[Pickering, North Yorkshire] Willowgate Bistro

We ate here on our last trip to the area a few years back. The food then was reliable bistro cooking and so it was this time.

Bread came first. Nothing particularly noteworthy here. Except for the finely chopped green olives – a tapenade if you will – to slather over it. Nice. For one starter, there were a couple of scallops. Always a good sign of a place when you get accurate scallop cooking. And these were bang-on. They sat on a little risotto which had been given a little bite from chorizo and a freshness from the scattering of a few peas. The other starter was based on cured salmon, with a little crème fraiche flavoured with fennel, a couple of cubes of pickled beetroot and a sprig or two of watercress (grown in Pickering). Very light, very fresh. But, also, very very restrained in portion size.

Duck breast was perfectly cooked to medium rare. It came with an excellent example of how to cook dauphinoise potato. There’s also carrot, broccoli, bacon lardons and a red wine sauce. The other plate was a classic steak & chips. Steak accurately cooked as requested. Good chips. With tomatoes, mushrooms and a peppercorn sauce.

Only one of us wanted more to eat. None of the desserts appealed so cheese was ordered. A decent enough selection – Harrogate Blue, Charcoal Cheddar (yep, blended with charcoal – it should be vile but it isn’t) and another quite mild cheese. Classic accompaniments – crackers,. Butter, chutney, celery and apple.

A nice evening to start off a few days in the area.

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Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo