I’m never one to turn down a big greasy burger or a pile of pie and mash after work, but this kind of indulgent dish that makes you want to hibernate, then diet for the next year, seems to dominate city centre restaurants these days.
Last night, to celebrate five years since we first met, we treated ourselves to something completely different – an eight course tasting menu at York’s Marmadukes Town House Hotel. The chef is Adam Jackson, who serves up a selection of complex, seasonal dishes that change every month or so, and with them he has recently been awarded a 3AA rosette by the AA Restaurant Guide.
Without wanting to sound over the top or tell you something you don’t already know given the 3AA hint above, it was immense. We got to try a velouté, I conquered my fear of mussels and just got to CHILL over amazing food for three hours. We felt like John and Gregg on Masterchef.
On arrival, we were shown to ‘the red room’, full of ornate old sofas, side tables and chandeliers, and served drinks from a selection of wines, spirits, classy cocktails and – if it’s your thing – a selection of more expensive rare wines. Each course on the menu has also been carefully matched to a wine, and these can be included with your meal for £48 per person.
We went for a modest beer and glass of wine, keen to save space for the main event – a feast featuring oriental nibbles, marmite butter, cookie crumb, and ‘hen of the wood’ to name just a few. They were all presented so beautifully that I can’t not include photos of each and every one:
Nibbles: one of the best miso soups we’ve ever tasted, along with tuna tartare and a lovely chicken bite with puffed rice
Lancashire Bomber – Marmite – Cucumber: A just-right warm cheesy bread roll with a fresh pickled cucumber and marmite butter. I’m not a massive cheese person, had never tried pickled cucumber and can’t say I crave Marmite, but this was delicious.
Pork – Hen of the Woods – Peas: This was one of my favourite dishes – tender pork ravioli with a gorgeous meaty sauce, the velouté, small but really great crispy croutons, and mushrooms.
Salmon – Asparagus – Mussels – Samphire: And this was Paul’s favourite. Beautifully cooked salmon with the best crispy skin, topped with what seemed like salty shoestring fries and resting on a bed of samphire, mussels and a delicate creamy sauce.
Beef – Provençal: This was a beautiful, lightly cooked cut of beef with an oxtail sauce and hints of flavours from the French region of Provence. Olives and baked tomatoes nestled among green beans and lovely squashy gnocchi rolled in parmesan.
Lemon – Mint – Blueberry: All I could say about this dish, after slowly weaving through the different elements, was that it was so interesting. Not at all in a sarcastic ‘interesting = weird’ way, but in a way that the chef combined so many different flavours and textures. There was a blueberry compote, chewy mini meringue, a sugared crispy mint leaf, a minty mousse, a sharp lemon custard and a citrus ice. It was great.
Chocolate – Beetroot – Hazelnut: I was looking forward to this *shock* The treat in the middle is a beetroot and chocolate sorbet on top of the richest dark chocolate cookie crumb. On top of the creme fraiche is a kind of beetroot crisp, which was sometimes crispy and occasionally chewy. The best bit for me was the crumb and the little hazelnut dots, which had a great smoky, almost burnt taste that added yet another element to the dish.
And finally, for Paul only, was a cheese course with crackers, truffle, almonds and the most amazing carrot cake. It’s inspired me to make some this weekend, although maybe I shouldn’t given the size of my stomach after all that.
The service and surroundings have to get a mention, too. Each course and every little detail was described by the restaurant team and we were given plenty of time to let each one settle (and/or undo our top buttons) before moving on to the next. I’d happily eat out less often to try more tasting menus like this.
We paid £60 each, plus drinks, and would highly recommend a trip. Find it at: Marmadukes Hotel, 4-5 St Peters Grove, Bootham, York YO30 6AQ.