Monday, 12 September 2011

Talking Tapas at Ambiente

I know that this has been less of a foodie on a diet blog lately than a foodie getting married, losing the will to cook and eating out a bit. Bear with (as Miranda’s gal pal would say). Once all the wedding madness is over then normal service will be resumed. I have downloaded a gorgeous new meal planning template (see here) and have tentatively started identifying a few bookmarks that need to be cooked in the near future. I have also got hold of the couch to 5k iphone app to try and reboot my relationship with the treadmill (which to this date has been marred by a lack of interest on my side and a tendency towards masochism on his).
Anyhoo, in the meantime, let’s talk about some lovely tapas that D and I indulged in last Friday. We were celebrating some work stuff, plus, there was nothing in the house to eat bar baked beans. I really must go shopping.

So, tapas. Can I just say that our first ever holiday as a couple was to Barcelona, a very few months after we first got together and the city subsequently holds a very special place in my heart. I don’t think I had ever eaten tapas before that particular holiday – perhaps La Tasca had yet to invade the high street or perhaps it was just never a style of eating that I had thought to try. But I returned home a firm believer. Not just in tapas but in the fact that Barcelona was one of the most amazing cities in the world and the perfect place for two people on the cusp of…something.

And I’ve been to La Tasca a few times in the last few years in a vain attempt to recapture the magic – it’s an ok place to go with a large group of friends; frankly, I’m not prepared to be snobbish about chain restaurants for the most part – they provide a service, are generally reasonably priced, and one knows exactly what one is going to get if one chooses to eat there. But of course, one does not go to La Tasca and expect to find food that tastes like it it emerged from the kitchen of a bar just off Las Ramblas.

Well, Ambiente in York is a good step closer to that authentic experience. We ordered 8 dishes from the menu (3-4 per head was the recommendation) that ranged from the quite nice to excellent.

Wheel of tapas - anchovies, ham and manchego on bread
 The high points – I absolutely loved the pan fried pigeon breast with chestnut puree (paloma y pure de cartanas). It was tender and juicy and perfectly seasoned with a nice peppery crust that worked fantastically well with the sweet sauce; we wondered if there was a hint of cacao in there providing additional depth of flavour. The selection of fried seafood (frito misto) was sublime – the crispiest of crispy beer batters served with a very moreish sharp, mayonnaise type dressing. The other dish that I really must mention was the pimientos de Wigginton (as opposed to de Padron – Wigginton is a village just outside of York). I’ve never really seen the point of these salty little roasted peppers before, but I couldn’t stop eating these, the flavour was absolutely incredible.

Pigeon breast with chestnut puree

Frito misto, fish cakes and chorizo

All the produce was of a high standard and well cooked even when it didn’t deliver fireworks in the taste department; we both thought that the smoked haddock and celeriac fishcakes were rather under haddocked and the accompanying drizzle of watercress sauce underwhelming. Oh, and the portion of chorizo and potatoes was a little stingy – plenty of luscious, sweet sauce that was crying out for a few more patatas to be squidged into it. We were forced, literally forced, to order a portion of bread for soaking purposes.

It wasn’t Barcelona, and we didn’t wander back through streets that were still shimmering with the warmth of the noonday sun, past the amazing confections of Gaudi’s architecture. And our conversation was not the excited, tentative, wondering talk of two people still in the process of getting to know each other. But for all that, a lovely meal and a restaurant I will definitely be popping back to revisit.

14 Goodramgate
01904 689784


  1. I love tapas - and dim sum even more. Lots of small tastes of things are just the best.


  2. As usual once I've read one of your reviews, I now really want tapas!! And I'm loving the side order of romance...aww

    Lesley xx