Review: Lunch at Ambiente Tapas

Tapas on Fossgate is the closest our kids are going to get to a Mediterranean holiday vibe this summer. Would the fussy eaters stick with the bread basket or get stuck in? We headed to Ambiente Tapas on Fossgate to find out.

The concept You don’t have to endure a short-haul flight with the kids to enjoy authentic tapas this summer (welcome news to those of us who aren’t venturing any further than the Lake District anytime soon; Ambleside is lovely this time of year, even if it is on the wrong side of the Pennines). Ambiente Tapas is a small independent chain with restaurants in Leeds and York offering gourmet tapas in a relaxed and stylish setting. As well as the original Goodramgate restaurant, they’ve just opened more spacious new premises on Fossgate. That’s where we headed with three generations of family to celebrate Father’s Day.

The Place Ambiente is informal and welcoming to families, but the pared-down, industrial style makes it feel upmarket and a treat for parents. Our table was next to the open ‘theatre kitchen’ which provided lots of entertainment for the kids. No need for crayons and activity sheets when you can watch the chefs in action. Highchairs are provided; in fact ours was waiting for us at the table when we arrived – a small but thoughtful touch.

The food The menu is long and varied, so there should be something for even the pickiest palate. They suggest that adults choose 3 or 4 different dishes each to share, and we got a couple extra for the little ones too. The lovely waiting staff were happy to recommend dishes that might go down well with the kids and even suggested small adjustments that could be made to make them less spicy. As a result, our kids tucked into all sorts of dishes that they wouldn’t normally touch. They wolfed down piles of patatas bravas, a henhouse worth of chicken wings, green beans with garlic, sundried tomatoes and pine nuts, dates wrapped in Serrano ham and, as usual, loads of fresh bread. Even the baby, who’s in the messy midst of weaning, threw herself into the food (almost too literally – sorry for the crumbs and stuff, guys). The food was all absolutely delicious – fresh, interesting and really tasty.

The verdict Given that our kids wouldn’t eat tapas when we were actually on holiday in Spain, we had fairly low expectations of how this lunch would go. How wrong we were. The imaginative dishes won the family over – all three generations of us. And it was a good lesson for us know-it-all parents: there’s no such thing as a fussy eater, just the wrong food!

Ambiente Tapas, 31 Fossgate, York YO1 9TA (open 7 days, 11am to 9.30pm) and 14 Goodramgate, York YO1 7LQ (open 7 days 11am to 10pm) –






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