The Refectory Kitchen and Terrace is a fabulous addition to the newly refurbished Royal York Hotel. London restaurateur Des McDonald has been working with executive chef Nick Evans on this exciting new luxury restaurant adjacent to the railway station. Their ethos is to provide seasonal dishes from the world class quality of ingredients found across Yorkshire.
The restaurant is situated in a large extension designed by award winning architects Michaelis Boyd, who have incorporated the Grade II listed Victorian brickwork with contemporary glass and industrial looking black metalwork pipes. I loved the black pulley light fittings with bottle shades. The spacious, welcoming dining room exudes quality. A delightful sunken outside seating area offers a discreet distance from the restaurant to the railway station.
As a coeliac, I am always nervous eating out anywhere new. My nerves were immediately allayed as the friendly waiting staff carefully explained the menu and assured me if I was remotely concerned, the chef would come out of the kitchen to give more detail. David, our waiter, was excellent - his knowledge of all aspects of the menu was extremely professional and reassuring. He was relaxed and friendly - nothing was too much trouble.
Now for the food: after much agonising over what to choose, we both decided on a different starter from the exciting a la carte menu. I went for Yorkshire Moors smoked wood pigeon, horn of plenty mushroom on freshly made sour dough (or gluten free alternative). The tender, subtly smoked pigeon melted in the mouth; the garlic butter mushrooms and sweet jam spread on toast was a divine combination. My dining partner opted for hand-picked Whitby crab, mayonnaise and sieved egg along with some finely cut and extremely crunchy melba toast. It was fresh, sweet and well seasoned: delicious.
For my main course I chose Anglesey sea bass, blueshell mussels and sea vegetables in an exquisite creamy sauce with wilted greens and garlic on the side. Again, a perfectly balanced dish: the sea bass had a golden crunchy skin on the top with mouth-wateringly fresh fish beneath. My partner opted for Josper grilled Buccleuch rib-eye, bèarnaise sauce, french fries and winter leaves vinaigrette. This was an excellent choice, beautifully seasoned and cooked to perfection - a perfect plate of food.
For pudding we both went for the opulent dark chocolate and salted caramel pot with a hazelnut biscuit (my lucky partner enjoyed two of these delicate biscuits!); served in a teacup on a saucer it was beautifully presented and tasted as good as it sounds, rich and delicious.
After such a feast we were both absolutely full to the brim. The generous Yorkshire portions are certainly excellent value.
The extensive wine list has something for every taste and occasion. It was also great to see York Brewery ales and the Yorkshire Cider Company on the menu.
As well as the exciting a la carte menu, The Refectory Kitchen and Terrace also offer a two or three course set menu for £16 or £21 served from 12 noon - 7.30 daily. This restaurant offers an unmissable fine dining experience in York. I will be back soon.