Sunday lunch has always been a big tradition in my family. In fact, whilst growing up it was probably one of the few times that we all sat together round the table during any given week.
I have fantastic memories of being tasked to help my dad make Yorkshire puddings, carefully whisking the mixture under his expert eye. There was also the time my mother managed to concoct an apple crumble which was inexplicably somehow both raw on the inside and burnt on top, despite seeing 30 minutes of nuclear action in the oven.
It’s no surprise then that a good Sunday roast is now something close to my heart, despite the fact that I rarely make it back to my home town for the ‘real’ thing.
One might ask whether I should just use my supposedly inherited skills to recreate things at home, however cooking for two doesn’t exactly lend itself well to large amounts of meat, potato and vegetables. There is also the time aspect of things as I would much rather spend my Sunday relaxing rather than cooking, letting a well trained chef take care of things.
You can therefore imagine I was all too pleased to oblige when the summons came to try out Sunday Lunch at the Refectory Kitchen and Terrace, the new restaurant at the Royal York Hotel*, which has just undergone a mammoth restoration and refurbishment.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by the gorgeous new interior, which is somehow both grand and comfortable (I’m sure they won’t mind me saying it’s a huge improvement on the previous slightly drab scenery).
We then made our way through to the Refectory Restaurant and Terrace, which proved to be an equally inviting space. I particularly appreciated the open plan layout and lashings of natural light.
We were seated at our table by a very friendly staff member (always appreciated) and handed the Sunday Lunch menu which laid out a selection starters, mains and puddings.
To start, I dived straight into a gorgeous plate of Smoked salmon, avocado and granary toast. Des decided to be slightly more daring, opting for the pressed smoked ham hock, piccalilli and toasted mustard monkey bread.
I found my portion generous, with a pleasingly ripe avocado and good quality salmon, thickly cut and not too fatty. Des was also impressed by his ham hock, describing the pickled quails eggs as especially pleasing!
Finding myself slightly less hungry than perhaps was required, I decided to let Des take on the “challenge” of the Sirloin roast of the day. After much deliberating, I found myself leaning towards the cod fishcake in parsley sauce.
I have to say in all honesty, I was somewhat disappointed with the portion size, despite the fact it was rather delicious. The fishcake looked rather lost on plate without any vegetables to accompany it.
The roast however, was by all accounts a very excellent affair (I managed to snaffle some from Des, but not enough!). The meat in particular was a highlight, medium rare and full of flavour.
I also have it on good authority that the Yorkshire puddings and vegetables were up to scratch. Des was however slightly bemused by what he described as “orange flavored carrots with too much bite”
After a somewhat filling main, I decided to go all out for dessert and opted for the special of the day – a trio of chocolate mousse, raspberry madeleine and pistachio tart.
As you can see for yourself, it was certainly a stunning plate. The chocolate mousse was particularly pleasing and went well with the slightly muted flavours from the tart and madeleine.
Des decided to stick with a classic: English strawberries which came with lashings of clotted cream; the perfect antidote to a hearty main.
Despite my slightly disappointing main (my fault for going for the non-traditional choice perhaps?), I do feel the Sunday lunch here is particularly good value at two courses for £19.95 and three courses for £23.95.
The roast was however excellent, probably one of the best I have ever seen in the city. The surroundings are also one of the most pleasant you can find in York, something which really adds to the impression you are taking yourself out for a treat!
Find out more about Sunday Lunch at the Refectory Kitchen and Terrace here
*Our meal and drinks were complimentary, however my opinion is my own, as always.