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Gary Marshall

Yorke Arms Ramsgill

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We awoke last saturday worse for wear, remembering once again that drinking with thirsty chefs post service is never a good idea when you've already had sufficient :wink:

Anyway wife to be (WTB) sarah had a great suggestion. Then suggested we go for lunch. Our usual port of call for a decent value saturday lunch would be meltons in york , however they had a set burgundy special lunch on that i didn't fancy, but on my list of places to try was the Yorke Arms, a quick phone call secured a table at the highly agreeable time of 1.45, time enough to wake and get from york to ramsgill, which is in the middle of no-where about 40 mins north of harrogate.

It was on my list following a very good write up from giles coren who, after a couple of days spent up north, seemed to have found some very accomplished cooking both here and also at the devonshire arms, just down the road. They also won a star too in the recent red book so in my usual michelin groupie fashion it was somewhere i had to try.

The place is a traditional free-house style on the village green and on entering i was pleased to see the bar had been retained, despite the fact they are essentially a restaurant, which avoided the pretentiousness some of these sort of places and a few farmery types hanging round the bar looking suspicously at the diners added to my enthusiasm for the place.

A pleasant greeting from the bar elicted a polite welcome into the dining room, a light airy room with old wooden floor and furniture mixed with expensive decor. we sat at a large table near the large fireplace, and all was well with the world.

one of the reasons wtb has reached this exalted status is her bizarre willingness to drive me home from meals on the basis i pay. eminently reasonable too, and also may have a lot to do with the fact i'm far less trouble when half cut/asleep :biggrin:

so whilst she tucked into her water i had a glass of champagne and checked the menus. on offer were a set lunch, a la carte and a 7 course tasting menu. I think you can guess where we're heading can't you?

On enquiring after the wine list (which was thorough and reasonably priced) i was offered a tasting menu with wines to match by the glass which i selected (£72, ex-wine £45).

amuse was mackerel on bruschetta, fine. But not a good indication of what was to come....

Course one: yorkshire potted beef, ham hock & foie gras terrine, asparagus veloute, beetroot relish. This was brilliant, aperfect terrine, not stiniting on the fg and immaculately presented on a glass plate, so much so i nipped out to the car and got the camera. Wine was a chateau dereszla, furmint, tokaji 2000 (£4.35 by itself)

Course two: lobster ravioli, confit fennel & tomato, shellfish broth. Although small, another cracker, more photos ensued, until the maitre d' very politely asked why i was taking photos, i replied probably a bit too quickly 'just for personal use' and he headed towards the kitchen, and of course came back and said 'chef owns the copyright they can't be reproduce would you mind not taking them?' . I thought about arguing, but was enjoying myself too much to kickup a fuss, but was concerned they might be taking themselves a bit too seriously, i did ask for a word with the chef afterwards though. Wine was a macon chardonnay, domaine talmard 2001 (£4.50).

course three: Roast turbot lemon relish, dauphinoise potao, celery, turnip & sweet corn chowder. Again great, the sauce was almost a beurre blanc and it was great. Wine pouilly fume domaine 'des berthieres' daganeau 2000 (£4.25)

course four: Nidderdale lamb pie faggots, braised lamb shank, horseradish lentils, boulangere pots, madeira sauce this was the best, one of the nicest courses i've had for a long time it wasn't a pie but just little piles of meat, if only i had a photo as i can't do the presentation justice :wink: worth coming for this dish alone. Wine academy label pinotage, stellenbosch 2000 £3.50.

Course five: Roast guinea fowl, foie gras tortellini, lamb sweetbread, morel sauce. How good was this? put is this way WTB used to have pet guinea fowl as a kid (don't ask, country folk) and wouldn't normally eat it, this time, devoured. Brilliant sauce too. Wine domaine de bachellery, merlot 2001 £2.50.

course six: Beignet of yorkshire blue cheese, beetroot sorbet. lawsons dry hills gewurztraminer 2001 £4.25, not a lot to add, deep fried cheese, but i didn't care as i was in foodie heaven by this point.

course seven: 'Plate of chocolate' was chocolate marquise if i'm not mistaken accompanied by a elysium black muscat, andrew quady, california 2000 £3.75.

coffee and petit fours were included and we took these in the lounge in front of the fire.

chef frances aitken joined us and i expalined the photo thing, it turned out it wasn't pretentiousness on her part, it was just they'd had professional photographs done before and she couldn't belive how hard it was to get a decent photo of a dish that looked perfect in the flesh, which was fine, and didn't want crap picture of her food in circulation (my interpretation not her words!) The presentation of the dishes was certainly a high point. We then had a long chat about all things foodie from michelin inspectors, egullet, other places we knew in france and england, and a text from bapi prompted a fat duck chat, especially interesting as heston blumenthal was customer of hers before he went cooking full time and she rates him very highly (i've you've read my fat duck post you can probably imagine what sort of conversation that was!).

