The medieval town of York has always offered plenty to history buffs and café-goers, but a quiet foodie revolution, too, has recently been taking place. Wander down one of the higgledy-piggledy backstreets and you’ll find a new crop of young chefs putting the city’s food in the spotlight.
Head under the ancient arch of Micklegate, for example. Once known for its pub and club crawl ‘The Micklegate Run’, the listed buildings on this street now house some top-notch restaurants, the newest addition to the block being trendy Skosh.
After seriously starry stints at Northcote, Pipe and Glass and The Star Inn at Harome, along with extensive travels in Asia, half-Indian chef Neil Bentinck has returned to his hometown to open this contemporary small plates restaurant.
The contemporary interiors of Skosh combine stained pine wood tables with bold yellow and grey touches. Sit on the table in the middle of the restaurant that’s framed by a striking jade painted arch, or get close to the action on a high seat looking onto Neil’s open kitchen that glows at night thanks to bright yellow tiles on the back wall.
Cutlery is balanced on wooden blocks, handmade for the restaurant, and dishes are served on bespoke ceramic crockery in earthy colours, created by Neil and ceramicist Jess Jos.
The small plates menu (the word Skosh comes from the Japanese ‘sukoshi’ meaning ‘a small amount’) is made for sharing, and our waiter suggested five or six small plates between two, or two to three of the larger options.
Hand-finished ceramic plates arrived in swift succession – crisp square nuggets of saddleback pork were accompanied with a sweet and sour tangy gooseberry ketchup, jewel-like granola-fried Skosh chicken was dipped in a delicate sorrel emulsion, and molasses-cured wild sea trout came on little sticks with peanuts and lime.
Larger dishes were excellent, with equally thoughtful choices for meat-eaters, pescatarians and vegetarians. Crisp-topped Suffolk lamb belly fell apart beautifully and was livened up with bursts of pomegranate seeds, pickled onion, charred baby gem lettuce and a dash of yogurt to cut through the meat.
Baked hake was topped with finely sliced cauliflower with Egyptian Dukkah spice mix on an umami-packed miso cauliflower rice bed – the highlight of the meal. Summer veg (we had artichoke, beetroot, courgette, tomatoes and yellow carrots) brought over from local Brunswick Nursery, the very same day, was tarted up with creamy burrata, black olives and a clean rapeseed oil emulsion.
Sticking to his Indian roots, Neil plays with mango lassis on the dessert menu. Shot glasses of smooth and creamy mango were lifted with cardamom and served with mini doughnuts that burst open to reveal an intensely yellow saffron custard centre.
Neil’s speciality dessert uses goat’s curd from nearby Yellison Farm to create fluffy toasted marshmallows with refreshing raspberry sorbet and a zingy lychee granita. A richer, more grown-up dessert was a 76% chocolate slice, which had a brittle-like black olive crisp and a light fennel foam topping with chocolate-fennel sauce.
A real contemporary addition to ancient York, Skosh is pushing the city’s restaurant scene up a notch, making it a serious foodie destination.
Written by Alex Crossley
Photgraphs by Alex Crossley and Skosh
First Published July 2016
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