Restaurant Review: Van Zellers
Nestled neatly on one of Harrogate’s quaintest streets, lined with antique jewellers, art galleries and boutique clothes shops, you will find a slate grey fronted haven for food lovers, Van Zellers.
The beautiful, minimalist yet inviting interior allows diners a chance to focus on the concise, eclectic menu that demands attention. Although Tom the chef and owner sources local ingredients where possible, he also ensures that all diners experience the very best he has to offer, no matter where in the world he has to fly ingredients in from, and boy does it make the plates laid in front of customers that much more special.
For starters we chose pheasant and ham hock pressed terrine, layered exquisitely and surrounded by pear and chicory, bringing a tang and bite to the rich and flavourful meat. The stark white plates brought the character of the food to life, allowing for not only the taste buds to be entertained but the eyes also.
The second starter gave little away on the menu, simply described as carrots and buttermilk, what arrived was a cacophony of deep autumnal colours, providing a delightful introduction to this entirely unique dish. Accompanied by wheat berries, fresh cheese, beremeal and rape seed the dish provided texture upon texture whilst remaining light and fresh.
With main courses including red deer, hake and partridge it was a struggle to decide on just the one dish each, in the end we settled upon roasted monkfish and hare.
The monkfish was presented in an elegant dish, paired with muscles in a light crisp coating, dashi broth, onions and dill, which brought out and complimented the deep meat flavour of the monkfish, the amalgamation of flavours and textures elevated this dish to simply one of the greatest plates of food I have ever had the privilege of eating.
However, closely it was closely followed by the hare, whose fellow ingredients included red cabbage, parsnip, juniper, fig and chocolate, all of which intensified the game like flavours, allowing for an almost sweet taste, a truly unique plate that I truly believe I will never taste anywhere else in the world.
Both the starters and the main courses highlighted the vast expertise of Tom and his team, not only when executing the flavour blends, but also the striking yet simple presentation and the never waving knowledge of the wait staff. The atmosphere provided by the staff amplified the entire experience and most certainly left me wanting more. Luckily next up was dessert.
For me it had to be the raspberry offering, my favourite fruit and following the meticulous attention to detail of the previous two courses I knew I was in for a real culinary treat, and I was not disappointed. The raspberries although the centre of the piece, were supported fantastically by the toasted goats cheese mallow, granola, lychee and olive oil, which only served to heighted the sharp and sour of the raspberries.
However, I was almost lead away from my beloved raspberries by the striking plum medley, including a pistachio cake, green tea and white chocolate, a true taste sensation that awoke every taste bud, and whose flavours lingered beautifully long after the last mouthful.
I cannot express the joy that eating at Van Zellers brought me, from the moment of stepping through the door to the four steps as you leave, the experience is most certainly worthy of the awards and praise that it receives, including the Good Food Guide Restaurant of the Year 2013 and I will without reservation be revisiting in the very near future. Or potentially even have the wonderful chefs come to my home and cook for me and friends there, an inspired new offering from the man behind the name above the door.
For more information about Van Zellers you can visit their site, where you can also book.
Thank you again to Tom, Peter and the rest of the team for making our evening so wonderful.