The word ‘grazing’ might lead you to think of little morsels, nibbles and impossibly twee amuse-bouche. Maybe.
Well forget that idea, the ‘grazing by night’ menu of this rather fantastic bistro in York’s foodiest street is anything but the light option. The seven courses on offer are rather more substantial than a morsel but no less fun for it.
Everything has the sort of attention to detail that you’d expected from a Michelin-starred chef and the little twists which make really good food soar.
We attempted to pace ourselves, taking care not to dive too deeply into the generous helpings of bread but, in the end, resistance was futile, this menu is designed for the long haul.
Each of the courses has left a memorable impact – and one proved just too challenging but left me with a timely reminder about trying new things which I’m pleased to have been pushed on.
The vodka infused and thickly cut smoked salmon was sweet with a silver spoon of oyster and caviar bringing the aroma of the sea straight into the darkened city eatery.
The Redcar smokies served with a corn chowder were exquisitely light, with a level of flavour which kept all the elements of the dish separate yet combined – they’d be worth going back for as a meal on their own.
The platter of duck’s liver, quails egg and blood sausage bonbon was a step too offally for my tastes but gusto a plenty over the table before the piece de resistance of Shorthorn beef with spinach and a delicately encased duck egg.
Sweet lovers don’t miss out either with a chocolaty take on one of my all time favourites, piping hot rice pudding which came with ‘chocolate air’! The ‘air’was a lighter-than-light mousse and a sudden surprise with the chill of some ice-cream.
And it doesn’t end there with a selection of truffles which were handily provided as a takeout when that really did prove to be one treat too far.
All-in-all a remarkable feast with a lovely laid back service, completely unhurried and wonderfully intimate.
It seems I’m not alone in my admiration, checking the list of those who’ve also eaten there is like a who’s who of foodies.
Of those, I think Jay Rayner summed things up pretty neatly:
“If there were more places like this in Britain’s towns and cities, there would be a skip in my step and a song on my lips and a killer scar on my chest from where they’d gone in to perform the heart bypass on account of my overindulgent eating habits.”
I’m already looking forward to finding an excuse for a repeat visit.
* The grazing menu costs £39.50 per person. J Baker’s is at 7 Fossgate, York. 01904 622688.