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Review | The Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court, York

Review | The Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court, York

So you’ve got that extra special celebratory date coming up, or perhaps you’re due a bit of self-indulgence and fancy a relaxed meal in opulent surroundings? We’ve all been there, on route to the destination restaurant, tucked away at the back of beyond, sat-nav having a meltdown, co-driver in a panic.

Well, what if we said there’s a place with all the opulence of a country manor, the style of a French chateau and the food just as good as a Michelin-Starred chef, all within the old city walls of York.

Grays Court Hotel Location

The 2-AA-Rosette awarded Bow Room Restaurant is situated within Grays Court Hotel. Tucked away between the iconic York Minster and the medieval city walls. The 11thc boutique hotel is one of the most historic buildings in England and is the oldest continuously occupied private house in York.

Sign to the hotel. Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court York

Front entrance. Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court York
From the medieval stone floor, huge front door, oak-panelled gallery, ornate stained-glass windows and the only private house with direct access to the city walls, this grand old building is the premier address in York. Owner Helen Heraty has developed the epitome of ‘country house in the city’. The 11 bedroom hotel and restaurant is an oasis of calm and the perfect place to escape the throes of tourists descending on the city.

As we headed up the cobbled driveway we were blown away by the magnificent grandeur of the building. Upon entering we were taken upstairs to the stunning gallery room for pre-dinner drinks. The building does not give the feel of a city centre hotel, more like a glamorous dinner party with old friends. With drinks in hand, curiosity got the better of us and it was time for a peak around the gardens with The Bow Room’s Head Chef Joe Clappham.

Both Helen and Joe’s commitment to providing locally and sustainably grown herbs and vegetables show with a range of edible produce planted in the half-acre kitchen garden along the historic city walls.

Exterior. Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court York

Kitchen garden. Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court York

The Bow Room Restaurants Food

Now I love the whole tasting menu experience as much as the next foodie, it’s the perfect way for the Chef to really show their culinary talents and a way to sample a good number of dishes without being over faced. But do you ever find there are one or two ingredients on the menu you wish weren’t there?

Well, this is where Joe and the team change this. Before you dine the chefs attend to each guest to confirm if there are any ingredients they’d rather not eat. Personally, not being a massive game fan, to be able to give the chef a heads up so he can change the dishes to suit the guest is a revelation.

Gallery room. Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court York

Gallery room. Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court York
To start the evening Joe served up a few small amuse bouche style dishes, ranging from carrot, seabuckthorn chilli and coriander broth, to get the taste buds going. Followed by a light and delicate hot smoked salmon served with pink peppercorn and sorrel from the garden. The star of the show from the pre-dinner courses had to be the sumptuous Lindisfarne oysters, cleaned then placed on a bed of lemon bavarois and finished with milk powder sugar and caviar. Hands down the best oysters we’ve had. Together with a glass of English sparkling fizz, we knew the evening would be a night of foodie heaven.

Hot smoked salmon. Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court York

Oysters. Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court York
Shortly after the oysters were finished we were up and off to the beautiful dining room. Creating the perfect atmosphere with a mix of antique furniture, modern art and contemporary music, this was a world away from more stuffy fine dining locations, more like the best dinner party you’ve ever been to. With floor to ceiling windows, looking onto the beautiful gardens and city walls, there are not many better places to sample an evening of great food and wine in the city of York.

Restaurant interior. Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court York

Beautiful gardens. Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court York

Halibut, Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court York

Homemade bread and butter. Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court York
Our first course was a celebration of spring. Halibut, heritage strawberries, fresh garden peas, chamomile jelly and pink grapefruit. Delicious clean flavours to keep the tastebuds flowing. There’s an ever-rotating selection of freshly made bread and homemade butter. This evening’s treat was lovage butter and sourdough bread made with a local IPA.

Langoustine, Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court York

Cod, Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court York
Our second fish course of the evening, and possibly one of my favourite dishes. Pan fried langoustine, served with wild garlic leaves and flowers served with a punchy langoustine bisque made from their heads. Onto the next course, pan-seared cod with asparagus and green tomato. Perfectly cooked with a buttery crust and al dente vegetables. Utilising the freshest seasonal ingredients to deliver such stunning flavour.

Not only a dab hand at cooking the fish courses, our 2-day salt aged duck that followed, was another contender for dish of the night. Cooked whole over banana leaves and served with tenderstem broccoli, banana puree, lime and peanut. On paper, I didn’t think the flavour combinations would work, however, Head Chef Joe’s ability and creativity shone through. The duck dish paired perfectly with an excellent Pinot Noir from the Bow Room’s extensive selection of wines.

Moving on from savoury and into sweeter dishes to finish the evening. First a palate cleanser of douglas fir granita, compressed pear and maple, followed by The Bow Room’s take on strawberries and cream. In this case Ewe’s curd mouse, fresh strawberries and lemon verbena. An absolute classic elevated to new heights.

Last but definitely not least and probably one of the most inventive desserts I’ve had the pleasure of eating in a long time. Sweet potato tart served in a dark chocolate pastry case, topped off with a highly moreish brown butter ice-cream. Who knew sweet potato could be served like that? I certainly didn’t but if I see it on a menu again it’s a no brainer for me.

Unfortunately as the last plate was cleared and the glasses of wine were finished it was time to leave. The Bow Room at Grays Court delivered on every front and so much more. The stunning location is so sublime you really can’t believe it’s so central but yet so peaceful, tucked away just a stone’s throw from the Minster.

The Bow Room Restaurant Summary

From entering through the grand old doors to saying our goodbyes we really did not feel like we’d stepped into a restaurant. More like the best dinner party you’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. From the warm and friendly service to the sublime food and the simple yet ingenious thought to ask the customer what they don’t like, but still deliver a tasting menu to showcase the very best ingredients, either local or even from the kitchen garden.

Be it a celebratory evening, catch up with friends or a destination for a much needed night away, The Bow Room at Grays Court should be on the top of your foodie list.

Tasting Menu – £65 pp / £115 with wine pairing.  Additional cheese course £10 pp

Grays Court Hotel and The Bow Room Restaurant
Chapter House St,

01904 612613

View Sample Menu


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Written by

Peter Henry


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