“Dean Court Hotel”:http://www.deancourt-york.co.uk/ must have one of the best locations in York, opposite the west end of the Minster. We were given a free night there by Silver Travel as a “reward”:http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/blog/prizes/rosettes-for-reviewers-and-more for writing 250 reviews. This included either a three course dinner in the restaurant or an allowance in the Court Cafe.
We had been in two minds whether to eat in the restaurant as we were concerned the menu might be a bit too esoteric (poncy) for our tastes. We needed have worried and are very glad we did. We read through the menu in our room and began to salivate. There was plenty of choice. The problem would be deciding what to have. Fortunately we had plenty of time to study and decide before heading for dinner.
The restaurant is an L shaped room overlooking the Minster. It has an attractive modern feel with pale walls, pale wood or glass topped tables and dark brown upholstered seats. There are potted palms around the room and a small potted cactus on the tables.
We were shown to our table in a corner with the best view of the Minster. Chairs were pulled out for us and the large white napkin shaken out and placed on our laps. We placed our order.
A choice of warm rolls were brought out while we waited for our starters. We were offered seconds which we reluctantly decided to turn down. Michael played safe with a starter of Duck liver and pistachio parfait, which was basically a duck paté. It was smooth and rich with pieces of pistachio scattered through it. I rather felt their flavour classed with that of the duck. It was garnished with swirls of thinly sliced radish and small leaves.
I decided to live dangerously with the corn fed chicken and shitake mushroom ballatine. I looked up ballatine when we got home and it was described as deboned leg of chicken which has been stuffed. This in fact was more like pounded chicken which was mixed with small pieces of mushroom forming a sort of mousse which was served as a roulade. It had a fairly mild, possibly bland flavour and was served with tiny mushrooms and lambs lettuce. It came topped with what was described as hazelnut crisp. It was too, and very more-ish.
Having had chicken for my starter, I chose the slow braised ox cheek. This was a generous portion of meat with a rich gravy, sitting on what was described as a pomme fondant, with Chantenay carrots and what was described on the menu as wild horseradish root. This was very mild in flavour. The ox cheek was very, very tender. Apparently it is vacuum packed with its sauce and then cooked for 16 hours at 82˚. Before serving it is given a blast at high temperature to caramelise the top. It was different and very good.
Michael chose the pan roasted chicken with thyme scented pastry and an Alsace bacon sauce. This was a generous helping of chicken breast in an excellent white wine sauce, with thinly sliced pink fir apple potatoes and Chantenay carrots. The thyme pastry were tiny rounds of puff pastry were a different and interesting addition. He enjoyed it.
As a desert, I couldn’t resist the Dark Fondant. This was a new one on me – a dark chocolate sponge mix which was only baked long enough to set the outside. The inside was still runny. It was served with slices of blood orange and a small serving of grilled vanilla sorbet. Here the vanilla is roasted before being added to the sorbet. This completely changes the flavour of the vanilla, giving it a tang It was delicious, an excellent choice which I really enjoyed. When asked if everything was all right I was strongly tempted to ask for seconds…
Michael went for the cheese board, which was three small helpings of cheese, Wensleydale, sage Derby and blue Shropshire. This was served with a selection of thin crackers and a pineapple chutney. This had a tang to it and went down well with the crackers. Being a man for his cheese, Michael’s only comment was that the pieces of cheese ‘could have been a bit bigger’.
Feeling very full, we declined the coffee. We stuck to water with the meal, probably a sensible decision as the ox cheek had a slightly gamey flavour and probably wouldn’t have gone down well with wine. Our glasses were kept topped up without asking.
The food was beautifully presented on white china. We wished we’d taken a camera in with us. Staff were friendly and helpful, explaining what each course was. Any questions we had were checked with the chef before returning with the answer. They checked regularly that we were happy with the food and enjoying it. We got the feeling that nothing was too much trouble. As you may have gathered, we enjoyed our meal and were very impressed by the restaurant.
Gluten free options were marked on the menus. The restaurant isn’t very large and guests are advised to book a table for dinner. The hotel provides parking for overnight guests, but not for visitors.
The á la Carte menu can be found “here.”:https://www.deancourt-york.co.uk/dining/