Legacy at The Grand York – Restaurant Review

legacy grand york restaurant review interior

By Roger Crow

Forget whiskers on kittens and bright copper kettles. If I had to choose some of my favourite things, it would be food, art and beautiful surroundings. Or to put it another way, the good old tasting menu. Obviously it’s saved for special occasions, but those rare, mouthwatering events are all the more precious – when done right.

I’ve had a soft spot for The Grand York since my first visit in January 2017 when I ate like a king. Even cooking on their premises in 2020 was one of my fondest memories of the past few years. All of which preamble brings us full circle to a rain-lashed night in late November.

It’s one of the busiest weeks of the year and all Team Crow want to do is crash out in front of game shows and jungle-based escapism. But the offer to try Legacy, a fine dining experience at The Grand, has been on the cards for weeks now, and after much juggling of schedules, this is THE night.

Legacy is like that wardrobe in a Lion and Witch-related literary classic: step through those elegant doors, and you’re transported to another dimension.

legacy grand york restaurant review exterior


And so it begins. The room is relatively small, beautifully furnished and intimate. It has as many covers as Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s debut album, and it’s not long before we start to relax in the ultimate pleasure dome… okay room.

Elegant decor, terrific choice of non-invasive music, splendid, attentive service from Alex, who introduces alternate dishes with care and a glint in her eye, which suggests: ‘Wait until you try this!’

Then there’s Derek Scaife, Restaurant Manager and a sommelier like no other. His knowledge of wines is vast and seemingly infinite. I hope that knowledge will be absorbed like osmosis as I take a sip of this and that, but the riches of his paired wines are mostly enjoyed by Rachel, who is not a big wine drinker, though paroxysms of delight wash over her face at each new glass convey the wonders within. And like any wine-lover knows, when it comes to unlocking waves of new flavours in your food, the right tipple can be the perfect key.

The Zuccardi Valles – a fortified Malbec from Argentina – is especially good, partly because of the vibrant plum and raspberry flavours, but mainly because it ticks that dessert wine box that anyone with a sweet tooth will love.

Not that I feel left out, enjoying a non-alcoholic mojito with one course and later the most delicious fruit punch.

legacy grand york restaurant review dish

“Perfectly paced”

And oh those courses, starting with warm, perfectly formed salty Parkerhouse rolls, infused with butter, like brioche. Slathered in more expertly crafted cultured and goats herb butters, it’s like an angel weeping on your tongue.

It’s a Paul Hollywood handshake in bread form on the most elegant plates. And that’s just the bread for heaven’s sake.

What follows is an array of breathtaking, palate-pleasing dishes, each one a riot of delicate flavours. The roof of my mouth usually feels like it’s been sandpapered after some dishes in other restaurants, but throughout the night it’s mercifully pampered.

The Jerusalem artichoke with Wensleydale and parsley root is proof of how tasty veg can be if treated with care. The hand-dived Orkney scallops with smoked eel and verjus did set my alarm bells ringing when I saw it on the menu, but like every dish, it’s a delight on the tongue.

Celeriac with black garlic and truffle is a joy, as is the halibut with cauliflower with mousseline sauce. And the bite-sized portions means there’s none of that bloated feeling. Just perfectly paced taste sensations, which is the sort of tongue-twister worth trying after a few glasses of perfectly chosen wine. As for the venison with blackberry and lapsing smoked haunch, the meat is so tender, it almost melts on the tongue.

legacy grand york restaurant review veggie

“Extra mile”

As an amuse-bouche for the final course, spiced plum with gingerbread and earl grey would not be my first choice of dish, but that intense flavour is incredible. Plum? Spiced? To paraphrase Peter Kay, it’s a taste sensation.

I finish with grand honey, which has been harvested from The Grand’s own beehive on the roof. With yuzu and elderflower, it the perfect end to the most outstanding meal, not least because of a delicate honeycomb wafer which looks like it’s been 3D printed.

Now if there’s one keyword about life in 2022, it’s inclusivity. Every element of society rightly wants to be respected, and the much-maligned vegetarian has long been sold short by some of the greatest restaurants. As great as London’s Boxwood Cafe tasting menu was for me in 2008, their veggie dishes left a lot to be desired back then.

So Rachel, who has been with me on most of the six-year culinary odyssey is in no doubt this is THE best restaurant for the array of perfectly prepared veggie dishes, and, most importantly, that feeling of not being an afterthought; the chef making do with yet another risotto (the default dish for cooks who have little imagination). Take a bow Head Chef Ahmed Abdalla for going the extra mile.

Her variations, including beetroot ravioli with candy beet and ribblesdale goats cheese, and butternut squash with spiced lentils and cashew crumb, are a delight.

legacy grand york restaurant review fish

“Exciting and beautiful”

There is a problem with every dish: they are so beautifully presented, it seems a crime to eat them. Take photos, yes. Frame them in an airtight container, maybe, but even the oyster on a platform of ice looks like it belongs in the Tate. And oh the oyster. Can’t say I have a lot of them, but this is out of this world with a malt vinegar chaser enhancing the flavour.

The evening flies by. We sit down at 7pm and it’s 10.30pm by the time we wrap things up with perfect cappuccinos and espressos. Oh, and the most exquisite madeleines, pastilles and marshmallow.

Ahmed and his team have done a PHENOMENAL job of catering for one of Yorkshire’s fussiest vegetarians, while my jaded palate has woken up again after months of hit-and-miss dishes. Food should be this diverse, exciting and beautiful, and the fact it’s at one of the UK’s greatest hotels is such a bonus.

So, after several years of restaurant reviews, pondering which is the greatest for both of us, there is a new joint winner; the top of the tree in terms of choice, flavour, presentation and above all, that attention to under-represented vegetarians.

Thanks Ahmed and Alex. Cheers Derek. And thank you The Grand York. What a Legacy.

Aptly named as it’s something we’ll never forget.

Legacy at The Grand, York, Station Rise, North Yorkshire, YO1 6GD
DINNER: Wednesday – Saturday, 18:30 – 20:30
LUNCH: Saturday, 12:00 – 14:00


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