Archive for January, 2012

Melton’s Restaurant Review, York (Jan 2012)

Posted on: January 31st, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Melton’s is located outside the medieval city wall in a residential street. This narrow roomed, plainly furnished restaurant is the epitome of everything one would expect in a good, family run establishment. The husband cooks, the wife is front of house, and a daughter assists as a waitress. It has modest aims, lacks pretension and is excellent value for money. The food, nevertheless, shows ambition in its range of techniques, harmonious combination regional and seasonal ingredients, and balance of tastes and textures. The consistency with which the kitchen delivers dishes at a high level of sophistication has earned it regular appearances in the food guides. Hence, it is a clear favourite amongst York’s discerning foodies.

The set lunch and early dinner offer – three courses from the carte for £25 – is amazing value. The alternatives in each course provide a real embarrassment of choice

Scandinavian salmon was lightly cured to preserve its essential delicacy. Pickled vegetables which gave The sweet astringency of soused vegetables, and gentle heat with a melting sensation of horseradish snow, provided the perfect foil in taste and texture for the fish.

Melton's Salmon

At the centre of an assiette of pork – “The Whole Hog” – was a square of well seasoned belly, roasted, pressed and finished in the pan. Although delicious, it was minus its skin. (Apparently, this has slipped through the net as crackling is normally provided!) Ham hock terrine was suitably robust in flavour whilst a portion of stuffed trotter, in all its soft, gelatinous richness, was balanced by a crisp, deep fried ear, perched on a buttery potato fondant. Braised Bigos cabbage provided a suitable green vegetable and the whole dish was brought together by an unctuous, deeply flavoured Madeira jus. This was well judged, impeccable cooking.

Melton's Pork

Local cheeses, including Barncliffe, Richard the Third and Laceys Blue, were in perfect condition and came with homemade biscuits, Yorkshire parkin and a tangy chutney

For dessert a hot prune and brandy soufflé was well risen, of the correct consistency, and served with a little jug of extra sauce sauce.

Melton's Souffle

Service throughout was welcoming, solicitous and knowledgeable. The assistant manager – not one of the family – was apologetic for the lack of crackling!

Melton’s certainly deserves its strong reputation not only as a neighbourhood restaurant, but also a favourite for those who journey from further afield. It success has led to expansion if the form of Melton’s Too in the city centre, which offers a more brasserie style menu and informal style of eating

AA Three (3) Rosette Awards January 2012 Press Release

Posted on: January 17th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood


Seven Restaurants Awarded Three Coveted AA Rosettes

The AA today announces seven establishments that have just been awarded its coveted three AA Rosettes.  The higher AA Rosettes, awarded just twice a year, celebrate the exceptionally high standards of cuisine that these restaurants offer.

Two of these restaurants are in London , while the remaining five range from Scotland to West Sussex . 

The new three Rosette restaurants are:-

  • Hakkasan Mayfair, London
  • Roganic, London
  • Cotswold 88, Painswick
  • Tuddenham Mill, Newmarket
  • Gravetye Manor, East Grinstead
  • East Lodge Country House Hotel, Rowsley
  • Mark Greenaway at No 12 Picardy Place , Edinburgh

AA Hotel Services manager Simon Numphud said, “We are delighted to recognise seven new establishments with the achievement of three AA Rosettes. All have demonstrated a high level of consistency and accuracy in the overall cooking standards that our inspection team have experienced.

“Restaurants serving food of a three Rosette standard are worthy of recognition from well beyond their local area and I am delighted that these very deserving restaurants have been acknowledged for their efforts.”

AA Rosettes are awarded solely by AA Hotel and Restaurant Inspectors with no influence from hotels, restaurants or other guides. The AA Rosette scheme is long established and successfully recognises cooking at different levels nationwide. The success or failure in achieving Rosettes is based on at least one visit to a hotel or restaurant. Essentially it’s a snapshot, whereby the entire meal including ancillary items are assessed.  Of all the restaurants across the UK , approximately 10% are of a standard which is worthy of one Rosette and above.

Details of the new three AA Rosette restaurants



The Hanway Place original has been a paragon of the London dining scene since 2001, arguably changing the way Chinese food is seen in the UK . The uptown sibling lacks none of the verve and excitement that captured our hearts more than a decade ago. A first-timer may well be won over by kicking off with a cocktail – The Hakka, perhaps – but the food is capable of leaving a lasting impression, too. The doorman, who ushers in arrivals, adds to the Mayfair vibe, and the décor of burnished wood, marble and leather, combined with the low-lighting (particularly in the basement dining room) gives a feeling of inscrutable luxury. Those familiar with the lexicon of Chinese menus will find some familiar dishes, but what is on offer here is a cut above in terms of quality of produce, inspiration and execution.   


