Having just returned from holiday (blog post to follow!) it’s been a crazy week back at home but last night we were lucky enough to get a reservation at Roots – York, the much anticipated new venture by top chef Tommy Banks.
Nestled at the bottom of Marygate, close to the river, the former Bay Horse pub has been extensively renovated and decorated to a simple and clean cut design. The walls are kept a simple white colour with a Waincote oak panelling in between the exposed brick. We were sat by the striking original fireplace that had been restored and paint and towered elegantly over our table.
The menu is based on the unique ‘farm-to-fork’ philosophy of the Banks family and varies according to the seasons which are referred to as The Hunger Gap, Time of Abundance and the Preserving Season. As we approach the end of September (is anyone else feeling the cold all of a sudden!?) we are into preserving season and so the menu and ingredients are all about food which has been preserved using a variety of techniques for the season ahead. We opted for five of the small plates and two of the larger plates, all of which are sharer dishes, which we then followed up with two of the puddings to share. We then accompanied these with a York Gin and tonic – a great gin by a great local company.
The Roots sourbread and seed crackers are both freshly cooked every day and accompanied by a Lincolnshire poacher custard and a cultured butter. The Lincolnshire poacher was amazing without an overpowering cheese flavour, and was complimented perfectly against the salty butter.
Trout accompanied with pickled vegetables on a Oldstead piccalilli . I do not usually like pickled food however they blended perfectly without the vegetables overpower the delicate trout.
I am not usually a fan of lamb, however the lamb with fermented turnip bao bun was definitely one of my favourite plates! Served a perfect pink colour and very very flavoursome, I may have just become a lamb convert.
The Chicken thigh, rapeseed and mushroom (minus the mushroom for me), was delicately cooked and placed on a chicken fat emulsion and topped with charcoal mushroom discs. Just like the other dishes, it was full of flavour, succulent and certainly didn’t disappoint!
The Sour Pea falafel, which had a hint of aniseed to it, were served on a whipped pork fat purée and topped with bacon. This plate was then drizzled with a carrot and woodruff veloute at the table.
The rich Ox cheek was Dave’s favourite – braised for 9 hours to give it’s tender texture basically made it melt in the mouth! To balance the rich Ox cheek it’s served with cauliflower cooked in four different ways (baked, fresh, pickled and puréed). This was then topped with crispy kale and cheese, different and not something i’d usually seek out but having tasted this it’s safe to say that something I need to recreate. (which was sooooo good we totally forgot to snap a pic before we tucked in).
The steak skirts served with a couple of hash brown fries, pickled shallots with a mushroom mayonnaise. The plate had been dusted with onion powder that flavoured the rare steak. This usual cut of beef it their take on the old classic steak and chips.
This pudding was so fresh and sharp making a great palette cleanser after the rich food. It was constructed of white chocolate shards, sheeps yoghurt sorbet, cubes of Douglas fir and finished with dots of piped lemon verbena.
Mary Banks Apple cake is a old family recipe/ This warm and autumnal pudding is served on creme fraiche with honey taken from the hives at the Black Swan at Oldstead. This homely pudding was finished with a garnish of berries.
It’s recommended that you select three to four small plates each plus one of the larger plates each. However, whilst we could of happily feasted on everything on the menu, the mouthwatering food is incredibly rich and we definitely didn’t need anymore that what we ordered! All in all, Roots is a great addition to the York food scene and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to sample something different, with interesting combinations of flavours and cooking style.