I like Scarborough, you like Scarborough, everyone likes Scarborough. The marvellous beaches, Peasholm Park, the historic castle, the grand Victorian architecture – what’s not to like? Well, the food, actually. Yes, you can always have a bag of fish and chips on the front, but aside from a few notable exceptions (Lanterna, Eat Me, the Green Room) there aren’t many really good places to go for a decent sit-down slap-up. In a town that size you would expect at least three or four more options. Thank heavens, then, for Jeremy’s.
Situated just off Columbus Ravine, near Peasholm Park and a mere skip from the North Bay, Jeremy’s is the victorious hometown return of chef Jeremy Hollingsworth. A native Scarborian who trained locally and met wife Anne in the town aged 19, Jeremy has had a full and fulfilling gastronomic career including a spell under Mossiman at the Dorchester, six years with Marco Pierre White (he was head chef at Quo Vadis when it gained a Michelin star) and an extended period in the Far East.
Jeremy and Anne returned to Scarborough six years ago and converted a 1930s butchers and fishmongers (butchers on the left, fishmongers on the right) to open their own 30-ish cover modern English restaurant to instant and continued success.
The restaurant retains much of the original tiled floor and walling, which are in incredibly good nick, and there is a rather marvellous addition of old photos of Scarborough which include images of Jeremy’s fisherman great-great-great grandfather and great-great-great grandmother selling shellfish on the North Bay. In terms of proving provenance, it doesn’t get much better than evidence of six generations in the local food industry.
From a choice of nine starters and six mains I chose juniper and thyme carpaccio of Holme Farm venison with a lollipop of breadcrumbed shoulder and smoked walnut cream. The four slices of venison were perfectly handled, the juniper deepening the taste of the meat and the thyme giving it a perfect lemony lift. The accompanying lollipop is essentially a deep-fried meatball on a stick; an intriguing juxtaposition but a perfectly pleasant addition to the dish, even if it does leave you wondering how the idea first presented itself.
Across the table, hot-smoked salmon, horseradish cream, brioche melba toast and salt baked baby beetroot was a more traditional but no less delicious offering. The beetroots in particular were a lovely touch, adding welcome colour and the perfect flavour to complement the finely balanced salmon and horseradish mix.
Anne and her front-of-house team keep the service dancing effortlessly along and within hardly any time at all the mains arrived. Roast fillet of cod with gratin dauphinoise, creamed leeks saffron and chorizo sauce was as fresh as light and delicious as you’d expect, but the saffron and chorizo in the sauce adds a meaty, spicy edge.
Dish of the night went to my plate, containing breast of Gressingham duck, winter cabbage, prunes, chestnuts, aubergine caviar, dauphinoise potatoes and armagnac jus presented in glorious array. Sometimes you are served a plate of food that satisfies on absolutely every level and this is one. The juicy, perfectly pink duck may be the main star but the ensemble of supporting players are chosen and prepared with consummate skill. Everything on the plate does its job ably and it’s surprising how, once you start eating, every single ingredient seems vital. It’s one of those dishes where you can’t cram enough onto each forkful and you really don’t want the forkfuls to end.
One dessert of gallette Yorkshire rhubarb with clotted cream ice cream and a shortbread biscuit was crusty and crumbly and sharp and deep and sweet. Very well received indeed, in fact. The other, though, was in a different league. Apple tatin with tempura deep-fried calvados ice cream and crème Anglais arrived served in its own little pan and was a sock-knocker-offerer. The crispy ice cream bomb was, of course, delicious and would have made a fine pud in its own right but once it melted into the sublime tatin, the pastry moistened and the juices mingled with the caramelised apple and every mouthful became a party. All of this without even mentioning the calvados undertow flowing beneath it all.
Our bill came in just shy of £100, which is on the high side for Scarborough but perfectly fair, I thought, for the level of ingredients and service. In Leeds or York, we’d have considered it cheap.
Jeremy’s has enough local trade in the winter and more than ample trade in the summer to not have to worry what I think, but for the record, I really, really liked it. Classic, English food made with good local ingredients with enough flair and imagination to mark it as easily one of the best places to eat in the area.
Considering how little real competition there is in the town (restaurant-wise) Jeremy really doesn’t have to try as hard as he does. That he does, though, is to his credit.
• Jeremy’s, 33 Victoria Park Avenue, Scarborough YO12 7TR. 01723 363871, www.jeremys.co.uk. Open: Wednesday to Saturday, 6-9.30pm; Sunday, 12- 3pm.