As you might have gathered this place is well worth a visit, i could eat the menu again, no problem and given the fact i had no real expectations of what this place would be like i was very, very impressed, which made tom aikens job even harder on the following wednesday! I think the total bill including another pint of lager in the lounge, (i know i'm a peasant, but when thirsty and sat next to a bar i just can't fight it!) was £150 with service and worth every penny.

I've forgottent to mention they also have rooms and do a room, dinner brekkie for £100 per head which sounds good, frances also runs a cookery school in the kitchen and basically will teach you what you want to learn, pasta, sauces or fish for example.

gary

Ps they have a web site, i think its www.yorkearms.co .uk

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Damm you Marshall

I am trying to save some money so we can move and you keep tempting me with new places to try ! Great review and blimey what a menu.

Eight glasses of wine and a lager nightcap again !- You are indeed Satan.

Here is the web-site http://www.yorke-arms.co.uk/

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Gary- Make sure you and Sarah have fun at the Yorke Arms this weekend you sod !

Its not fair, I tell you, everyone is going away as some other friends are off to the Crown and Castle, Orford today as well - Bah Humbug. :raz:

Think of me dipping into my toad in the hole, whilst you are stuffing your facewith Nidderdale lamb faggots won't you ?

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Think of me dipping into my toad in the hole, whilst you are stuffing your facewith Nidderdale lamb faggots won't you ?

i will just not sure whether it''ll be at lunch or dinner!

i thought i might as well make the most of it!

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Remember to tell us about it afterwards!

And is it me, or have lobster ravioli, braised beef or lamb + faggots, and roast turbot (not to mention foie gras tortellini as a garnish), become ubiquitous for any multi-course haute dining experience?

It seems to me I keep coming across them as a group.


Edited by MobyP (log)

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I first visted the Yorke Arms in Ramsgill back in march, It had won its first star in January and was the subject of a great review by Giles Coren (as were all the restaurants he visited in the north: the devonshire arms, betty’s and room –leeds). So we went expecting a star at harome-esque quality gastropub, focussing on local produce etc, but were actually served food that would not have been out of place at two star winteringham fields or at least any london one star. So it was with great hope of another cracker we booked ourselves in for a gluttonous stay.

The restaurant really is in the middle of no-where, drive to harrogate, onto pateley bridge and keep going round the reservoir until you hit ramsgill. There’s no worry about not finding it, there’s ‘nowt else there! Current full time residents of Ramsgill number around 15 I’m told so to run a thriving business out here gives an indication of the quality of what’s on offer.

We arrived about 1.30 and thinking they’d be wanting our lunch order asap, said we’d dine straight away, but were offered the chance to check into our rooms and eat when ready, which makes a nice change from in ‘2 milliseconds time the kitchen closes and we only have crisps’ attitude which can be prevalent.

We did however take up their suggestion of a pre-lunch drink, to ease the strain of a 1.5 hour drive there, and took 2 glasses of champagne in front of the fire in the residents lounge. On our previous visit we were surprised (pleasantly) to find the full menu degustation available at lunch but this has now changed so there’s a 2 choice each course, 3 course set lunch for £18 and a list of specials.

After checking the evening menu to avoid the chance of duplication, we plumped for the set lunch. After some good amuses, I had a cep tart, sarah a soup (pumpkin) I think which were fine if unremarkable, which can’t be said of the bread which was outstanding, especially a cheese and sea salt, which we fought over. Mains were more memorable, mine was a perfect roast partridge, off the bone with confit’d legs, pommes anna (sliced, cooked in stock) bacon and a good red wine reduction, nothing fancy but well executed and presented with obvious care. Sarah’s curried monkfish and lobster was a lobster claw atop a curry dusted sizable chunk of monkfish with a light curry sauce and pillau rice, it was very good. We got stuck into a bottle of Gevrey Chambertin, domaine drouhin-laroze 98 with this for about £35. We also struggle to resist cheese and both received a small selection of 4 cheeses, just enough.

The original plan was lunch, then a walk then a full assault on the tasting menu, by the time we finished lunch it was looking a little dark and the thought of coffee in front of the fire with the papers sounded much better than pounding the muddy lanes. So we settled in and it is one of those places where you can feel quickly at home, once coffee was dispatched calva followed and a pleasant few hours ensued.

