Yemi’s Food Stories: My review of new Harrogate fine-dining restaurant Rhubarb
by
Last updated Feb 10, 2024

Yemi Adelekan is a food writer and blogger who was a semi-finalist in the 2022 series of BBC TV’s Masterchefcompetition.

Every Saturday Yemi writes on the Stray Ferret about her love of the district’s food and shares cooking tips – please get in touch with her if you want her to review a restaurant, visit your farm, taste the produce you sell or even share a recipe.


This week, I had the opportunity to eat at the newly opened Rhubarb in Harrogate.

It is located of Cheltenham Crescent, above Sukhothai, and is just a stones throw from the town centre and a multi-storey car park.

Harrogate has an abundance of restaurants, bars and coffee shops so one might be tempted to ask if there is room for yet another restaurant. After my meal at Rhubarb, I can confidently say yes.

Appetisers

The head chef Varun Khanna, who has previous experience at Restaurant Sat Bains in Birmingham and the Pipe and Glass in Beverley, has curated an exciting and innovative menu that reads like a dream.

The complimentary truffled pudding with walnut ketchup and winter truffle delivered a tang that woke up the tastebuds, and this was followed by sourdough breads with caramelised onion chicken liver parfait and marmite butter.

The parfait was silky smooth, light and delicious. The sun-dried tomato and basil bread combined the sweetness of the tomatoes with the fragrance of basil, making it the perfect vessel for the umami from the parfait.

The marmite butter grew on me — it was delicious. Marmite lovers would adore it, and marmite haters may even be pleasantly surprised by how the perfect blend of marmite and butter draws you in to have yet another taste.

The beetroot cured salmon starter.

Starters

The beetroot-cured salmon with Exmoor caviar, Whittaker’s gin and crème fraiche sorbet, and compressed cucumber was sublime. I am not usually a fan of smoked or cured salmon, but when done right it’s a thing of beauty. This was certainly done right! The texture and the sweetness of the beetroot shone through, and the sorbet was the perfect accompaniment. This was a 10 out of 10 starter.

The second starter was a dressed Whitby crab, brown crab bhaji, pickled okra and curried carrot, coconut and lobster bisque. It was beautifully plated and tasted delicious with a generous amount of crab. The bisque also showcased the delicate curry flavour.

The Whitby crab starter.

Mains

The main of Skrei cod loin with trout caviar, nasturtium, samphire and champagne sauce was a feast for the eyes – with the fish topped with radish scales. The cooking of the cod was on point, with each layer flaking away, super juicy and glistening. The sauce was delicious, light and delicate, but I think I would have liked it to be a touch thicker.

The cod loin

I loved the second main, which was a rack of lamb with spiced leg and potato puri, apple chutney, tamarind, mango chutney and mint. The lamb was pink, juicy and had a slight smokiness from finishing it on the grill, which added a layer of delicious complexity. Given this is a fatty cut, perfect rendering of the fat whilst still keeping it pink is a must.

The rack of lamb

Desserts

Desserts in many restaurants are often predictable and uninspiring, but the head chef has curated exciting options that make leaving room for dessert a no-brainer. The warm dark chocolate tart of chocolate sourdough French toast was surprising and paired very well with the creamy and delicious artichoke ice cream garnished with artichoke crisp.

I had to try ‘the lemon’, which is a lemon curd mousse with finger lime pearls folded through and bergamot meringue tubes. I expected this to be a sweet dessert given the mousse was encased in white chocolate, but I was pleasantly surprised that the sweetness came from the ice cream and floral meringue tubes and matched the light acidity from the mousse. This is a wonderful dessert to finish a meal on.

The desserts.

The Thai curry ice cream with banana, Exmoor caviar and blood orange consommé was intriguing, and diners could be nervous about it… but it would be a huge miss, as it was a surreal experience to be eating something that perfectly straddled the path between eating a curry and a dessert — something that shouldn’t work but absolutely does. There was spice, sweetness, heat, curry flavour and saltiness.

This is a stunning and phenomenal dessert from conception to execution that everyone should treat themselves to. Caviar on dessert? Yes, please.

The Thai curry ice cream and chocolates.

The dining experience ended with petit four of four chocolate creations. I left immediately thinking about all the people I would want to experience what Rhubarb has to offer.

Rhubarb is a fine dining restaurant without the pretentiousness that sometimes goes with fine dining.

It’s a place you can go for special occasions and opt for their tasting menu, business and casual lunches with their three-course lunch menu priced at £29 or opt for their a la carte menu for mid-week treats or weekend out.

I am delighted that Rhubarb has opened to offer a refreshing, innovative, exciting and accessible take on fine dining right in the heart of the town. I encourage you to check it out.


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