Restaurant 92, Harrogate – Review
By Katie Leon
After hearing a lot about Michael Carr and Restaurant 92, I was really looking forward to visiting the restaurant named after the year the chef and owner was born. Having won ‘Chef of the Year’ for the second year running at the Harrogate Hospitality and Tourism awards earlier this month, there could not be a better time to get down there and see what he has to offer.
Arriving at the restaurant, we were greeted by our waiter for the evening, David Rodriquez. David won ‘Waiter of the Year’ at the same awards and, after offering to take our coats and showing us to our table, he introduced himself and told us about the history of the restaurant, the chef and the accolades that they have collected. David explained that he has worked with Michael from when the restaurant first opened – and his loyalty and passion was evident as he spoke about the journey that they had been on and their achievements.
David explained the menus available, which today were the tasting menu, vegetarian tasting menu and a la carte. What really stood out to me was the flexibility of the menus. The tasting menu itself allowed you to choose a main course, which is unusual for a tasting menu. David also explained that some of the dishes in the a la carte menu could be swapped in.
“Ready to push boundaries”
We opted for the five course tasting menu with wine pairings. The first dish on the menu contained egg yolk, which I have an intolerance to. I asked David if I could have the dish without the egg yolk. After speaking to Michael, David explained that the egg yolk is needed for the texture of the dish and offered me a new dish that had been added to the menu two days ago, which I was delighted to accept. I really liked the integrity of the chef, sticking to what he knows works for the dish rather than changing it to suit. I thought it bold, confident and ambitious to try out such a new dish, which explains how he has achieved so much by the age of 26. In my opinion, Michael isn’t here to play it safe, he is creative and ready to push boundaries.
We were brought a bread course which consisted of chicken fat brioche buns and a beef fat butter, Taramasalata topped with crispy onions and a basket of different breads and crispbreads. The bread was warm, tasty and delightfully seasoned. The butter was delicious and very moreish.
The décor of the restaurant is modern yet homely. It’s modest and tasteful with neutral colours and a mix of textures, highlighted with Copper elements. From our seat, we were able to see David preparing one of the restaurants specialities, the Beef Wellington. This is taken and carved specially by David.
“Real taste of summer”
Next, we enjoyed some Canapés, the highlight for me being the truffle Arancini balls – amazing! Having experienced the standard of the bread and Canapés, we couldn’t wait to see where this was going!
First from the menu was ‘Lobster Carbonara’. This was swapped for me for a scallop dish with Yorkshire tomatoes, Fettle, Smoke Brandade and Seaweed dressing. The dish was an array of flavours, colours and textures. I’m usually the first to complain if I think a dish is unnecessarily over-complicated and clashing, however, the mix of elements really complimented each other. I was excited to make my way around the dish taking in the sweet and the salty, the crunchy and the melt in your mouth.
The Scallops were incredible – the best scallops I’ve ever tasted. This dish for me was a particular highlight, a real taste of summer. Being the first dish, this was our introduction to the wine pairing. What I really liked to see was that the wine pairing had been changed to match my dish which deviated from the menu, showing true dedication to the wine pairing craft. Here we met the Sommelier who has an incredibly expansive and detailed knowledge about wines. Throughout the menu, he talked at length about regions, grapes, temperatures and tasting notes. It is clear that he has a wealth of knowledge and it was really interesting to hear about the wines. My wine pairing for this dish was a beautiful sparkling White wine.
“Small things make a big difference”
The second dish was another starter type of slow braised Yorkshire lamb belly. This came with a deliciously rich soy sauce glaze and was topped with a pea salad. It came with asparagus and an anchovy emulsion topped with onion powder. When the plate arrived, the smell that came from it was incredible. The wine pairing for this was a delicious deep red.
Next came the main course. This is where you had a choice from a selection of stone bass, air dried Yorkshire duck or butter poached corn fed chicken. I opted for the duck. It arrived, perfectly cooked, accompanied by yeasted broccoli and celeriac, celeriac mousse and broccoli custard and a ‘cigar’ filled with shredded duck. The duck itself was topped with fois gras shavings. The dish came with an accompanying sauce and I liked that the waitress asked me if she could pour it on. Small things like this make a big difference, offering the customer the chance to control how much sauce is added. The wine pairing for this dish was fascinating. It was a light coloured red and it smelled and tasted like no other wine I’ve had before. It had a real savoury scent and almost a spirit-like taste. Each time I took a sip, the flavour changed a little, it was a really interesting wine.
The final dish was dessert. This was ‘Gariguette Strawberry’, it consisted of a strawberry chutney, sorrel Ice cream, basil, fresh mint leaves and the gem of the dish in my opinion, balsamic shards. These shards had a real zing, a lovely acidic element to balance out the sweetness of the strawberry chutney. The wine pairing for this dish was a beautiful dessert wine that was rich in apricot flavours.
Each dish was explained in detail by the waitress. The staff work together in perfect harmony as the sommelier brings and explains the wine first then the waiter/waitress brings and explains the dish. The pace of the menu was spot on, which is hard to achieve. I’ve had tasting menus when the dishes have all arrived on top of each other, barely giving time to digest it. I’ve also had tasting menus when the gap between dishes is so long I’ve lost interest by the time it arrives.
“Blew me away”
If a Michelin star is what Michael desires then I have every belief that he will get one. I’ve eaten in many Michelin star establishments and this meal was up there with the best of them and significantly better than some other Michelin menus that I’ve had.
It’s been a long time since every dish on a menu blew me away. I found the menu to be so refreshing, coming across ingredients and techniques that I’ve not seen before. When you’ve had a lot of tasting menus, it becomes harder to be pleasantly surprised. Restaurant 92 is the place I’ve been waiting for and I hope it’s here to stay. My advice would be to book now while you can get a table.
Restaurant 92, 94 Station Parade, Harrogate, HG1 1HQ
Wed & Thu 12pm-2:30pm, 5:30pm-9.30pm
Friday 1pm-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10pm
Saturday 12pm-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10pm