Michelin guide have not yet promoted Tom?

Time will tell perhaps, but to my mind Tom van Zeller on this showing (and off the set lunch menu) is a very good chef indeed, and I would like to eat more of his food.

"So many places, so little time"



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