Everyone deserves a second chance, says Elaine Lemm, after two wildly different visits to the Hideaway Kitchen.
Regular readers of these reviews will know that often when something goes wrong on a restaurant visit, it will go badly wrong. It is some unwritten law of the universe that there can’t be just an odd mistake. The wrongness of those goings-on is sometimes way beyond anyone’s control; others, let me tell, are not.
As a seasoned reviewer, it is my job to decide which it is and this is precisely the position I found myself in at Hideaway Kitchen at Lower Dunsforth, a smidgeon south of Boroughbridge. Illness front of house and power cuts behind the scenes do not make for the most pleasant of evenings or the best food.
I left with my anonymity intact pondering the moral dilemma hanging over me – should I go back?
Fast forward five days and the picture could not be any different. It was one of those fabulous spring days when all feels well with the world again, and the Hideaway was basking in it. Sunshine flooded through the place, and already I knew this experience was different and I had not even yet looked at the menu.
Georgina Welburn and Amelia Gordon are six months into their venture at what was once the Dunsforth, a smart dining pub with a fierce reputation. They had de-countrified the decor, starting with the horsey wallpaper, and stripped back much of the formality to create a bright, fresh feel oozing style, yet one which remains relaxing and comfortable with lots of white wood and great lighting.
They describe the menu as honest, simple and family-friendly creations. I don’t think it is that simple per se, but it is lovely in its directness. The menu here changes every three weeks and so ties easily to the changing seasons. For now, there are three menus on offer, an all day, a brunch from 10am-12pm and Sunday lunch.
Brunch is popular here, not unsurprisingly as it is super family- friendly; there are eggs, waffles, pancakes, smashed avocado, pastries, yoghurts, bacon sausages and on and on. We, however, focused on the all day and that too is carefully balanced to cater for all, with that joy of joys – starters that can also be mains which extends the variety of the food on offer without taxing the kitchen.
A shared Mezze board of blue meat pickled radish, pickled chillies, houmous, dukkha, baba ganoush, wedges of soft flour tortilla and feta cheese (£8) is enough for two appetites wanting to manage three courses on a lunchtime. Not an overly adventurous board, though the radish demands some explanation (it is not blue but a soft pinky orange and tastes like a radish).
Lamb, steak, pork and prawns are passed over on the mains for pan-fried halibut with seaweed butter, sea kale and new potatoes (£18), and across the way, starter-sized lobster ravioli (£7, main £14). Both these dishes were stunning on a backdrop of gorgeous grey and white plates and well worthy of the gasps of delight from us. The hefty chunks of lobster sat on robust pasta and came bathed in a gloriously flavoursome bisque which was erring on the over-salty side, suggesting it had been reduced a tad too much.
The halibut was, to date, the best piece of fish this year for me with bang-on cooking and a carefully crafted sauce and the prettiest of micro herbs.
Another course and another plate of beautifully presented food with an orange Pistachio cake with orange mascarpone which, where the lobster was over seasoned, could have done with a little more. That aside, this was the cutest of dishes with oodles of bits and bobs of crumbs, carrots and pistachio to add to both the appearance and the textures.
I am so, so glad I went back as these two are onto something. The service is precise yet sweet and friendly, the cooking excellent and the decor a breath of fresh air. Georgina and Amelia struggle to find the staff to support their passion for the Hideaway – the ongoing dilemma of the rural restaurant – but they are making a cracking job of it together while at the same time bringing up two small children. No mean feat.
The Hideaway Kitchen, Lower Dunsforth, York, YO26 9SA. 01423 320700.
Open: Wednesday, 10-5pm (bar until 10pm); Thursday to Saturday, 10am-9pm (bar open until 11pm); Sunday: 10am-4pm (bar open until 7pm).