Long-time readers will know that, up until 2012, D and I lived in the beautiful city of York. Although we are now settled in our little corner of North Leeds, it took a long time for me to stop missing my former home. But one thing that Leeds always had going for it over York was the food scene. Beyond the myriad of chain restaurants (presumably there to provide a sense of the familiar to York’s massive tourist population) and the plethora of pubs, there weren’t that many places that I’d recommend to a foodie friend. And the fact that our beloved J. Baker’s Bistro Moderne closed its doors not long after we left seemed like a sign from the universe that our move to Leeds was the right one.
Now, though, it seems as if York is beginning to up its foodie game. Andrew Pern is extending his city empire (of which more in a later post), there is a fabulous looking little street food market tucked away near The Shambles and Skosh has opened its doors to the paying public. As soon as we read Jay Rayner’s rapturous review, we knew that we had to go, a conviction only strengthened by the fact that the head chef there previously cooked at another late lamented friend, Van Zeller’s in Harrogate.
Skosh is situated on Micklegate, home of the Micklegate Run – a string of pubs in close enough proximity that hen parties minimise the risk of falling off their heels while they stagger between them. I would not let this put you off – you generally can’t move for hen parties in York and there is little danger that they will teeter their way into Skosh.
If you were a cynical sort, you might think that the people who designed the place did so by ticking every current trend box they could think of. There is the open kitchen at the back where the chefs toil away in full view of the diners. The menu of small plates rather than courses. An ironic take on an item of fast food. A multitude of global influences. But the minute you actually start to eat, all is forgiven. Because the cooking is really rather wonderful.
We started with a hen’s egg apiece – cheesy froth covering bosky mushrooms and a brief, sour kiss of vinegar. It was the only one of the dishes (according to our waitress) which did not particularly lend itself to sharing and I for one am glad that we got one each – we used our fingers to clean the inner shell of every last delicious smear. Oh, and talking of finger licking – the Skosh fried chicken with brown butter hollandaise was utterly fabulous; if everything was served with brown butter hollandaise, the world would be a better place.
Having had a slightly later and larger lunch than expected, we tried to be restrained with regards ordering but couldn’t resist a dish of mackerel and eel “kabayaki”, one of several dishes which nodded towards Japan. The fish was sticky and sweet and a joy in its own right, but became still further elevated by a swipe through the delicately saline oyster cream. It was undoubtedly a good choice but now, reading back through the menu as I write this, I mourn slightly that I missed out on crisp lamb belly with charred hispi and sumac, and chargrilled octopus with black olive caramel to name but a few.
On to “afters” and we simply couldn’t resist one of the two savouries on offer – a toastie with Baron Bigod brie, winter truffle and pickled turnip. Goodness, but this was a perfect combination. And, finally, a chocolate moelleux accompanied by a miso caramel ice cream which was so good that it reduced us both to silence (and more plate licking). If you are a fan of salted caramel than I urge you to try miso if you see it pop up on a dessert menu – it might sound slightly peculiar but it is utterly delicious.
So there we have it – an excellent new addition to the York restaurant scene (thank you, Mr Rayner for the tip off), which, judging by the busy, buzzy atmosphere when we were there is going down pretty well. Great news for York – and the perfect excuse for those of us who miss the place to travel back there even more regularly.