So how do you top such amazing feasts? It's simple - you book to go to Ate O' Clock.
Set back from the street, you walk through a magical alleyway filled with flowers, brightly coloured chalk boards and mini street lamp lighting. The place has an almost "Alice in Wonderland" meets Narnia feel to it, and it is wonderful.
The restaurant is somewhat small, but spaced out enough that you're not eating your dinner out of another guests hood. There are stunning big clocks all over the walls stopped at 8pm - luckily, they also provide a working clock so you don't feel like it's Groundhog hour. They also had some French vintage decor, which really gave a homely feel to the place.
Behind us on the wall, there was the biggest specials board I have ever cast my eyes on. So many starters and main courses to choose from, and this was on top of the huge selection in the menu. I decided to choose something easier first, so looked at the wine list...
The top picture is of my delicious red wine (which I'm really starting to adore again). Unfortunately the menu online differs slightly and it doesn't have my ruby beauty on it, however I believe it was along the lines of Aspen something-or-other. It had a good warmth to it, with a hint of cherries and chocolate. Perfection with my starter (which I am about to reveal!). My sister ordered the Pinot Grigio, bottom picture, as she likes hers dry and bitter.
Menus were shut. Napkins were unwrapped. Waitresses appeared. The choices had been made, and I could not have been more excited. To begin, I went with truffle infused brie, served with spiced strawberry chutney and toasted sliced bread.
I was enthralled, and then some, with this starter. I have an unhidden fondness for melted cheese, and this was right on the money. The brie was warm and dripped off of the warm, crusty bread. The spiced strawberry chutney was surprisingly delicious, and was a match made in heaven for the cheese. I couldn't taste any truffle in the brie, but I wasn't disappointed as quite frankly I was in my element regardless. A wonderful starter that I'd be sure to order again and again.
My sister and father went for the Marinieres mussels...
I tried one of the mussels, and they were just perfect. Fresh, meaty and coated in a luscious creamy sauce. The portion was also massive; it's a rare day when my dad is the last to finish his courses! These mussels were perfection, and not a scrap was left.
Mark decided to go for marinated Mediterranean vegetable tart, garnished with toasted pine nuts...
When asked to describe his starter, the response I got was "I'm not being funny, but it tastes Mediterranean." Thank you for that Mark. He did say though that it was delicious, and not a crumb was left on his plate. Perfect for the vegetarians or light eaters!
Once our plates were cleared, I was ready to devour my main course. A nice surprise we got was that they have a man who sings live. He has a lovely voice, and really set a calming, relaxed atmosphere for all of the diners. I was so busy listening to him and chatting away, I nearly forgot how hungry I was. Until my Gressingham duck breast coated in a red wine gravy, with a red onion tart and dauphinoise potatoes was set in front of me...
I did enjoy this meal. The duck was cooked to a perfect pink, meaning that it retained its succulence. The dauphinoise were fluffy, coated in a dreamy, creamy cheese sauce and baked to a golden crisp on top. The red onion tart was a bit odd - it was literally half an onion baked into a pastry case. I did expect a bit more, perhaps the red onions to be caramelised and filling the pastry to add a sweetness. The duck was beautiful, however the dish as a whole was a bit bland for me. I hoped for a bit more punch from the concoction before me. I still really did enjoy it, but I would perhaps order something else from the menu.
My father, true to carnivore style, went for the sirloin steak, with peppercorn sauce, a side of chunky chips and a mini colander stuffed full of vegetables...
This steak was simply beautiful. I don'y like my meat cooked well done, but even I could have scoffed the full thing and not made one criticism. The chips were absolutely amazing; so fluffy and flavoursome, served in their own cute little basket. I loved the mini colander that the vegetables came in, I thought it was a brilliant aesthetic to have!
Mark ordered the roasted pork fillet filled with smoky chorizo, sun blushed tomatoes, served on a bed of wild mushroom risotto, and garnished with apple compote...
This dish smelt fantastic, even though we know I have a keen dislike for mushrooms. Mark raved about the mini apple-esque fruits atop the pork, which he said were amazing. Again, a cleared plate and happy face to mirror those around him.
I said further back that there was a man who serenaded the diners. Well, I had said to my family that I really wanted to hear "Vincent" by Don McLean, as it was one of my favourite songs. Needless to say, as I tucked into one of the best desserts I've ever had, when I heard the soft guitar music playing my song, officially Ate O' Clock topped the ranks for favourite restaurant in York.
My dessert was a chocolate truffle tart, served with vanilla ice cream in a brandy snap basket and a berry compote...
I was in Heaven. This truffle tart was one of the best things to happen to me this weekend, and it's no word of a lie. The chocolate truffle was almost mousse like, with a light texture but a densely rich and chocolatey taste. Based on a crumbling pastry base, it was sumptuous. The ice cream and fruit compote really just rounded it off for me. I didn't particularly like the flavour of the basket, however it is such a small part of what was a perfect dessert. I'd have eaten fifty times the amount I got, given the chance.
My sister and father both ordered the Limoncello trifle, which I have to say was outstanding...
This was unlike any trifle I had ever tried. I usually thought of the soggy, pathetic attempts you see at church outings or going for sixty pence in Asda. This was as light as air, with a gentle lemon taste. The whole dessert was crafted to sheer perfection, and I cannot stress enough how beautiful this was. I prefer chocolate, but I could have eaten this dessert too without so much as a look of hesitation.
After our beautiful 3 course meal, we enjoyed the sounds of the singer, the happy chatter of surrounding diners and relaxed into the dim glow of the lights. It was a perfect evening, with friendly staff who couldn't have been more genuinely happy to serve you.
The bill, I hear you cry. Four starters, four main courses, three desserts, two glasses of wine and a man who telepathically knew to play my favourite song. A grand total of £125, which is less than £35 a head. I am so, so utterly pleased with this and urge you to try Ate O' Clock.
Get yourself to York. Go to the dungeons and scare yourself. Head to Elvington and drive a sports car you'll never afford. Then, go to Ate O' Clock to feast like a King (which you can afford).
You won't regret it!
Ate O' Clock
13A High Ousegate
Tel: 01904 644080
Wheelchair access: Yes