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  • timbarber

Arras – fine dining, full of flavour in York

Updated: Jun 10


A friend of mine who lives in York had raved on about Arras for a number of years, so with a tour finishing in York last Friday and my wife having a meeting in the city, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to sample what Arras had to offer at first hand.


After a bit of pre-dinner research, I found out that the restaurant was originally set up in Sydney Australia by Lovaine and Adam Humphreys, a husband and wife team who have been working together since 2001. They moved back to England to start a family and so Arras was reborn in York. Their vision is to create a dining experience which is captivating and fun – so fine dining with a twist. Off the back of this philosophy, I was looking forward to something which was a bit more outside the box.


We arrived for our table at 6.15pm, at an understated brick built building which was formerly an old coach house just across the road from the traditional Black Swan pub (I’d managed to sneak a pint in whilst waiting for my wife!). Upon entering the building, we found ourselves in a modern, fluorescently lit bar area where we were met and quickly taken up some steps through to the restaurant area.


The main restaurant area was a completely different style to the bar – being bright and airy with a long sky light to let a natural light in. The tables were well spread out and there was a very relaxed vibe. The two gentlemen who were front of house were friendly and helpful, getting us a jug of water and running through the menu options.


Whilst there was a 5 course menu with paired wines available, we went for the 3 Course Arras Carte menu, with 3 courses for £70.


We started with a nice glass of Rose – a Chateau Val d’Arenc Bandol and were served a selection of complementary nibbles. All 3 were unique, from left to right there was a salami with fennel and ricotta cheese, smoked mackerel on a seaweed crisp and finally a chickpea and pomegranate puri. We were advised to try the mackerel last as it had the strongest flavours.


There was another unexpected treat as we were served a crab arancini in a tomato sauce. This was delicious and well presented.


After a short break our starters arrived.


My wife had gone for the scallops. There were two roast scallops with saag gobi, marinated cauliflower, coconut and curry sauce. As the waiter had previously bought us a wonderful sliced sourdough (made in their Little Arras Bakery down the road), I managed to have a quick mop up of the curry sauce which was full of flavour. The starter got a big thumbs up from my wife.


I went for the monkfish char sui, crispy eggplant and Asian pickle. This was a large piece of meaty monkfish, with a strong Chinese flavouring . The aubergine/egg plant tempora was lovely and served as a mini jenga with the sharp pickle taste complemented the fish perfectly.


For main course, my wife went for the roast sirloin, grains, ox cheek tart and smoked bone marrow mousse. It was tender and tasty.


I ordered a large glass of rioja to go with my main course then went for the Lamb Saturday – a spiced lamb rump, merguez pastille, lib koosa (a courgette and garlic mix) and moghrabieh (a type of large couscous). I was so glad I had chosen this, not only did it taste great with lots of flavours it all looked great too.


Two decent type pieces of lamb and a little filo pastry of Moroccan lamb sausage meat plus all the sides  - this was a mini feast.


My wife decided against a 3rd course as she was full. I decided to bat on and went for The Rhubarb Pick Me Up! A great name for a dessert consisting of lemongrass poached rhubarb, rhubarb and green tea curd along with lemongrass ice cream.


The lemongrass ice cream helped take way some of the tartness of the rhubarb. I love the sharpness of rhubarb but I found the rhubarb and green tea curd just a tad too strong.

I noticed a few of the diners going for the English cheeseboard and listened in to the descriptions of some of the cheese – they had some of my favourites like the Leeds Blue and Kirkham’s Lancashire. It’s great to see a wooden trolley with so many cheeses being wheeled out in a restaurant and I would have partaken if I had, had any room in my stomach left!


A meal out, no matter how good the food is can me made or broken by the service. A special mention must be made to the staff. They were on the ball, fun and friendly and definitely added to the experience.


So, Arras was a big hit with my wife and I. Really interesting food, innovative dishes and some great flavours. An enjoyable dining experience and now I can see why my friend raves about the place.


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