Harden’s guide success for North Yorkshire chef Tommy Banks

Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria has been voted the UK’s best restaurant in the carefully curated annual Harden’s Top 100 Best UK Restaurants diners’ poll.

And the North’s successes keep on coming with three of North Yorkshire’s eateries – all from Yorkshire-born chefs – featuring in the elite annual list and York revealed as the northern city with the most listings in the extended Top 500.

The 33rd edition of the Harden’s guide, published this week, is one of only two surviving established UK restaurant guides made available in print, and the only one based on feedback from normal diners rather than a group of professional inspectors.

A total of 30,000 reports are submitted from a survey of 2,500 diners.

Restaurants at all price levels are included: from street food vendors to the country’s most ambitious dining rooms, with 2,800 restaurants listed in total.

Multi-award-winning chef and local lad Tommy Banks, born and raised in the small village of Oldstead, once again achieves not one, but two Top 100 listings for his restaurant with rooms, The Black Swan at Oldstead on the edge of the North York Moors and fine dining offering Roots, in the heart of York.

Roots climbs to 28 from last year’s position at 41. Diners say the converted city centre pub is “combining skill and originality in equal measure – with a menu that’s is unexpected and exciting”.

“Knowledgeable service coupled with the beautiful presentation and amazingly flavoured food makes for a truly unforgettable meal”.

However, the restaurant bible notes that even those who acknowledge that it’s “excellent” still often feel that “bills are simply excessive”.

The overall verdict? “Excellent… but at a price”.

Meanwhile, The Black Swan also climbs higher up the ranking to 34th position (from 65 in 2023) with an admission from diners that “it’s very difficult to find fault” at the famous pub.

Head chef Callum Leslie’s ten-course tasting menu is £175 per person, and even if “you may be heading for bankruptcy at this level of pricing, the cooking is astonishing”: “we even thought it good value! with some of the most interesting and tasty desserts encountered in any starred restaurant”.

Fellow Yorkshire-born chef Shaun Rankin is also in this year’s list for his restaurant at Grantley Hall (75), near Ripon.

Quoting its diners’ reviews, Harden’s 2024 guide said: “Valeria Sykes spent £70 million converting the country pile into a hotel, and given its almost “intimidating” level of luxury naturally “you may need a second mortgage before booking”.

On all accounts, though, it’s “quite outstanding in all respects”, not least results from the ten-course ‘Taste at Home’ menu for £145 per person”.

Peter Harden, co-founder of Harden’s, said: “It has been a stellar year for the North of the country with L’Enclume in Cumbria coming out top for the first time and the likes of Solstice in Newcastle making a huge impression so early on in its journey.

He added: “It’s fantastic to see the Top 100 listings in Yorkshire come from the region’s extraordinarily talented homegrown chefs, Tommy Banks and Shaun Rankin whose restaurants’ popularity prove that higher prices aren’t always a barrier if diners genuinely believe they’re getting value for money.”

Darlington and Stockton Times | Business News