We’re lucky in Harrogate to have such a wealth of brilliant restaurants – you could almost eat out every night of the year without having to revisit anywhere. While the range includes some of the well-known chains, we’re also blessed with a lot of fantastic independent restaurants. These independents are run by outstanding chefs who, having gained experience around the UK and beyond, have set up on their own here to bring us great fine dining in Harrogate.
We wrote about Harrogate’s fine dining restaurants a while ago, and felt it was time for an update. So here’s our latest #ThinkIndie guide to the best fine dining experiences in town.
If you’re looking slightly further afield than Harrogate for your fine-dining fix, there’s The Yorke Arms in Ramsgill near Pateley Bridge, The Black Swan at Oldstead and The Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds, which will soon be moving to it’s new home in Victoria Gate.
Our first destination on the culinary tour of fine dining in Harrogate is very close to home. Norse was formerly our partner restaurant, which took over the tables of Baltzersen’s after the café closed. But following a hugely successful Kickstarter earlier this year, Norse relaunched in its own premises in April.
The new venue, on Swan Road, has allowed the kitchen team – under the expert guidance of head chef Simon Jewitt – more space and freedom to push their creative boundaries.
They offer an a la carte menu of around 10-11 savoury dishes and three desserts, as well as a tasting menu with an optional drinks pairing. The food is inspired by Nordic cuisine, following the Scandi ethos of using seasonal ingredients when they’re at their best, and preserving any surplus produce for future use.
Simon’s team are not only innovative in the preservation techniques that they use, but also in the combinations they create, the food they forage and the modern interpretation they apply to their dishes.
Norse is a great place not just for foodies looking for a new experience, but also for anyone who fancies trying something a little bit different. The food is innovative and definitely falls under the fine dining banner, but it’s very accessible, the flavours are amazing and the atmosphere is relaxed and informal.
Seasonal flavours and creative combinations abound as one of Harrogate’s finest chefs, Murray Wilson, turns humble ingredients into something amazing.
Murray’s innovative and imaginative cooking methods and presentation have seen him named runner-up in Masterchef: The Professionals in 2008, as well as picking up numerous awards. He has worked at a host of top culinary venues, including the Five Horseshoes in Henley on Thames, Claridge’s of London, The Yorke Arms near Pateley Bridge and Norse in Harrogate.
Horto opened last year as a pop-up in the golf club of Rudding Park, and it has now moved to a permanent home within the amazing new multi-million pound spa complex on the estate.
Much of the produce used at Horto is grown in Rudding’s kitchen garden. The garden features a range of fruit and vegetables from around the world, including hard-to-find heritage varieties.
Murray works closely with the estate’s head gardener, Adrian Reeve, to devise an ever-changing, seasonal and adventurous menu packed with garden ingredients that are picked and used on the same day.
Diners can choose from an a la carte menu and a tasting menu in the evening. Wine is served by the glass, or there is a drinks pairing option with the tasting menu.
The food is an absolute delight, the setting is stunning and the service top-notch. Horto is an outstanding addition to Harrogate’s fine dining scene.
Chez la Vie near Waitrose once had a great reputation in Harrogate, so there was some disappointment when it closed a few years ago. The doors opened again in Autumn 2015, when Restaurant 92 began trading. And in the nearly two years since, it’s become a popular destination for lovers of fine dining in Harrogate.
Property developer Ian Humphreys and rising culinary star Michael Carr are behind the venture, which also features The Optimist wine bar. Their focus is fine dining with a twist, and hearty Yorkshire portions. Michael’s background is impressive, with experience at Rudding Park before moving to work in some of the top restaurants in London, including under the stewardship of Gordon Ramsay at Claridges. So it’s no surprise he was named the ‘Chef of the Year 2017’ at the recent Harrogate Hospitality & Tourism Awards.
The menu features a modern take on British Eurpoean dishes, and uses the finest local ingredients, including foraged fruit and vegetables where possible. The restaurant also holds various events, including a regular and ever-popular Wine Club, which features a specially created menu with a range of specially selected wines.