Soon it was time for dinner. We wandered back downstairs and although they had saved us a spot in the lounge, I was quite happy sat at the bar. Along with our kir royales they brought some potato gaufrettes and a chive-y mayo dip. We went for the tasting menu which is available with a glass of wine to match but as they were the same as we’d had on a previous visit we chose a 1999 st aubin 1 er cru ‘les frionnes’ domaine hubert lamy £35 and a 1996 beaune 1 er cru ‘Les Avaux’ by champy.

The dining room is almost medieval with its large stone fire places, creamy cloth walls and pewter ornaments, but its certainly a convivial room with mix-matched furniture of ‘character’.

I forget the amuse but remember it being very good and again we fought over the cheese bread!

1) YORKSHIRE POTTED BEEF, HAM HOCK & FOIE GRAS TERRINE asparagus veloute, beetroot relish. This is such a good dish, presented on a glass plate, just like in ‘that london’ it’s a slice of terrine with a good 2 inch diameter circle of Fg in the centre, in a shot glass is the veloute with 2 spears of asparagus and a quenelle of the relish. Well I could drink gallons of that veloute light and yet creamy and the terrine is absolutely textbook. From a textbook written by someone who really knows how to make terrines .

2) LOBSTER RAVIOLI confit of fennel & tomato, shellfish broth. Another cracker. The sauce just a great rich pinkly seafood sauce, frothed up and a generous ravioli atop the confit.

3) ROAST TURBOT brandade of smoked haddock, spinach tortellini and tomato butter sauce. The turbot was certainly not cooked ‘saignant’ variety but that was the only near flaw I could find in the meal. The brandade was a tiny quenelle on top of the fish and was a real taste highlight, again the sauce was great, not heavy but certainly containing its fair share of calories, this is not a place for the figure conscious!

4) CONFIT OF LAMB, HERB CRUSTED SADDLE, barley and potato risotto, roasted vegetables. On my last trip the standout dish was the lamb and this was no exception. The saddle was coated in a microscopically chopped herb mixture was perfectly rare and tender as butter, the confit was a little rectangle of the most unctous braised melty lamb as I have had, a truly ambrosial dish.

5) CHICKEN SAUSAGE ballottine of chicken, veal sweetbreads, morel & brandy sauce. You see by now in any other tasting menu you’d be expecting the cheese by now, but no, here comes another stunner, a slice of the ballottine, on top of the sweetbread with a boudin blanc too and a creamy morel sauce that made you want to lick the plate clean and ask for more.

6) BEIGNET OF YORKSHIRE BLUE CHEESE beetroot sorbet does what it says on the menu, just enough to give you a taste but not too much so you have room for….

7) PLATE OF CHOCOLATE which was a sort of 3 dimensional filled ‘apostrophe’ very nice, quite light and a great finish.

(oh, and that little lot was £49)

We again gave up the delights of the lounge for the sanctuary of the bar for coffee and for me to finish off the remaining wine. The chef Frances Atkins joined us and despite me promising not to take up hours of her time happily chatted about the food world until about 1.30am.

I love this place, the cooking is just up my street, rooted in classical french but with a northern english touch in the ingredients, a sort of haute cuisine comfort food. Was it better than my lunch at sketch earlier in the week? Well it might not be as inventive but in terms of enjoyment it was miles ahead, I could eat it every day, yet I’d say it’s not far off 2 star food and its unusual to find that combination.

Highly recommended.

Gary

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Great review, thanks. And blimey, that's the way to do it - come for lunch and stay for dinner. How did you feel the next day?

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gary, i salute you (and your tummy)

I understand its the size of a small South American country. :raz:

Great review

B

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Great review, thanks. And blimey, that's the way to do it - come for lunch and stay for dinner. How did you feel the next day?

i forgot to mention the cooked breakfast didn't i?!

well i didn't exactly leap out of bed but we did make it down for about 8.45am and there's the full selection available fruit cereals etc along with porridge and kippers (not together) and full english.

we were being figure conscience so only had the full english and toast.

how did we feel afterwards?

well we got home and did nothing, i later managed to find the energy to make some bread for another culinary highlight, beans on toast for tea!

gary

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Sunday turned out to be a day of blazing sunshine in Yorkshire and so we felt very smug about having concocted a plan of Sunday lunch gluttony followed by compensating walk / amble / pootle in the countryside. Turns out Ramsgill is only just over an hour's drive from Leeds - and through some glorious countryside as well - which makes me wonder why didn't I get here before? Also saw rather helpfully that it's very near the Sportsman Arms in Wath so that's gone on the to-do list as well.

