Van Zeller – top notch food in Harrogate
Readers will be familiar with the name van Zeller in the context of my Douro wine and port reports – Cristiano van Zeller heads up Quinta Vale Dona Maria and I selected two of his wines among my 50 Great Portuguese Wines. So, when my folks suggested we have lunch at Van Zeller Restaurant on a visit to Yorkshire last December, it seemed like a good idea to me – and it was!
We visited my folks again at Easter and van Zeller featured on our itinerary once more. So impressed am I at Tom van Zeller’s culinary output, that I wanted to share this Harrogate restaurant’s details with you. Rarely – in fact never – have I encountered a chef so excited by the prospect of diverting from his set course lunch to accomodate two non-meaters. Quite the opposite in fact. He personally came to our table to share his veggie thoughts. What’s more, because the only fish main course involved a hefty mark up of £19 on the set lunch price (a steal at £20 for 3 courses and an amuse), van Zeller offered us plaice or hake instead of turbot – most thoughtful and fair.
Anyway, even my food-loving dad who has long lamented my decision not to eat meat didn’t bother to try and “tempt” me with his food having tasted my barley risotto with carrot puree starter. Readers, I will be trying that one at home. Apparently van Zeller shows the barley the pan to toast it, then adds the shallots off the heat together with some wild garlic before working in the nage and, finally, marscapone cheese. Presentation is beautiful – uplifting, not fussy and, when substance outlives style – van Zeller’s dishes are long on flavour – what’s not to like?
I just read the restaurant’s website and discovered that van Zeller is backed by David Moore, owner of London’s 3 Michelin starred Pied a Terre and it’s younger sister resto L’Autre Pied – makes sense! Oh, and I almost forgot to say, the wine list is perky, pitched at a contemporary rather than classical crowd. Last time we had Marques de Riscal Reserva Limousin Rueda Blanco, an oaked blend of Verdejo and Viura, this time Lawson’s Dry Hills Pinot Gris from Marlborough, New Zealand. Though they don’t list Cristiano’s wines, I reckon the other Mr van Zeller would be very happy to get a foot in the door here.