The menu itself is a somewhat ‘safe’ affair, well, dull actually, but there’s no reason why if great produce is combined with a talented kitchen that a good meal shouldn’t grace the table. Holbeck Ghyll has held a Michelin star for over a decade and more recently shot to prominence through its inclusion in the TV series The Trip. Food orders are taken in the sitting room over an aperitif and some finger food including salmon mini fish fingers.
Before the starters arrive, a mushroom cappuccino is served which is nice enough with good flavour; sadly, it would prove to be the highlight of the meal.
There’s three of us dining tonight and with a choice of five starters and five mains, each of us choosing something different, we sampled 60% of the menu. Two of the five starters are ‘pressings’, one of Guinea Fowl, one of Ham Hock. The ham hock at least delivered some flavour while both were texturally mushy. The guinea fowl was deemed ‘absolutely awful’. The third starter was the honey glazed pork belly with langoustine: the pick of the bunch, this was adequate but not elevated. The two starters we didn’t partake of were: smoked salmon with pickled beetroot, and tuna with tomato, confit pepper, anchovy and quail egg.
The sea bass came with spiced cauliflower, braised gem, dill gnocchi and horseradish veloute (not pictured). The fish itself was perfectly cooked inside but the skin was soggy. The gnocchi was considered unpalatable, the cauliflower strange and the horseradish reminiscent of Colman’s. The final main dish was fillet of veal with butternut squash, broad beans and baby leeks, which did little more for the recipient than the other mains. We wonder about the baby leeks which are not in season from local providers.
Service varied. There were some genuinely good service moments, but as a venue, ‘serious’ appears to be a corporate identity and the service too often appeared constrained by this. Having the Michelin star has, in my reckoning, inhibited them from doing a more friendly though still professional service with them consciously opting it seems for a more formal approach.
By the reception in the hotel there’s a framed review of the restaurant by Matthew Fort but it is dated 2003 – a better time perhaps. We were unanimous around the table that not only did they fail to deliver a Michelin standard meal, but no single plate was at the requisite standard either in our opinion. This is a real shame because Holbeck Ghyll is a destination venue for tourists in the region, tourists who deserve better at any price, let alone pushing £100 a head all in.
Post script: the following day we were contacted by the restaurant with an apology regarding the rhubarb dessert and offered a refund. We appreciated this move on their part.
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