Anyway, having followed the helpful directions to the pub, friend and I were perched in the sunshine at half twelve, with our Diet Coke and tonic water (driving you see, so no drinking this time) and perusing the menu of delights. It does seem unfair that one has to choose between honey quail on tabbouleh, or beef, chicken and foie gras terrine with asparagus veloute and beetroot relish, or millefeuille of crab salad and wild salmon, or seabass with risotto etc etc ... and the temptation to order EVERYTHING did almost overcome us.

So I feel we exercised commendable restraint by only having 3 courses each and then some coffee - which were the honey quail and crab as starters, roast beef with all the trimmings as mains, and then plum clafoutis with cardomam (spelling?) icecream and apricot tart with chocolate sorbet as dessert, and coffee with petit fours to finish.

Don't have time to go into massive detail this time - besides which I can sum it all by saying YUM and referrring to the well articulated opinions above and eslewhere. I would like to give special mention to the cardamon (spelling again) icecream - was absolutely delicious and was a real pity that my friend's spoon was so fast and that there wasn't more on the plate! In fact, this "project" of mine to try new restaurants may have to create a new subset of where is the best icecream - hmmm, maybe another thread? We paid £82 for lunch with soft drinks only - so wouldn't really break the bank either.

It is a beatiful setting with exquisite food - and the £100 offer for dinner, bed & breakfast seems like a fantastic deal on that basis. Service was efficient and friendly so big tick there as well. Am already considering when we can fit another visit in.

For reference - the website is here - just to tempt you a bit more.

Cheers

Yin

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typical, just back from france and am now having to think about how i can squeeze in another meal here!

glad you found it still on form, i've never been disappointed here, would prefer to see the tasting menu change a little more frequently but that nidderdale lamb 'pie' really is a stunner .

gary

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I'm going here next Sunday lunch with my girlfriend and her parents. Any of you northern lot been recently? Reports from a couple of years back sound fantastic. By the looks of the website, the menu is largely the same as it was then. I guess the lamb pie has to be my choice for main?

Unless, of course, her parents find the tasting menu too difficult to resist...

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bloody hell - is it really two years since I went?!?!

Sorry - no updates from me ... have been too busy eating at lots of other places but I imagine that it'll be splendid!

Hope you enjoy it - look forward to the report.

Yin

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we went last year and enjoyed it. The cooking is a long way from "cutting edge", but is skilful and uses excellent ingredients. She's an interesting woman to talk to and the wine list is well chosen and reasonably priced.

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never had a bad meal here, lovely place

just watch your directions, there's a crucial turn that's not very well signposted that sets you off around the reservoir that you need to find otherwise it's quite easy to get lost.

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I had dinner here a week and a half ago, as mentioned before, and I had a very pleasant meal indeed.

Canapes were excellent: waffle crisps with a avocado mousse (amazing flavour), parmesan and olive puff pastries, an outstanding spoon of celeriac and parmesan madeleine.

The amuse was, flavourwise, potentially my favourite thing of the night. A small cube of mackerel with confit lemon and broad beans. Very fresh and very light, but came together as a whole and packed a punch.

I had veal sweetbreads for starter, which were very tasty, coming with a truffle vinaigrette, celeriac dice and puff pastry. I really enjoyed this dish, and I preferred it to all the other starters I tasted. Isn't it nice when that happens?

For main I had the turbot with sesame crust, champagne sauce. This came with a scallop tortellini and a whole scallop, both of which were very tasty. Scallop only cooked on one side, and seared on the edges, so basically raw. I liked it. Not sure about the need for the sesame crust, but overall a good dish.

My dessert was fantastic again - salt caramel chocolate tart with chocolate fondant, caramel sauce and creme fraiche. I love salted caramel, and the tart really delivered. Superb pastry, and a very light compilation.

Petits fours were also excellent. All in all, a very very good meal, that hit high notes throughout.

I had only two reservations. First, the service was VERY quick. We had a 7.00 table, and we had ordered our desserts by 7.50. I felt very rushed. Second, I really didn't care for the restaurant manager. He was falsely enthusiastic in the way that only your granny would like, almost talking to us like children. "Wasn't the weather good today - gosh you must have worked up an appetite", he said with a permasmile. And he immediately recommended the trout starter and turbot main. I just have a problem with restaurants that do this, and always suspect that they need to get rid of their stocks. When I asked about the sweetbreads, he simply said "well if you like sweetbreads, you'll like this". After giving the full spiel on the trout competitor, I expected a little more information.

