Fine dining is, if nothing else, an experience. Put aside the ability and execution presented on the plate, for those who enjoy food (myself more than most) fine dining opens up the opportunity to explore taste, senses and textures beyond our remit. Grays Court has now opened their doors to such experience, offering a tasting and wine matching menu fortnightly for those wanting a flavoursome treat. With a belief that good food and wine is one of life’s simplest yet greatest pleasures, Grays Court is opening up the opportunity for those who know too well that life can often get in the way. For one evening you can relax, drink great wine in even better company and enjoy each morsel.
Entering the elegance of Yorkshire, complete with roaring fireplaces and silhouetted landscapes, we were greeted by canapés of wild mushroom and truffle crepe roulade and hot smoked salmon rillette on Melba toast. These were paired with a glass of Jacques Boncour Brut N.V., a refreshing French champagne to begin our evening. Already these bite size tasters erupted in flavour, subtle yet full, inspiring confidence in what was to come.
Sat in the restaurant our candlelit surroundings were joined by a starter of light Whitby crab served with a tender and subtle watercress and broad bean salad with remoulade dressing. The remoulade dressing had a sharp tang with a lingering aftertaste, offset with our first wine match, Little Rascal Chardonnay (2013), an Australian wine. With the essence of mango and lightness of pear, this fruity yet mellow Chardonnay matched the subtle nature of the dish, easily flowing down the throat to finish off the last bite.
Whilst my own dietary requirements mean I can’t give a personal insight into the meat eater’s offerings, my partner for the night gushed her pleasantries over the Pig Cheek and Leek Terrine she was served for our next course. Accompanied by toasted brioche and apple sauce jelly, the smokey and rich flavours of the dish clearly won her over - the apple sauce jelly being a highlight, bringing an innovative flavour and texture combination to a classic.
My vegetarian counterpart was a smooth pumpkin, braised chicory, asparagus and ricotta terrine with toasted brioche and sharp cherry vine tomato relish, boosting the flavours from the plate. It’s fair to say that no vegetarian should feel neglected when the menu is so playful, with dishes like this showing the benefits of exquisite cooking.
Having been given a choice for the pairing we opted for the Kaiken Terroir Series Torontes (2012), an Argentine wine that was described by the waitress “like wine I’ve never tasted before”. Certainly like no other, our senses were indulged in dark cherry notes, full and fruity rather than tart, with spicy cinnamon undertones and tropical fruit essence, like that off pineapple on the barbecue.
Notably giddy (both from the wine and anticipation for the next course) we were introduced to the first red of our growing wine encyclopaedia, a Pinot Noir, Dom. De Valmoissine, Louis Latour (2012). Elegant and velvety, it was the perfect accompaniment our pristinely presented new course: a platter of assiette of Lamb, rosemary pesto rack, braised shank and mint dressed rump graced the plate. Tender and melting in the mouth, the raison d’être of the course was served with baby vegetables, potato and wild garlic puree.
Similarly my roasted baby sweet pepper stuffed with sundried tomato polenta and artichoke tartlet, was served with a vegetable splendour of spinach and cauliflower crumble and kumera puree. Tart and smokey like chard, the crumble was an awakening, so much so that I pulled the waitress aside to ask her to query the chef, my curiosity on a high. Filling but equally light, I still had just enough room for dessert.
Known for my sweet tooth, my bar for desserts is set high. We’d already been taken on a journey of spice, elegance, subtlety, playful textures and fruity tones, and with the meal coming to an end I was sure there couldn’t be any more surprises. Satisfying the need for comfort, British cooking, and finesse, our custard and baked spice plum flan, topped with a ginger and almond biscuit and served with prune and port puree, was the Catherine wheel of a firework display of food. Sweet like chocolate, the prune and port puree brought a classic childhood favourite to modern maturity. Matched with Campbell’s Rutherglen Muscat NV Halves dessert wine, the taste of Christmas was perfectly bottled.
Finishing off the night with chocolate petit fours, our bellies were full and our heads were blissfully under the influence of a wine collection worthy a raid. Exiting through Grays Court’s mystic entrance encapsulated with a swarm of fairy lights and lanterns, we left our fine dining experience behind with much sorrow, but no regrets.
A changing menu is available fortnightly on Thursday evenings. Arrive at 7pm to be greeted with canapés and champagne before you sit down at 7.30pm to enjoy the evening ahead of you.
Grays Court Tasting Menu and Wine Matching is £70 per head with wine match or £50 per head without. Please note that this is available by reservation only.
Call Grays Court on 01904 612613 to reserve.Food and Drink at Gray's Court