REVIEW: The Pickled Sprout, Harrogate
- Credit: Pickled Sprout
Many people don’t have the greatest relationship with a sprout, pickled or otherwise, but when they arrive in a haze of twinkly lights and burst of botanics, what’s not to love?
The Pickled Sprout is the gorgeous new incarnation of The Yorkshire Hotel on the Stray in Harrogate. December is the season of the sprout so it seems fitting that this place should open up at this time of year.
The exterior of the building is gilded in golden lights and looks shimmery-perfect and so inviting. Opening a new place in the midst of a pandemic is a brave move but all the Covid-safe stuff is second nature to hotels and bars now and it’s no different here – even clever gadgetry to check your temperature at the hotel reception.
The bar and restaurant occupy a huge space in this grand high-ceiling building so distancing isn’t an issue and you feel safe moving around. Plenty of awareness from a good bunch of staff too.
We ate in a room facing the front of the building which was really atmospheric as the late afternoon sun went down – one of the features of the interior design is the ‘botanic’ theme - a suspended floral ceiling brings the outside in – this is the ‘sprouting’ theme which continues as you walk through the property taking in the dark green leafy décor and multi-tonal wallpapers of botanical gardens. It’s all very stylish and chic.
It is a great place for dressing up and cocktails and the menu is brought to life by executive chef, Richard Ferebee who has moved from moving from the group’s much-loved AA rosette restaurant The Fat Badger. On the menu you’re looking at European dishes (how very dare they!) with vegan and superfood options too.
Heading up the bar with a plethora of his cocktails, is Dario Silveria, Harrogate’s ‘Barman of the Year’. Phil Barker, Chairman and owner of the HRH Group explains the thinking behind the new place, ‘The concept was carefully crafted when family members became vegan and we were looking for somewhere to eat that catered for the health conscious and those who wanted to indulge. The launch sees a range of vegan choices, including the introduction of Pure Soul, a vegan juice and smoothie bar.’
Reader, we did not try the vegan options - though they are definitely plentiful, well labelled on the menu, inventive and interesting, including pizzas which looked great from afar.
We mulled over the menus from happy staff and enjoyed some tasty nibbles – including lovely toasted Marcena almonds, zippy olives and crunchy homemade pittas chips with hummus. We can shout out to the starters: salt and pepper prawns (£8.90), with the lightest batter and a plentiful and punchy topping of chillies, spring onions, coriander and lime – super tasty. Another starter of smoked haddock fondue (£7.50) was about as indulgent as it gets – a soupy, creamy melting dish of gently flavoured smoked fish and lashings of cream and cheese which was nicely balanced and especially moreish with chunks of crusty bread for dipping. The classic moules mariniere (£7.50), was another starter choice with its nod to that European favourite. Rich, creamy and again, demanded the dipping of bread.
Main courses span the spectrum and showed the style of the kitchen. Loads of flavour in a brioche burger (£13), with double patty and all the trimmings, quite a mighty offering this. In the fish corner was slab of silky-fleshed cod (£16), nicely cooked with simple but perky flavours of sweet peppers and aioli, with a bubble and squeak side and chargrilled tenderstem. A ribeye steak (£25), was cooked to perfection – nearer to medium than rare as this cut demands, so the silky fat melts. It was served with a creamy sauce with sang with fresh peppercorns. And there was pudding. Knickerbocker Glory (£6.50), in all its er, glory. This vegan beauty looked as lovely as a Christmas decoration, piled high with cherries, chocolate and cream.
The drinks menu brings you a glass of champagne at £9, a pint of Black Sheep in the right glass and a decent selection of wines by the glass as well as an impressive wine list.
It’s clearly a joyous place Harrogate will embrace and enjoy on many levels, from a good stop off for a chatty lunch or for something definitely more fancy, now and into the heady days ahead of going out, out. Let’s hope.