But these are minor points - the food was excellent, in a beautiful old pub, and I would definitely go back, next time I'm in this neck of the woods.

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Makes a change, usually my only complaint about the place is that service is far too slow.

Don't understand why The Yorke Arms doesn't make it into the Good Pub Guide, unlike the Sportsman's down the road.

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Makes a change, usually my only complaint about the place is that service is far too slow.

Don't understand why The Yorke Arms doesn't make it into the Good Pub Guide, unlike the Sportsman's down the road.

I agree - both are Inns with rooms- very strange.

An unexpected visit here yesterday. We had been heading to the Sportsman down the road, and with the squawking 19 month old in tow, we thought a formal meal might not be conducive to a relaxed afternoon.

However, we popped in a for a look and thought what the hell. They were very welcoming and offered a choice of a table in a snug or one on the patio by the paddock and stream at the back of the Inn. It’s a very handsome inn set by the village green and is easily reached by a lovely drive, past a reservoir en-route from Pateley Bridge. We let the little horror run around in the paddock whilst we enjoyed a drink of Champagne for her and water for me. Accompanied by some nice, small cheese scones which arrived and then some truly excellent bread- cheese, roasted flour (I think), white and granary which had shards of raisins embedded with it.

We started with an amuse of Vichyssoise, with pearls of caviar floating around within it. Nicely seasoned , good depth of flavour and a sensible option to serve during the current heat wave.

I chose a starter of Smoked Salmon, served with Whitby crab and pickled cucumber. Fresh, light and rich bound crab , was cut through by the delicately sharp cucumber. A nice dish. The missus went for a cheese soufflé, served unusually with scallops and a pea puree. She liked it and the little morsel of soufflé I was offered was very nice.

We both opted for squab for our main courses. These were beautifully cooked and served with some gnocchi- flavoured with rosemary, roasted butternut squash, sweet beetroot, and spinach. A really excellent dish of which I left nothing.

WE didn’t opt for dessert primarily because and here in lies my one criticism- service as Bertie indicated , was very slow. It took ten minutes for anyone to take our amuse glasses away, despite staff walking past out table umpteen times. There was another interminable wait before our main courses arrived which meant that with infant in tow a further wait, was not viable for us to enjoy desserts. A shame we very much enjoyed our food and look forward to going back. The rooms look wonderful now too as I know Gary was not thrilled with his a few years back - but it seems there has been a major refurbishment of the bedrooms since then. They are offering a combined dinner and stay over package on Saturday nights at the moment- which we are very tempted by- providing Granny can baby-sit. :smile:

With four glasses of wine and water the bill came to a not unreasonable £81.

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It seems that few on here visit the Yorke Arms given the infrequency of posts about it; additionally, this might reflect the fact that it's a schlepp to reach from virtually anywhere? Regardless, after finding myself with four spare hours in North Leeds on Saturday and embarking upon a mercy-dash over hill and dale for a quick lunch, I can only echo what's been said upthread. That is:

1) It's a beautiful, but long drive to get there across the moors on the roof of England, and then along some of the green dales between them.

2) It's a striking, stone-built building nested at the head of Nidderdale (with tractors rumbling past the windows).

3) The dining areas are grander and more sophisticated than the pubby name suggests, yet this place is simultaneously easy-going and accessible.

4) The food is also impressive. I started with a game terrine with foie, cherry and ginger brown bread (I think?): this was excellent. This was followed by venison with black-pudding, delicate fried onion rings, spring onion, fondant potatoes, and chanterelles. Again, very good and very welcome on a sunny but chilly winter's day. Finally, treacle tart with vanilla pannacotta, vanilla cream and vanilla ice cream - gorgeous. A splendid pot of tea in the lounge afterward wrapped this up nicely. And all good value at £25 (with reasonable prices on the wine too).

5) The service was a little slow, but when you've come this far, who's in a hurry (aside from me, on this occasion)?

6) This is an under-rated place - and I'll be back.

The only problem was that we were booked in for the Menu Surprise at Juniper just a few hours later... a schoolboy error tackling so much decent food in one day.

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worth visiting in the summer (should the sun appear), the garden is lovely, and the views while dining are worth that extra drive.

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Thinking of making a trip here next week. Before though, I have a couple of questions.

1) Is it worth making a four hour journey? Obviously I'd make a few days of it by staying in nearby Harrogate.

2) For anyone who has been to both, is it better than Northcote Manor. I could choose a visit to either, though I prefer the idea of spending a few days in Harrogate as opposed to Blackburn.

Any info, welcome!

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