After a fabulous morning walking round York Minster and the city walls, we are heading for Arras and lunch. Arras is a relatively new restaurant opened by Adam and Lovaine Humphrey who, though both English, had opened the original Arras in Australia before being drawn back to the UK.
Let’s start with the negatives – there are only two and they are both small. Firstly, some of the tracks on the Arras lunchtime playlist are a little bizarre. I like driving rock music when I’m…driving. When I’m having lunch I want something a little more chilled. Second, I am briefly disappointed by the relatively limited beer menu. It doesn’t take me very long to choose Maris the Otter by Brew York, a smooth English bitter named after the Maris Otter variety of malt. However, my modest disappointment disappears when I read the food menu. Three courses, just three choices for each course – but every choice sounds interesting!
Rock starts with the grilled mackerel, brassicas and apple. The mackerel has been marinated before grilling and it works perfectly with the brassica and apple. I have the braised pork cheek with fermented rye grain, sauerkraut jelly and mustard sauce. The pork is as tender as anything and the great flavours of sauerkraut and mustard are there but they do not overpower the pork. Both dishes are beautifully presented and taste fantastic.
Is Arras going to be one of those places that presents you with fabulous starters and then follows with far less inspiring main courses? We soon have the answer…a definite no. Rock is even harder to impress than I am – but she really is impressed by her roast poussin, celeriac remoulade, mushrooms and lovage emulsion. How have they managed to infuse so much flavour into a roast poultry dish? My stone bass with puy lentils, cucumber and crab is also wonderful. The fish is perfectly cooked, crispy skin and flaky white flesh. Balancing a combination of flavours is the key when being inventive and this kitchen contains at least one person with a very finely tuned palate.
As is often the case, we decide to share a dessert. Another exquisitely presented plate arrives with cinnamon crumble in the centre, topped with a yoghurt sorbet. Segments of orange, chunks of orange jelly and small pieces of frozen berry all sitting on a red berry jus surround the crumble. Plus, draped across the plate… a square snake of vanilla and ricotta mousse. It is a fantastic collection of sweet and sharp, soft and crunchy taste sensations. Again the quality of each component and the balance of flavours borders on perfection.
All five dishes were incredibly well balanced with some unusual flavour combinations that really worked – if Arras can do that consistently they should be in line for a Michelin star! We also had really informative and efficient service from Charles.
If you live in York or you are planning to visit York and you want a high quality food experience – we strongly recommend that you try Arras.