J Baker’s Bistro Moderne

Even though I’m not officially working at the moment, I am managing to get out and about and this week is no exception – I had a long standing lunch arranged with a business associate in York at J Baker’s. This restaurant has been much recommended and it’s devilishly hard to get in there as it’s always booked up, so I was really looking forward to it.

Situated a shortish walk from the station, it’s right in the heart of the shopping and attractions in York and as such, perfect for a lunch on a day trip. On the day I visited it was full downstairs (there’s a sizeable upstairs too) and the atmosphere was lively. Service was immediate and attentive –  our little freebie starter was a brown paper bag full of mini roasties and an aioli dip, which was delightful.

The menu is interesting with a choice of tradional two/three courses or a mini taster menu lunch – all reasonably priced, although I guess the affluence of York and its environs dictates a slightly higher price point. Surprisingly for a city with such a well-off catchment area, I expected to see more restaurants of this quality but according to my colleague, they are few and far between (I believe we suffer  the same affliction in Leeds too).

On to the food. We opted for a fairly traditional approach with two courses and no dessert. Starters ordered were Whitby potted crab and ox cheek. Both were superb I have to say, with full marks for presentation. Jeff Baker and his team clearly know what they are doing in the kitchen – but then again, I expect no less from the first chef to get a Michelin star in Leeds at the famous (but alas defunct) Pool Court.

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I ordered the sea bass special – which really was special – and my dining partner ordered the crispy sardines. My fish was spanking fresh and cooked to perfection and the chips on the side had the tell tale beef dripping aroma and were delicious. The purple kale accompanying the seabass had me guessing for a while too!

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All in all, it was one of the best lunches I’ve had so far this year (and I seem to have had a few) and it was good at last to try a restaurant that has been raved about by so many for so long. I can now join the ranks of supporters and I will definitely try to book a table next time we are in York.

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