A visit to Roots – Tommy Banks’ York restaurant

Last week I had the double pleasure of a meal out with my husband to celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary and dining at Tommy Banks’ restaurant in York. Tommy, a Great British Menu winner, started Roots just under a year ago following the success of his first restaurant The Black Swan in Olstead to the north of York. Tommy has a passion for cooking fresh produce, both grown on his farm in Olstead and sourced locally. Read on to get an idea of the ambience and experience of Roots.

We had an early evening sitting, pre-booked due to the growing popularity of the restaurant.

The restaurant was quiet on our arrival, but soon got busy and warmer (they have yet to put in air conditioning our waitress tells us). There is a bar upstairs for pre-dinner drinks and post dinner coffee, but we headed straight to the table in an uncluttered dining area downstairs. A nice design touch is that the table legs are uniquely designed to look like plant roots.

You can choose sharing dishes from the menu to create your own meal, or go for the Roots feast where a selection of dishes prepared with seasonal ingredients are chosen for you. We chose the latter. You are asked of particular likes and dislikes as the waitress brings a jug of water to your table before your feast commences. We join Roots in their ‘Time of Abundance’ summer season.

Each evening’s seating will get a different selection of dishes, according to what is in season. Our feast starts with Sour Bread and Seed Crackers with Lincolnshire Poacher Custard and Chive Cultured Butter accompaniments. Yes, you read that right – savoury custard. Great amounts of flavour setting the tone of imaginative and expertly executed dishes. Oh, and a nice touch for us is an anniversary card on the table.

Not usually too keen on fennel, I am slightly apprehensive for Carrot, Hazelnuts, Fennel and Goat’s Curd. How wrong can I be. Heaven knows how that vegetable can be made to have such a delicate flavour that goes so well with the other dish components. Could even be my favourite dish of the evening.

The Nasturtium ‘Ceasar’ brings back childhood memories of having Nasturtium flowers and leaves picked from the garden in our salads. A dish of cheese, leaves and flowers that can evoke happy memories and tastes great gets my vote.

Sea bass, Strawberries and cream is not a combination I would have automatically put together, but it works more than either of us expects.

Trout with the farm’s peppers and a mussel sauce. With that super crispy skin, what’s not to like?

The most intense flavours in our feast come from the Salt Beef with Mustard, Gherkins and Old Winchester. Forget the mustard, slice and gherkins on your fast food burger though, this is refined and complimentary to the melt in the mouth salt beef smothered in great cheddar.

The dishes keep on coming, and this time it’s Lamb Rump, Courgette and Baby Vegetables. Maybe if I serve courgette pureed with delicious lamb, my daughter would find that particular vegetable more appealing. My own courgettes are ready for picking soon…

Never ones to refuse a cheese course, we add this extra to the meal, curiously placed between mains and desserts. Homemade crackers and chutney accompany a blue goat, two sheep milk and one cheddar cheese. My husband finishes the goat’s cheese for me (never was a fan).

We’ve finally got to the desserts. Eton Mess Roots style is made with oats instead of the traditional cream. Giving a porridge like quality to the dish, the oats take away the lighter feel of an Eton Mess. My other half is less impressed than me. Oh well, he ate the goat’s cheese.

Gooseberry and Elderflower cake to finish, so light it’s like a summer’s day. Unfortunately we both like this one.

The alcoholic and soft drinks menu is of reasonable size, with some interesting offerings – we went for English wine and non alcoholic cocktails including an astonishing Gooseberry Martini that tasted every bit like an alcoholic tangy Martini.

Roots is a reasonably priced restaurant for that of a celebrity chef that celebrates the British seasons and provides a quality experience that I would happily repeat.

Food 9/10 Service 9/10 Value for money 10/10 Ambience 8/10 (get the air-con installed)

Roots Feast £60 per head at time of writing. Cheese and drinks are an additional cost.

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