Van Zeller Restaurant,
Harrogate

Van Zeller is one of the best restaurants in Harrogate, a Good Food Guide Readers Restaurant of the Year.

Many UK diners prefer to refer to The Good Food Guide rather than the revered Michelin Guide, spoken by some only in hushed tones as if it were the be-all and end-all of restaurant standards. But the Good Food Guide is compiled on the basis of many more reviews by a mixture of professional food critics and avid diners, giving a more egalitarian approach. So when we saw that Van Zeller's Restaurant in Harrogate was the Readers Restaurant of the Year in the 2013 Good Food Guide, we knew it was something special.

In fact it was surprising we didn't trip over some awards when we entered this modest but attractively modern-looking little restaurant in Harrogate's Montpellier Quarter. Chef Tom van Zeller was Game Chef of the Year in 2014, and they've won awards for Best Service – which was hardly surprising given the friendly but professional service we enjoyed from the moment we arrived till we were handed our coats as we left.

Harrogate's Montpellier Quarter

The dining room's small and intimately lit, the design combining the informality of the wood-panel flooring and the stylish look of the pale-coloured walls with accent colours, black leather chairs and table-cloths looking like they were ironed just ten minutes ago.

It's a design that seems to reflect the chef's attitude to food too – as much local seasonal produce as possible (duck, chicken, salmon, smoked eel), but stylishly presented and with flavour surprises being the accent colours in the dishes.

Van Zeller's Menu Changes Seasonally

There was a choice of four home-made breads, including a garlic bread and a rosemary and fennel bread, and we just knew from the start that this was not going to be one of those places where the bread would come round once so you'd better choose wisely. You can't decide? Have one of each. The amuse-bouches sound simple but were heavenly bites: a kind of salmon fishcake and a cheesy bread that was as light as air. 

We had the 3-course fixed-price (currently £50) menu, and given the quality of the food and the extras (bread, amuse-bouches, a few palate-cleansers from the kitchen), it was superb value. For our starter it was that decadent treat, foie gras, intriguingly combined with passion fruit and miso. And what a flavour power-punch that was.

As were the main courses, tender slices of mallard combining with choucroute, baby beetroots and quince, and salmon with avocado, watercress and a bacon jam – yes, really. You knew that here was a chef who both knew and loved his ingredients, and was both serious and playful with flavours. It was no surprise to learn that Tom van Zeller has worked with Raymond Blanc and Tom Aikens, amongst other top chefs, and his business partner in Van Zeller's, David Moore, is also behind London's Pied à Terre, with its two Michelin stars.

You also knew that no matter how full you were, you were not going to miss the desserts, because if nothing else in the north of England they love a good dessert. Not at Van Zeller the chunky pudding, though, but instead desserts were arty rather than hearty. Blackberries came with yoghurt, mint and black pepper, while raspberries (why can we never find raspberries that taste this good?) were served with a caramelised white chocolate and – a Yorkshire nod – the local gingerbread cake known as parkin.

We stepped out onto Montpellier Street with the only feeling you need after going out for dinner – that you couldn't have found a better way of spending the evening, and you can't wait to return.

More Information

www.vanzellerrestaurants.co.uk

For more information on Harrogate and the surrounding area see the Visit Harrogate website.


See All Our Harrogate Pages

How to Get from London to Harrogate

THINGS TO DO IN HARROGATE
Harrogate's Kitchen Garden

WHERE TO STAY IN HARROGATE
West Park Hotel

WHERE TO EAT IN HARROGATE
Van Zeller Restaurant
West Park Hotel

Photos

All photos courtesy of Van Zeller's Restaurant and Visit Harrogate.


Check Our England Book Reviews


Buy Our Best Day Trips from London Guide


The Ten Best Day Trips from London is a Kindle guide to the most popular attractions in England that can be easily reached and enjoyed in one day. It focuses on the practical information, telling you how to get to your destination by train, by coach, or by driving - and recommends the best choice to make.

For all ten destinations there are direct links to coach and bus timetables, the cheapest fares, and direct booking options for tickets. This travel guide also recommends the best things to see and do in each destination, with links to websites for opening hours and admission prices. 

The Kindle guide includes over 40 colour photos and 11 colour locator maps, showing you where every place is in relation to London.

Buy the guide at Amazon UK, Amazon USA or other Amazon stores worldwide.






Connect with Us on Google+

Recent Articles

  1. Floors Castle

    Dec 26, 16 03:03 AM

    Beyond London Travel visits Floors Castle near Kelso in the Scottish Borders, family home of the Duke of Roxburghe and one of VisitScotland's 5-star visitor attractions, a Scottish Downton Abbey.

    Read More

  2. Beyond London Travel Books

    Dec 04, 16 12:37 PM

    The Beyond London Travel Books page reviews guidebooks, history, mysteries and fiction to help readers enjoy their visits to England, the UK, France, and beyond.

    Read More

  3. Food Trails Book Review

    Dec 04, 16 12:20 PM

    Beyond London Travel reviews Food Trails, a new guidebook from Lonely Planet for the culinary traveller which helps you plan 52 Perfect Weekends in the world's tastiest destinations.

    Read More