The clock is ticking. Simon Rogan – holder of five Rosettes at his Cumbrian high-flying gaff, L’Enclume – has a two-year lease at his big city outpost, between Marylebone Road and Baker Street . ‘Pop up’ restaurant is the expression, but, hopefully, Mr Rogan’s talents won’t be lost to the capital. The temporary nature of the venue means every expense has not been thrown at it, but it’s none the worse for that. With tightly packed bare tables and splashes of colour from vivid modern artworks, there is little distraction from what appears on the plate – and what appears on the plate is sometimes surprising, usually amazing to look at, and always good to eat. Rogan’s trademark is to search out unusual or little used British ingredients, to create thrilling combinations and to always allow the produce to take centre stage. The menu takes the form of multiple courses, six or ten dishes, plus a three-course weekly-changing lunch. The creativity and high quality is maintained from start to finish.



Whilst the rather grand Cotswold-stone exterior makes a reassuringly traditional first impression, what lies behind the timeless façade is a myriad of bold designer flourishes and a cornucopia of luxuriant furnishings. This is a boutique hotel and no mistake. The dining room goes for a black, white and red theme, and stripes – lots of stripes – whilst the crisp white linen-clad, smartly laid tables reflect the serious intent that lurks behind the playfulness of the décor. A canapé of miniature fish and chips show that a bit of fun is not out of the question, but notice the fabulous quality of the fish. The Eighty Eight Room is chef Lee Scott’s domain and he turns out confident modern dishes that showcase his acute technical skills.



The old mill has scrubbed up very well indeed. ‘Rustic chic’ they call it, which sums up the place rather well, being both full of original beams and character, but with a contemporary gloss to the fixtures and fittings. And an alluring boutique hotel it doth make. The restaurant is up on the first floor, with the glassed-in top half of the waterwheel a reminder of the great buildings original function. (Glass inset panels in the floor give views down to the flowing water below, too). But despite the reminders of times gone by, this is a modish feeling space, with a decided lack of pretention, and a menu, from chef Paul Foster, that features lots of little-seen ingredients, such as pennywort and water mint, and makes use of contemporary cooking techniques. The knowledgeable service fits the bill and the wine list is well worth exploring.

East Grinstead


With its combination of heaps of historic charm and high standards of service, not forgetting some seriously good cooking and beautiful gardens, Gravetye is a country-house hotel which leaves a lasting impression of comfort and joy. The wood-panelled dining room is brimful of traditional features with burnished oak, a real fire and oil paintings, and tables are dressed with all the anticipated fine-dining elegance. The plush lounges make a fine introduction – canapés and all –- before you head into the dining room.   Presentation is good and the quality of the produce high.  The new owners since 2010, have successfully brought Gravetye back to the top table.



This one-time hunting lodge within the Peak District National Park has a more elevated position on the social scale these days – as a delightful and thoroughly charming country-house hotel. The 10 acres of grounds only add to its appeal, with landscape gardens to explore, whilst the interior has plenty of traditional character and comforts to soothe in fair weather and in foul.  The restaurant – intimate in scale but big on ambition – is a major part of the draw here, with chef Simon Bradley serving up some classy and confident dishes in the intimate dining room. There’s a chef’s table, too, giving the opportunity to see all the action up close and personal, with its own tasting menu on offer. Wherever you choose to sit, you can expect modern food with up-to-date cooking techniques to the fore, and fine Derbyshire produce at its core.



No. 12 Picardy Place is at the heart of the action, a short amble from Princes Street , and has a restaurant headed up by Mark Greenaway that places it at the forefront of the city’s culinary firmament. Behind the handsome Georgian façade you’ll find bags of boutique style in the form of a cocktail bar, über-cool bedrooms, a swanky room for the swankiest of events, and a restaurant with exposed stone walls, done-out with colours chosen from the suitably fashionably muted palette. Mark Greenaway gets his name over the door, and rightly so, for he is a talented chef serving up some rather thrilling food. The lunch and early evening menu – the Market Menu – is a bit of a steal for two or three courses, whilst the carte (decent value itself by today’s standards) proudly lists the Scottish suppliers. Whilst flavour and texture are to the fore, there is no stinting with the presentation.