Nineteen is set at the end of a cobbled street in the heart of the city. The restaurant is quaint and intimate, with only 6 tables on the bottom floor. The roof is low, with beautiful wooden beams stretched across the ceiling. There were some lovely little candles lit, and as the sun began to set, the restaurant absorbed the candlelight and cast a relaxed, dim glow over everything.
We were seated at a table for four, at the window. It was great to watch the world go by, whilst having a look at the menu. The menu isn't expansive, which I was a little apprehensive about. I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy what I was ordering, as the dishes available were concoctions that I would never have considered. What I did learn is that the chef is flawless at what he does, so the menu doesn't need to be massive. I can assure you that although the dishes offered aren't 'the usual', it was truly great to try something new - and to fall in love with it. Plus all the produce is sourced locally, so you know that it is going to be of a high standard.
For a starter, I decided to go for the home-made crab ravioli with chive and tomato butter.
At first, I was disheartened to see the size of the portion. After I had tasted it, I was even more disheartened as I wanted more! This is in no way a criticism, as by the end of my meal I was fit to burst. The crab meat was safely tucked inside the fresh pasta parcel, drizzled with chunks of juicy tomato and chives. Crab meat is slightly salty, and not very fishy. It was a delicious starter, and I could have eaten a whole bowlful of it!
My sister and father both went for Moules Mariniere (mussels in a creamy garlic and white wine sauce).
Should I (or when I) visit Nineteen again, I shall order these. Each mussel was so plump and meaty, the flavour was just outstanding. The creamy, garlic sauce was drenching each mussel so there was never a lack of taste with each bite. Mussels can sometimes smell/taste really fishy, which puts me off! It is safe to say that these were cooked to perfection, and a delight to eat.
Mark decided to order the leek, blue cheese and pickled walnut tart, dressed with home-made apple chutney and salad leaves.
|Leek, Blue Cheese & Pickled Walnut Tart|
I will be honest and say that before visiting Nineteen, I wouldn't have even thought about this as an option. Mark is quite a fussy eater, and when he said "This is unlike anything I've ever eaten before" (and saying it in a good way!) it changed my mind. The rich blue cheese aroma was amazing, coupled with the mellow tang of leeks was delicious, and needless to say the plate was cleared!
For the main course, both my sister and I decided to have the slow braised ox cheek, served with creamy mash, a red onion tartlet, root vegetables, bacon crisp and mushroom duxelle, all coated in a lovely rich jus. (Please note that I asked for mine without the mushroom duxelle - I hate mushrooms!)
|Slow Braised Ox Cheek|
Oh. Oh my God. This meal was DELICIOUS. The lean braised ox cheek was so tender, it literally fell apart when my fork entered it. The meat was juicy, and soaked in the rich jus, so each bite was packed with flavour. The root vegetables were cooked al dente, so had a slight crunch. The red onion tartlet was sweet on top, and savoury on the bottom - a perfect companion to the rich beefy flavour of the ox cheek! The fragment of bacon was salty, smoky and incredibly crunchy. It crunched apart like glass when you cut it, but it was easy to eat. Definitely try this if you're a meat eater!
My dad - the carnivore that I take after - ordered the signature char-grilled rib-eye steak, served with mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, triple cooked chips and garlic butter.
|Char-grilled Rib Eye Steak|
As a fillet fan myself, I was surprised to find that I enjoyed this. The signature char-grilled flavour was definitely present, as it is a steak that hasn't tasted like any other! The triple cooked chips were crisp on the outside, whilst the potato was feather-like inside. Served in a pretty stack, these chips were amazing, and definitely co-starred in this dish! Unfortunately this photo was taken nearer the sun going down - my natural light source was taken from me!
With my main meal, I decided to have a glass of wine. I am a Rose wine connoisseur, so I was distraught when I found their only Rose wine available by the glass was tart and dry. My dad found a red wine that was meant to be fruity - and whadday'know, I loved it. It's called Carignan Vin De France La Cadence 2011, should you wish to try it - it's fruity, smooth and very light!
|Tasty Red Wine!|
Finally, Mark ordered Winter vegetable bread and butter pudding. This was served with blue cheese cream, pickled apple and sweet walnut.
|Winter Vegetable Bread & Butter Pudding|
Again, not something I would have ordered, until I managed to snaffle a bit. This dish is really packing some amount of flavour, especially considering it doesn't have any meat in it! Each bite is a mixture of sweet, rich, creamy and savoury; the texture changes from crunchy to soft. It was truly beautiful and I would urge the more adventurous eaters to perhaps try it.
The plates were cleared, and I knew I wanted a dessert. The dessert menu is again small, but after the extravagant dishes we had, I was sure that the calibre of food was only going to get better. No surprises then, that it in fact did!
I decided to get something indulgent: a bitter chocolate tart, served with goats milk panna cotta and marmalade sorbet.
|Bitter Chocolate Tart with Goats Milk Panna Cotta & Marmalade Sorbet|
Can I just say, that this has to be one of the desserts I've ever eaten. Ever. The chocolate tart was so rich, smooth and warm, encased in a lovely, slightly sweet, pastry case. The goats milk panna cotta was creamy, mellow and had a hint of vanilla. Ever so slightly gloopy (in a fabulous way) and thick, it was a great accompaniment for the tart. Second to the tart, the marmalade sorbet stole the show. A citrus, but not tangy, sorbet which was coupled with slices of mandarin and zest. All together, this was perfection. Not one complaint.
My sister and my dad went for the same dessert, and a personal favourite for them both - sticky toffee pudding, served with Baileys foam and whisky ice cream.
|Sticky Toffee Pudding, Baileys Foam & Whisky Ice Cream|
The sponge was warmed, and also soaked through with an incredibly sweet toffee sauce. The sauce itself was thick and gloopy (again, in a good way) and was perfect. The whisky ice cream was also sweet, but not sickly. The Baileys foam was absolutely delicious, and so perfectly matched to this dessert.
Mark's dessert was actually someone similar to his main. He ordered the apple and cinnamon bread and butter pudding, served with stem ginger ice cream and Calvados Creme Anglaise.
|Apple & Cinnamon Bread & Butter Pudding|
This pudding really went down a treat. A thick, sweet bread pudding served warm with the most fragrant aroma of anything on the table. Creme Anglaise is a fancier custard, and Calvados is an apple brandy. Combine the two, and you have a very tasty topping for your bread and butter pudding!
We always like to try and guess the bill before it comes out, and whoever is closest wins... well nothing, but they have the glory of knowing they were right. So the guesses came in - £200, £230...£250? Nay to all of these! Try £165. Yes, for four people, each having three courses, two glasses of wine, a beer, and soft drinks, this was our bill. Utterly fantastic value for money, and each of us were achingly full.
Get yourselves to York, immerse yourself in the wonderful history of the city, and make sure you have a table booked for Nineteen afterwards.
19 Grape Lane
Tel: 01904 636366
Wheelchair access: No