FINE DINING IN YORK
The play ‘The Secret Garden’ was playing at York Theatre Royal when we visited Arras and the title of that play The Secret Garden are an apt description of the location and surroundings of Arras.
Only 10 minutes walk away from the tourist area around the Shambles , when you arrive at Arras, set in old coaching house buildings owned by York Conservation Trust, you’ll find a haven of peace and tranquillity far from the maddening crowds so to speak.
This fine dining restaurant is owned and run by Adam and Lovaine Humphrey who have a sparkling career in the restaurant and food industry behind them.
We decided to have our pre-lunch drink outside on the patio, having walked from the centre of York, which was heaving with visitors, to chill out. It was so relaxing looking over the old English style garden and letting the rest of the world go by. This place is so private.
Inside Arras has a white rather clinical atmosphere but thankfully it’s relieved by pieces of bright art and lots light and has some of the most comfortable seats this restaurant reviewer has ever sat on.
The Daily (lunch) and carte (dinner) menus offer an accessible approach to fine dining priced for two or three courses rather than individual dishes. However, wine prices are expensive with few bottles under the £25 price tag.
As soon as we sat down at our table we were welcomed with some of their delicious artisan Soya and Linseed bread which was warm and simply delicious.
The lunch menu had three courses and for each course there was a choice of three dishes.
For starters I chose the Panzanella Salad, which consisted of roast onion, marinated tomato and mozzarella. The fusion of flavours blended well but I found the marinated tomato a little sharp for my taste.
My colleague chose the slow cooked duck, caramelised turnip and cherries. The baby turnips were very tender and the duck and cherry made a wonderful contrast in taste and as with all dishes at Arras presentation was everything.
Confit of pork belly was my choice for main course. Pork Belly was much maligned and ignored by foodies as it’s one of the cheapest cuts until some top chef, a couple of years ago, discovered how tender and tasty it was and hey presto it became one of the most fashionable pork dishes.
The meat was soft and tender and cooked to perfection and the crackling was smooth and cutable. Pieces of roast apple patterned the plate and the crab and hazelnut sauce was delicious taking away any fatty taste from the meat it was more than tasty.
My colleague was over the moon with her vegetable lasagne with crispy edges. Inside the layers were onions, dried tomatoes, courgettes, cauliflower and potato bechamel – it’s not overly spiced and my colleague was anxious to know how the pasta base kept its crispness right to the last mouthful.
Pudding time at Arras is sheer decadence. My friend’s choice of summer pudding with eggy bread was a work of art. The bread was warm and soaked with juice and laced with blackberries and came with summer fruit sorbet, berry compote and miniscule meringues.
Lemon and Raspberry Sable was my downfall. So delicious and beautifully presented I just wanted to look at it all afternoon. The tart of the lemon curd was taken away by a raspberry jelly on a light crispy shortbread base.
But the totally amazing part for me was when the coffee and the Arras petit fours arrived. These are simply amazing with tastes of the past and childhood. The big orange tray will take your breath away with a vast array of homemade treats including mini ice cream cones, sherbet dip lollies, jammy dodgers, chocolates, fudges and even fizzy jellies. A fitting finale to your meal, these are more than heaven on a plate! Whatever you do leave room for these show-stopping treats when you visit.
Arras provides a wonderful dining experience in a really friendly and chilled atmosphere. Adam and Lovaine have only been in residence since last year but already they are starting to make their well deserved mark on the city’s food scene.
Arras, The Old Coach House, Peasholme Green York. YO1 7PW.
Tel: 01904 633 737 – www.arrasrestaurant.co.uk. Check website for opening times.