The Go Down Restaurant in York is an intriguing establishment. So named, I assume, because it is below street level in the heart of the city. With such a tourist draw, it is unsurprising that York is rammed full of all of the usual suspect chain restaurants; both the “higher end”, and, given its student populace, the lower end too. Regular readers will know I try to hunt out an independent (especially a small and quirky one) and it was only when the first choice Whippet Inn was unavailable, that I settled on The Go Down Restaurant instead.
Pre-drinks were had at Ye Old Shambles Tavern which is a stone’s throw away on The Shambles. With a massive array of bottles craft beer, perhaps the warmest welcome in Christendom and their own beer on draught, it may very well have earned its place as my favourite pub of all time and I would commend it to anyone, wherever they may ultimately end up for the night.
Service and Decor at The Go Down Restaurant
Firstly, in Yorkshire, as is common in most places in the North, you get a hearty welcome and friendly service. The Go Down Restaurant is absolutely no different. The decor is modern bistro and surprisingly light and airy considering its psuedo-subterranean location. The decor is supplemented by a bookcase full of old cookery books, including an early Larousse which was taken as a thoroughly endearing sign of good things to come. The wooden tables have glass tops on them, which are not entirely fastened down, which adds to the quirky experience – something to be mindful of if you’re not dainty in entering your seat!
Food at The Go Down Restaurant
The menu is remarkably unpretentious and uncannily Yorkshire; basically headlines of “Beef”, “Pork”, “Lamb” etc with simple descriptions means there’s no messing around. The (very reasonably priced) wine list follows a similar theme naming grapes; the Pinot Noir, despite being Romanian was surprisingly light and fruity and had clearly been chosen with care. The first indication of what’s to come is a complementary breadboard, which was a small (hot) loaf complete with bread knife and oil/vinegar; along with a small bowl of proper sea salt already on the table meant I was certainly happy.
Friend’s starter was the Yorkshire Pudding and gravy; the traditional entree of the region to fill up the diners before the expensive meat course. It takes some serious steel balls to do this as a chef in a restaurant as a starter; there’s too ingredients – Yorkshire Pudding and gravy which are, in themselves, incredibly simple, but surprisingly difficult to execute. The Go Down Restaurant pulls it off, with lashings of a rich, properly made, onion gravy and crisp but well puffed Yorkshire Puddings. It also went surprisingly well with the “Yorkshire Salad” of pickled cucumber. I had the York Ham; a board of thick slices of well cooked ham with a duo of homemade pickles which was extremely nice. The only thing I will say is that the small salad garnish on the board would’ve been improved with a little dash of dressing.
Friend and I both had steaks for the main course, she opted for rump and I had, in a moment of decadent extravagance, a 12 ounce fillet. The meat had been clearly carefully sourced and cooked rare skillfully (demonstrably properly rested for a start). I’m actually going to go as far as saying this was one of my favourite steaks in a very long time, potentially leaderboard level if I had such a thing. That means the following critique of the accoutrements is somewhat academic to a great degree, but if The Go Down Restaurant is to move further into the upper echelons of dining in York, then these may prove to be salient points. Firstly, presentation is often subjective, so when I say that the presentation of the main course felt a little needy, it’s a personal opinion. However, a gravy boat of the garlic sauce and chips in a mini frying basket both conspire together to say “trying too hard”. I get that this is slightly hypocritical given my propensity to extol “showcasing” the main ingredient, but it feels it needs a little simplifying or a different approach.
Thereafter, there are two technical points. I never thought I would hear myself say this, or even that the phenomenon was possible, but the home-made onion rings were over-battered. The ratio of crisp batter to onion of skewed in the direction of the batter and would be easily remedied by cutting the onion a little thicker. Finally, the chips were a mix of thick, near roast potato proportioned beasts, which had not quite cooked crisp, to little crispy ones. This felt like a combination of blanching in hot oil with too many other chips ( the second step in triple cooking) and not chipping them even sizes in the first place. Decent chips are a scientific art form and are rather unforgiving if not prepared properly. However, this is also the North, and I know thick cut chips in this style are far more common than down here in the South so I will accept that a degree of personal preference for skinny fries (frites) may be biasing my view of The Go Down Restaurant slightly.
Well worth a visit; and actually, if you’re visiting from the capital, it is amazingly good value as well.
|Restaurant Name||The Go Down Restaurant|
|Price Range||£50 a head (2 course Dinner with a bottle of wine each)|
|Address||15, Clifford Street, York, YO1 9RG|