Dispatches From Ripon


Its 8 hours from the clocks changing, and changing the wrong way.  We all lose an hours sleep before arriving back for Sunday service.   However I’m not sure it feels as if spring has really arrived or we are really ready for it.  Its fairly cold and the snow is still a very recent memory.  I’ve also heard an ugly rumour that there may be more snow forecast for Easter weekend.

This is certainly not conducive to wanting to dine out in Ripon and generally it feels like it has been a tough long winter.  Does it not get longer every year?  But just when it seems as if its never going to change suddenly new produce begins to appear and it feels like a shock but also the beginning of some familiar territory.  There may have been some changes to seasons due to global warming but it still feels like a very regular pattern has begun, which we, as chefs tread every year.  Its goes something like this….cold, nothing, cold, root veg, cold more root veg, snow, snowdrops….then bang… daffs, forced rhubarb, lamb, wild garlic, peas, mint, gem lettuce, asparagus, eggs, hollandaise … and we are off!

Easter is next week and we have followed that pattern in our easter specials.  We’ve extended our usual brunch/lunch menu and added starters and desserts.  So appears some beautiful lamb lump, along with wild garlic, french style peas and rhubarb.  Have a look at the menu here and please give us a call if you wish to book for a relaxed family meal.  We have a  colouring competition for the children and lots of little eggs hidden around the restaurant to keep them happily on the hunt.

The emergence of spring means we begin to see so many more vegetables available.  The public’s attitude towards the massive consumption of meat as protein has begun to change.  I’m also finding a renewed interest in vegetables as the main component in dishes.  Tommy Banks from the Black swan at Oldstead is such a proponent of this and its so interesting to learn and watch from his success.  Recently I been enjoying cauliflower… a strange thing to say I admit.  But when you taste a puffed up pillow of rich cauliflower puree its like an entirely different beast from the terrible boiled and overcooked cauliflower of yesteryear.  So much more flavour can be gained from roasting or charring and it pairs so well with spices and nuts.  One recent special has been butter roasted cauliflower, parsnip bhaji, pomegranate, pickled grapes, curry oil & almonds.  Its been a real winner. This year we are for the first time running a vegetarian festival to fall in with National vegetarian week.  We have created lots of small plates which can either be served as a starter or a number can be selected together in a small plates format.  This festival runs from 16th – 19th May so if your into your veggies then please do book a table.  However the carnivores out there need not worry as our ‘normal’ menu also continues to run.

Along with lighter evenings and the green shoots of growth its also been great to see some developments on North street.  North street struggles to retain or improve the range of retail units on it but the appearance of Eastwick looks like a real success.  A really great job has been done to upgrade the whole of the unit and it look absolutely fabulous and certainly is a boost to North Street as a whole.  Its  improved the view out of the front of the restaurant no end and I wish them every success.

Finally I know that with brexit and the miriad of other pressures purse strings are being stretched.  However our Early bird menu is still cracking value at £13.95 for two courses and £16.95 for three courses.  Great quality food and a great price.  We also run our Curzon offer… all you need to do is bring in your tickets and our voucher from the foyer of the cinema and we will give you 20% discount from your a la carte bill.

13 years in and everyone is still working incredibly hard to make sure we provide all of our fabulous customers with the best food and service that we can.

I look forward to seeing you in the restaurant soon,


Matthew Lockwood