The Refectory, York Review

When I think that there's no more hidden gems to find in York,  I always manage stumble across another one. This time it was The Refectory restaurant at The Principal hotel on station road. The Grade II listed hotel is something I have walked by so many times on the way to train station which is conveniently situated next door and I cannot believe that I hadn't popped in until recently.

The Refectory restaurant was brought to my attention when I received an invite to sample their new spring menu. Created by The Principle York Hotel's brand new executive chef, Jason Wardill, The Refectory's new menu is firmly local at heart with a range of dishes that are created using suppliers from York and the neighbouring countryside. The eclectic menu features an array of a la carte dishes to suit most tastes, all of which are designed to champion Yorkshire and the Yorkshire dales. 

To start our meal my husband and I opted for the sourdough bread and olives. As much as we liked the look of the starters, we decided that we wanted something a bit lighter to share so that we could fill up on main and dessert and I always think that you can really judge a restaurant by their bread olives - I've never had a bad meal somewhere that the olives are fresh and juicy and I always like to see whether a restaurant will make the extra effort to make their bread and The Refectory York definitely passed the test on this one. The bread arrived freshly from the oven which had a wonderful crunch as I bit into it and the dough in the centre melted into my mouth, it was heavenly.

Main course was yet another taste sensation. I opted for the lentil chickpea cakes with spring vegetable and butterbean casserole drizzled with lemon yoghurt. The lemon yoghurt added a zesty flavour to the dish, which worked well against the rich tomato sauce on the butterbean casserole. I loved the addition of the crispy onions on top that added a nice little crunch to the dish and the lentil and chickpea cakes were flavoursome with all the spices and the outer baked layer contrasted with the soft melt in the mouth centre, I really wish I had this recipe to cook at home. My husband went for the 8oz Sirloin steak which he equally enjoyed. The steak was cooked exactly to his liking and served with a hearty portion of triple cooked chips.

I'm not usually a pudding person, but the warm polenta cake had me intrigued so I knew I had to try it. It came drizzled with Yorkshire honey and was decorated with honeycomb and lemon creme fraiche. I've never had polenta cake before and I was really impressed with this dessert, the polenta made the cake moist and light and helped absorb all the sticky sweet honey. I also thoroughly enjoyed the honeycomb, albeit it being a little bit strong on the Yorkshire honey. The lemon creme fraiche then helped the dessert all come together and overall it was a simple, yet elegant dish. James ordered the buttermilk pannacotta, doughnuts and raspberry jelly which was a beautifully presented dish and combined a very understated pannacotta with fun miniature doughnuts and juicy jelly pieces. Albeit the pannacotta being a little bit grainy for our liking, it was again another triumphant dish.

Overall I was really impressed with the menu at The Refectory York. There's plenty of options for vegetarians, they are definitely not an afterthought here which happens in a lot of the finer restaurants and the food was full of flavour.  This restaurant is in the perfect location for anyone looking for a nice meal before heading home after a day in York or equally, great for those who are looking for somewhere fun and sophisticated to start their night out. I would definitely return again.

Have you been to The Refectory before?

*This meal was complimentary in exchange for this review. All words are my own.



  1. It looks like a beautiful restaurant! I've never heard of polenta cake before, I'd be intrigued to try it!

  2. I would agree with you on the bread front, freshly made bread on the premises makes such a difference. Love the sound of the polenta cake too.



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