Monday 3 September 2018

Dining at the Rise restaurant at the Grand Hotel & Spa York

When staying at the Grand Hotel & Spa in York you face a difficult decision: which amazing restaurant do you eat in?! Will it be The Rise (cuisine with a Yorkshire spin on British favourites from award-winning Executive Chef Craig Atchinson) or Hudsons (a 3 AA Rosette fine dining experience - also from Craig Atchinson - boasting five and nine course tasting menus). Whilst I'd love to try one of the tasting menus at Hudsons another time, on this occasion I tried The Rise. And boy was I in for a treat.


Head to the ground floor of the Grand Hotel York, walk past reception and you will come to a corridor lined with all manner of comfy armchairs. Straight ahead of you, you will find the loveliest of bars. I did hope to stop there for pre-dinner drinks but sadly time was tight (I only just made my booking on time). And I was too tipsy after the meal (god bless red wine). Enter the doorway opposite the bar and you will come across further bar seating tucked away from the main hustle and bustle of the bar. Climb the stairs (there is also a chair lift for those who need it) and you will find the entrance to The Rise Restaurant, Terrace & Bar.


Entry to the restaurant is through what can only be described as a glass box. Black frames outline the restaurant exterior (a heated terrace) which adds to the industrial feel of the exposed brick walls on entry. This industrial aspect is softened by soft furnishings, light greys and plenty of greenery and plant life. The marble table tops and grey seating were both very much to my taste. The sofa M. sat on had the appearance of a statement headboard, and how lovely are the small white tiles arranged in fan-like formations?


To start I was tempted by the scallops which sounded intriguing. Scallops and cauliflower is a common pairing I see in many restaurants - however the additional components of pickle and North African spice were entirely new to me. Having recently had an exceptional scallop dish at a London restaurant, I didn't want to play the comparison game. However this is a dish I would love to try on a future visit.

Instead I had grilled tiger prawns with a smoked paprika mayonnaise. I didn't want anything too heavy to start and these were just the ticket. With just the right amount of char, these were wonderfully meaty and moreish. If it was socially acceptable I would have licked my fingers right there in the middle of the restaurant. Instead I composed myself and used the finger bowl provided. Because I'm classy really.


A good starter is an excellent first impression of a restaurant and really gets things off to a good start. I struggled to come to a decision for the main course as everything sounded so tempting. I toyed for ages trying to decide between fish (my new obsession!) and meat, but the duck breast with herb gnocchi, hen of the wood mushrooms and stone fruit sounded like my kind of dish.

"Stone fruit" I took to mean anything in season which contained a stone and assumed this could be cherries as duck with cherries is a pretty common combination. And I was right. Personally I'm not a fan of duck with fruit - whether it be duck and cherries or duck and orange - but as luck may have it, there weren't many cherry halves on the plate and I just ate these first.

To be honest I still don't know what hen of the wood mushrooms actually are. These had a firmer consistency and more of a chew which reminded me of artichokes.

The duck was seasoned really well and although the skin wasn't as crispy as I'd usually like, it still had a great saltiness and depth of flavor. It was pink in the middle (just how I like it) and remained juicy and melt-in-the-mouth without drying out.


To accompany the starter and main course we sought out a red wine. Know this: I've never sent back a bottle of wine before and I felt like an absolute k*** for doing so. But that's the whole point of the initial wine tasting, right? That awkward moment when you swish the wine around in your glass and stick your nose in it like you know what you are doing. If you were back home you'd be halfway through the bottle already. I love a Malbec but I wanted to be adventurous for once and opted for a Merlot. I'm sorry, but that particular Merlot wasn't for me (it had a really funny after taste). So instead I reverted back to a fool proof bottle of Malbec. Oh well, I tried.


Having a three course meal out is a rarity these days as despite my humongous appetite, I can never quite manage dessert. Thanks to the lighter starter, I had a little more space than normal and ordered their warm dark chocolate mousse with cherries, honeycomb and hazelnuts. I first fished out all the cherries because priorities. And also because M. wouldn't eat them. I love cherries, but I've never really been into the forest gateau inspired chocolate-and-fruit combination (just personal preference). Now the path had been cleared, it was time to dive head first into the mousse. And what a mousse it was.

I was a bit confused by the whole warm mousse thing when I saw it on the menu. But now I want warm mousse forever more. It is best described as a decadent, thick, hot chocolate. Long time readers will know about my love of honeycomb and my past pursuits of making it. I will literally order any dessert that has honeycomb in it. And if chocolate is involved too, then it's a double win. The honeycomb added a crunch and a lovely additional texture to the dish. If anyone from the hotel or restaurant is reading this: PLEASE KEEP THIS DESSERT ON YOUR MENU. It is hand on heart, one of the best desserts I have ever had at a restaurant.


What a place! I loved York and even if I don't stay at The Grand next time, I would still hot-foot it to The Rise for dinner. Wonderful staff and service, exceptional food and beautiful surroundings - what more can you ask for? Whether you are in York for a day or overnight, whether you are a tourist or local, do seek out The Rise if you are ever in York!

Station Rise, 
York YO1 6GD

Nearest station: York

To book a table or view the current menu, click here

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