This weekend found myself and the husband reach our 5th wedding anniversary, so in order to celebrate not having killed one another just yet, we decided to treat ourselves with a trip over to Harrogate and dine at Van Zeller.
I’d heard about Van Zeller through various write ups in the press and also via Steph from The Food I Eat – all very positive and we couldn’t wait to go.
The restaurant is tucked away on Montpellier Road, not too far away from one of our favourite pubs, the Old Bell, Van Zeller itself is a small, intimate restaurant. The interior was crisp, clean and classical with modern touches. As I sat down I couldn’t help but notice the shelves brimming with awards – would the food live up to these? We couldn’t wait to see the delicious treats on offer! We chose to dine from the a la carte menu, the other option being the 7 course tasting menu.
Upon selecting our wine and food, we were treated to some delicious warm bread and a delicious amuse bouche of carrot and caraway. The carrot was prepared 3 ways, puréed, pickled and there was also a carrot sorbet, resting on a caraway crumble.
For me the carrot sorbet was a bit if a revelation – it played with your mind a bit as caraway is quite sweet. The whole combination really played with the palate, refreshing and a great start to the meal.
Onto our starters – I surprised myself by going for the vegetarian option as I was torn between that and a trout dish, but the combinations of white, green and purple asparagus, goats curd, nasturtium flowers, crispy duck yolk and salted grapes got me very excited!
The salad was light and delicate, with hits of salt from the grapes. The levels of flavour were then complimented by the creamy goats curd and then the crispy richness of the egg yolk. I was stumped as to how a yolk could be deep fried without breaking! Nick chose the red mullet with alexanders, parsley, horseradish, apple and brandade croquette. This was so rich and robust in flavour and a stark contrast to the delicate asparagus – delicious! Unfortunately I couldn’t get a picture before it was devoured!
For mains I chose the Goosnargh duck with sweet potato purée, charred mango, five spice and black pepper. The duck was cooked to perfection in my opinion and was quiveringly pink and tender. Mango added a much needed sweetness to the rich meat. I loved the fact that the duck was also served with the heart aswell – full of iron and flavour.
Nick opted for the Yorkshire lamb, complete with tarragon gnocchi, globe artichokes, kalamata paste, smoked almonds and broad bean velouté, which I am reliably informed was succulent, flavoursome and the different elements held their own in the dish.
We were treated to a little pre-dessert of mint and ginger granita topped with an Earl Grey mousse. The mousse was brimming with the flavours of the tea, but I’m not convinced the flavours in the granita held up the the mousse. That being said, I had consumed a fair bit of wine by that point, so perhaps my taste buts were worse for wear!
For dessert I chose the passionfruit cannelloni, with mango and pineapple, lime yogurt, black sesame, and coconut snow. Canelloni itself was a beautifully set panna cotta and the black sesame added a hit of salty savouriness. Nick opted for the British strawberries with panacotta, black pepper crisp, candied fennel and berry sorbet. Both were a refreshing, light way to finish the meal.
I was very impressed by my experience at Van Zeller, the staff were attentive, but not over bearing and always on hand to top my wine up! The passion for food is evident purely from the pictures I’ve shown here, and the menu itself is innovative and I literally just wanted to eat everything. I expect Tom Van Zeller’s career to continue ascending. We’re already planning our next trip, and if you’re in the area I suggest you do the same!