Friday, 10 February 2012

The Blue Bicycle - York

So for Birthday Meal part two I wanted to go somewhere a bit different. I really like York as a city and there are some lovely places to go out for meals. The blue bicycle was suggested by a work colleague, the interesting menu and the fact that this place used to be a brothel really intrigued me.

It's about a 10-15minute stroll from the train station and although it appears to be on one of the quieter streets of York it's not far away from the hubbub of other restaurants and bars if you fancy a drink afterwards.

We pre-booked a week in advance to ensure that we could get a table on a Saturday night. The only reservations they could offer were 6.30pm and 9.00pm... We could have had a booth (bed - see further down) but there was a 2 hour cap on the table... and we don't like to be rushed. We decided to book the 6.30pm slot as the last train home is 11.15pm.

We were greeted immediately as we walked in and gave our reservation. There is seating on the ground floor and I remember thinking this doesn't look at all like the website... we were then led away from the diners on the ground floor to a spiral staircase which takes you down to the basement.. or the boudoir. It's much more cosy down here and you get the feel for how it must have been when it was a fully functioning office of love.

Once downstairs we were led to a very small table for two. The tables are quite close together so the element of romance is slightly taken away from with the fact that your almost dining with those next to and behind you.

The wine menu as you would hope is quite extensive, and quite expensive. I chose a Pinot Grigio (So predictable!). We also asked for some water for the table which came in a jug and served in blue glasses. My wine went down a treat and did a splendid job at trying to soothe my ever annoying cough.

Once we had ordered we were brought some bread by the waitress... which is served in plant pots, and from what I could tell baked in them too. Alongside the planted bread we were given boiled garlic and stone cold butter. The garlic smelt amazing, but how we were supposed to get it on our bread was beyond us (and the table next to us too) I tried melting my butter on it in the hope of spreading either on my bread but that didn't really work.

For starters my dining partner ordered the Little Lamb Shank Wellington with celeriac puree rosemary and garlic jus. I was so jealous of their starter. It broke away so delicately was packed full of lamb and looked pretty too!

For my starter I decided to try something I had never tried before. This was a bit of an error, and I shouldn't have really done this on my birthday... For a starter I chose Peal Barley and oyster mushroom 'risotto' with Yorkshire blue cheese and cress salad. It looked awful. It smelt awful. It tasted awful. I know that it is very possible that this may be my own preferences coming in to play but I really didn't like it. The texture was awful in my mouth, the barley was chewy and was sort of floating around in a watery gruel. The cheese didn't help either such a strong cheese on such a bland dish just didn't do it for me. If you have had something similar to this please advise if mine sounds/looks like it should be. Although I still don't think I will ever order anything like it again.

For mains DP ordered Pan-fried fillet of Cod, which comes with Pea and Yorkshire Black Pudding Pasty, Potato Fondant, and Carrot and Ginger Marmalade. This was very well presented. I tried a bit of their cod and it was cooked to perfection. They also really enjoyed their Yorkshire black pudding pasty it was jam packed with good quality black pudding.

For my main I made a much better choice than my starter, I ordered Pan-Fried breast of grain-fed chicken, Pork and Sage farce, potato rosti, confit onions and chestnut curd. Apologies for the picture I know you cant see a lot, it was very dark in this restaurant and our table was so small it was hard to arrange myself in the best light! The chicken was lovely and moist with a crispy skin. The pork and sage farce was very nice but incredibly filling and I had to leave some of it. The chestnut curd was absolutely divine I couldn't get enough of it! The potato rosti was just okay I felt it was a little burnt on top and not quite cooked enough in the middle. Overall however I liked my main dish.

Always afraid in new restaurants that we wont have enough to eat... we ordered a side of chips. They tasted just like my mum's homemade chips. Lovely with some salt and vinegar. We didn't each many as our mains were quite filling after all.

We shared a dessert and decided to go for the Mint Chocolate Fondant with whipped vanilla mascapone cream and praline crisp. This was relatively small to share between the two of us but luckily we were both reasonably full anyway. I felt that the fondant was perhaps a tad too baked.. there was a lot of sponge to get through before you got the the oozing chocolate and it didn't ooze too much either. The praline crisp was nice but a little difficult with each in such solid pieces, it kept sticking to my teeth and was really hard. It was a nice dish but I would have expected a little more considering the price.

I've mentioned briefly about the decor... below you can see a picture of one of the booths/beds (with my arm partially in there too) they are very small and we were very close to our stand alone table. The top lip of the booth has a cushion reinforced in to it as I expect many a waiter/waitress has banged their head serving food. They had to stoop quite a bit to serve the meals.

There was a live musician whilst we were there who provided some great background music. He was right next to us in another little alcove but wasn't so loud that we couldn't hear each other speak. He played a range of older and newer songs tailored to his own style. I really enjoyed this aspect of the meal and feel more restaurants, if they can, should do this (but taking care with the volume).

The whole place was decorated in a running theme of it being an 1900's brother turned bistro with chaise longs and naked women everywhere.

The bill came to a £82, service charge is added automatically but it does say that if you don't want to pay this you just need to ask and they will take it off... this is always a bit awkward to do in my opinion, and something they probably realise most people wont do due to this. I'd rather restaurants let their customers decide upon the tip they wish to leave. The service was OK, we were waited on by about 3 different people. One lady was a bit too in my face after I had left most of my starter specifically asking me if everything was okay with my dish, I felt rather embarrassed by this and just mumbled it was fine. One of the male waiters was very friendly and attentive and always had a smile on his face.

Overall I did enjoy the meal, I definitely felt we were paying for the novelty, for this reason I don't think we will be rushing back in a hurry. If the food was just a little bit better I would have had no issues paying that much for a meal for two, but there were certain little things that let them down. Such as rock hard butter which is never going to spread on soft freshly baked bread.

To end the post...

Here is a picture of me from that night stood in front of a fountain not far from the restaurant.

The Blue Bicycle

34 Fossgate
North Yorkshire

They also do hotel rooms if you are planning on staying over night and you want somewhere different and close to the city centre.  See their website for more details on the 'Blue Rooms'.

Blue Bicycle on Urbanspoon