Thursday, 19 June 2014

Restaurant Review: Jeremy's, Scarborough

Scarborough is my kind of English seaside town. Just a little bit down at heel, it evokes a nostalgia for childhood holidays you either had yourself, or sense that, coming from these islands, you should have. Either way, it's hard to look now at endless rows of B&Bs, retro ice-cream parlours and two-penny falls palaces through eyes unadjusted by a lense of mild ironic detachment. But I love all this stuff. I don't think there's a more melancholy sight than a beach-side pleasure park on a drizzly November afternoon, and melancholy is one of my very favourite things. Happily enough, the pleasures in the meal we had at Jeremy's on the Saturday evening of a visit to friends on the North Yorkshire coast were neither ironic or nostalgic ones. The (excellent) choice of our hosts, Jeremy's specialises in good cooking of fine ingredients, in very sensible combinations.

The good sense behind the union of flavours is quickly evident from the menu, which reads not as a challenge, but a calmly reassuring list of lots of things that sound great to eat. Dishes have a recognisable internal logic. A lamb dish comes with obviously Hellenic accompaniments; the accoutrements for the tuna are discernably nicoise. With some difficulty, choices were made.

Mackerel fillet, radish and fennel salad, gooseberry sauce
My starter was a simple but effective combo of a nicely crisped up bit of oily fish, cut by the puckering tang of in-season gooseberries. Someone had been busy with the mandoline in preparing the salad, of which there was lots. Yorkshire portions and all that.

Smoked salmon scotch egg, tartare sauce
Kasia's starter was a wonder of a thing; rillettes-like salmon, rich egg yolk, crisp crumb and a thwackingly good tartare combined to produce something dangerously close to scotch egg perfection.

Confit leg and roast breast of duck, confit potato, parsnip puree, cumberland sauce
Main courses were again very healthy portions. Those of an esuriant disposition will surely find themselves sated over three courses. My duck dish displayed solid cooking; the parsnip puree had been through a sieve no fewer times than it ought, the confit spud was buttery and tender and the sauce was the type which, a pain in the arse to make at home, justifies eating out. The meat was full of flavour as duck tends to be. Only a minor quibble but the skin could have been crisped a touch more and the breast was arguably a bit over.

Rib-eye steak, thrice cooked chips, chanterelles and green beans
Kasia's steak was a fine looking bit of cow. Again, the supporting cast was handled in textbook manner. Thrice cooked chips, regularly a disappointment  were bang-on. Green beans with shallots were perfectly al dente and chanterelles are always a treat. The steak was very nice, although again just a touch over the requested medium-rare. It was noticeably more tender a few minutes into its eating, so maybe could have been rested a little longer too.

I'm not usually that arsed about puds unless there's something a bit special going on which there certainly was here. Between the four of us we shared a "Northside Seaside Special" and "Jeremy's Chocolate Plate".

The former of these two was an impressive display of different techniques. A gorgeously fresh doughnut, some trifle, a nougat parfait-type thing wrapped in - I think - some sort of fruit leather and an almost caustically sharp lemon sorbet starfish sitting on a beach-like crumble replete with candied mint leaves. Got all that?! The fact we forced all this down after already having stuffed ourselves should tell you that everything on this bit of wood was delicious.

Ditto the chocolate plate. A fondant was so rich it made your jaw ache, while the mouse and vanilla ice-cream were smoothly soothing.

The wine list, like the menu, read particularly well. We started with a berrily fresh Romanian pinot noir, before a glass of excellent tempranillo. With a lot of choice at under £20 a bottle, mark-ups are reasonable.

The short of it is that this was a thoroughly enjoyable meal. Obviously a good deal of credit for that goes to the excellent company, but the food was never less than extremely tasty, with some moments of proper class. There felt like there was a real generosity from the place, partly due to those stonking portions, but also from the service which was warm, confident and thoroughly capable. Prices for the a la carte menu are not cheap, but feel like good value considering the obvious skill and attention paid to getting good ingredients and maximising their flavour. Any quibbles over the cooking were minor, and outweighed easily by the fact that everything just tasted really very good indeed.

On further investigation, none of what I've written here should be a surprise; the man looking out from the semi-open kitchen, for whom the place is named, is Jeremy Hollingsworth. He is possessed of a killer CV, having worked for many of the culinary firmament, perhaps most notably having held a Michelin Star at London institution Quo Vadis when it was run by Mister Pierre-White, during his pre-stock cube period. I hope it doesn't sound disparaging to suggest that Scarborough is lucky to have him. Last Saturday night we felt pretty lucky to have been taken to, and so ably fed in his excellent restaurant.


Jeremy's, 33 Victoria Park Avenue, Scarborough, YO12 7TR
01723 363 871



Whitby Priory
On the drive home we stopped off in Whitby for a bit of a mooch. We had unfinished business with this town; the only previous time we were here it teemed down with such ferocity that being outside was basically impossible. No such issues on this occasion. We drove up to the Priory, then went down the 199 steps in the opposite direction from that which Dracula took when his boat came ashore. The book doesn't mention him stopping to have a look at the view over his shoulder, but if he did he'd have noticed that it's a cracker.

We were just about to head back to the car when the most amazing smell announced that we'd stumbled across a smokehouse.

If you ever find yourself in this part of the world, I strongly recommend - actually, scrub that, I insist that you grab some kippers from Fortune's. I love a good kipper and have really enjoyed the Craster rendition of this delicacy in the past but if anything these were even better. Singing with flavour, they were wonderful grilled with just a dab of butter for company.

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