While commuters have been daydreaming on the platform at York Station for the past few months, behind them at the Royal York Hotel it’s been all systems go for a multimillion pound refurb. The station hotel has been completely transformed with stylish new bedrooms, a very swanky new bar (with cracking cocktails) and a brand new restaurant: Refectory Kitchen and Terrace. We were invited along with the kids to check it out.
What’s on the menu? There’s a British slant to the Refectory’s all-day menu, with Yorkshire strongly represented in dishes like Bridlington scampi and tartare sauce. Carnivores are spoilt for choice but veggies aren’t forgotten either: our roast pumpkin barley risotto with crisp sage leaf was really good and there wasn’t a mushroom in sight. Try to keep the kids’ menu out of the sight of adults or they’ll attempt to order from it: who doesn’t love a cheese toastie with Branston pickle (£4) or sausage roll with ketchup (£4)? Our kids polished off the (rather posh) sausage rolls in about three minutes flat, declaring that they loved them. For more adventurous kids than ours there’s butternut squash hummus and flatbread (£3.75) or parsnip soup (£3.50). Cottage pie, cod, mash and peas and burger and chips will fill little bellies for between £6 and £8. The adult set menu is good value at £16 for two courses, £21 for three (12 noon to 7.30pm daily); roasts with all the trimmings are available on a Sunday.
What’s it like for families? A lot of the time, the success or failure of eating out with kids (especially young ones) boils down to practical stuff as much as the food. Is there room for a buggy? Will they provide a highchair? Is there enough background noise that other diners don’t have to listen to every round of I-spy? The Refectory ticks a lot of our boxes. It’s a large, light and airy space that still managed to feel cosy on a late Sunday afternoon. It’s smart without being intimidating either; we didn’t feel out of place with small, loud children. Although you feel as though you’re in a separate space from the hotel, the hotel lobby is worth a visit to see what an amazing job they’ve done of the refurb (our kids were stunned by the enormous Christmas tree).
What’s the verdict? For delicious, beautifully presented food in relaxed surroundings, The Refectory fits the bill. It’s a treat for adults and children alike (we’d go back for the puddings alone). It’s lovely to see the hotel brought to life again and we’re sure the restaurant (and bar) will prove a big hit with locals and visitors. Our kids even wanted to stay over but as we live around the corner we’re struggling to justify that one…
The Refectory, The Royal York Hotel, Station Road, York YO24 1AA – therefectory.co.uk
This review is taken from the New Year 2016 issue of the Little Vikings magazine.