Fisk, Harrogate

I booked Fisk for a special lunch for my hubby’s birthday. I was not disappointed. The restaurant is small, in a cosy way and not at all cramped. It was very quiet as it was a Thursday afternoon. We were greeted by a friendly member of staff who looked after us really well throughout. He had the perfect balance of being visible but not hovering weirdly. Which is difficult to achieve in such a small venue. The decor is modern and chic. I imagine it’s an even better environment in the evening, when you can’t see the launderette and chippy etc over the road.

We were pleasantly surprised to receive an amuse bouche. It was a spicy prawn bases ball with a tangy sauce underneath, reminiscent of a Thai fishcake. For main we both had lobster accompanied by Pol Roger champagne. You can choose your style of lobster. I went for lightly spiced and and hubby went for spicy south Asian. Both were delicious and a decent amount of lobster. Both came accompanied by diced potatoes and salad. The total bill came to £60 plus service charge. For a less decadent option, they also do a set lunch menu of 3 courses for £22, Monday to Friday.

I really enjoyed it and would definitely consider returning if I was in Harrogate in the future.

Atmosphere 8/10
Quality 9/10
Service 9/10
Value 9/10
Unique 9/10
Overall 9/10

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Hessian, Oakwood, Leeds

I recently stopped off at the new Hessian cafe for a cappuccino, just to have a nosy at the new addition to Oakwood parade. After browsing the menus and meeting a member of staff there, I knew I would be returning.

Bank holiday weekend seemed like the perfect time to try it out for lunch. We were greeted by warm and welcoming staff. It was great to see a familiar smiley face from Sunshine Bakery amongst the staff crew, I hope he will be a permanent fixture. Hessian is only a small venue and it was bank holiday but I was pleasantly surprised to see how busy it was in there. I love that the menus are small, less pressure on the staff means better quality produce. The food is everything I love, healthy, hearty and wholesome. I love the Mediterranean theme.

I really like the decor and the feel of the place. The small dining area in front of the open plan kitchen has a real cosy, living room feel to it. The only drawback of this is that it is quite cramped and when it’s busy it can get really loud. The chef had a system where he rang the bell when a dish was ready for service to collect. It was so bustling in there that the waiting staff kept missing the bell.

We drew the short straw somewhat with the service. One of the best things about Hessian is the staff team. They are smiley, friendly, helpful and just the right level of chatty. Apart from the man who was serving us unfortunately. He was pleasant enough but it really seemed like he’d rather be anywhere else but there. I had ordered a salad that came with grains, when the salad came there were no grains. I raised this with our waiter and he seemed surprised, went away and came back and said “We ran out of grains, that’s why there weren’t any”. I can think of better, more apologetic ways of putting that message across. I believe a good staff team communicates and the waiting staff and chef should work together to ensure that everyone knows what is and isn’t available before the customer orders. I heard other customers order things and their waiter/waitress knew what was and wasn’t available. There did seem to be quite a lot of things they had run out of but they are new, it was a busy bank holiday and it was late in the afternoon. Overall, the rest of the staff are lovely and fit in well with the welcoming attitudes shown in the other venues on Oakwood parade.

I ordered the grilled halloumi salad which comes with super grains (if you’re lucky), avocado, leaves, roasted red peppers and honey and mustard dressing. My husband ordered Jamon, picante cheese, roasted red pepper and pesto grilled melt. We were both happy with our food. We had ordered polenta wedges but they had run out and in the end we were nicely full anyway. One thing to keep in mind is that they serve the food when it’s ready so you may not eat at the same time, we didn’t. I’m assuming that is usual practice but I’m not sure. Our waited didn’t mention it but as mentioned, he wasn’t exactly on the ball. I also noticed that they offer gluten free bread, always a bonus in my book.

We had some lovely drinks. A nice beer, gin and tonic and a gorgeous espresso martini. I’ve had great espresso martinis and I’ve had some awful ones and this one was definitely up there with the good’uns. The drinks are quite reasonably priced too, £5 for a prosecco, around £7 for a cocktail or gin and tonic.

Overall, I really like Hessian and hope it stays around. I can’t wait to come back for the evening menu and to sample some cakes. I did notice a message on their Facebook page apologising for not offering ‘the full Hessian experience’ over the bank holiday weekend. I think that’s fair enough and goes to show that they are a staff team that care.

Atmosphere 8.5/10
Quality 8.5/10
Service 8.5/10 (based on overall from both visits)
Value 8/10
Unique 8/10
Overall 8.5/10

Edinburgh: Di Giorgio Caffe and Bar

Okay so I know Edinburgh isn’t exactly up the road if you live in Yorkshire but I had to write about this place. If you find yourself up there, it’s well worth a visit!

Walking back to my grandparents house from the botanical gardens, I was ready for lunch and spotted this place on the corner. It doesn’t look remarkably striking from the outside, but something was drawing me towards it, so we decided to give it a go. I’m so glad we did.

The first thing I noticed once inside was that it was deceptively larger than I had anticipated. The next thing was the counter full of divine looking sweet treats. I knew I was in the right place. Within seconds of entering, a smiley lady welcomed us and offered us a seat. Before we could take our coats off we heard the clunk of two complimentary glasses of water hitting the table. These glasses were regularly refilled by the staff. The decor was lovely; modern, crafty and homely. I nestled myself into the several scatter cushions on my bench seat and perused the menu. I chose the warm chicken salad and my husband chose the chicken and salami ciabatta with handcooked chips. Those chips were immense! Everything looked and tasted wonderful and filled the hole nicely. We both also ordered a hazelnut coffee. As you would expect in any Italian establishment worth it’s salt, the coffee was gorgeous.

What makes this place is the attention to detail. It’s not a massive place but they have really made the most of it and created a cosy atmosphere. Even the toilet was a pleasure to be in! You will have to go to see what I mean. Most outstanding is the staff. Reasonably busy, the staff still take time to chat to their customers. We had a pleasant conversation with one lady about our plans for the evening and our time in Edinburgh. The whole experience felt like having lunch with a friend in their living room.

I can’t wait to return here next time I come to Edinburgh and I will certainly be sampling the cakes next time! I get the feeling this place is going to be a must every time I’m in the fabulous city of Edinburgh.

Atmosphere 10/10
Quality 9/10
Service 10/10
Value 8.5/10
Unique 9/10
Overall 9.5/10