MAXINE GORDON sticks her (pitch) fork into Roots, the new York restaurant from North Yorkshire celebrity chef Tommy Banks

HERE are three things you will need for a successful visit to Roots: the patience and determination of a Brexit negotiator to get a sought-after table; the appetite of a sparrow to be satisfied with the teeny servings, and the wallet of a banker (yes, it's pricey).

First things first, you can only book online (don't even try to find a telephone number), and have to pre-pay £25 per person to secure a spot. We managed to get a table for two last Wednesday at 6pm. Want one for a Saturday night? Good luck to you.

Why the fuss? Roots is the satellite venture of Tommy Banks, chef at the Michelin-starred Black Swan at Oldstead (named the best restaurant in the world by Trip Advisor) and a TV regular on the Great British Menu and MasterChef. Some of his telly dishes appear on the menu at Roots – like the greatest hits of a pop star.

Roots, which has set up home in the former Bay Horse pub on Marygate, is part of a growing trend for restaurants to offer a range of "small plates" rather than a traditional three-course meal. It's all very fashionable, but there's a hitch. The portions are small and you need to order quite a few plates to fill you up. And with a small plate costing between £5.50 to £22 – with the bulk costing more than a tenner – the bill soon mounts up. Eye-wateringly so.

The idea is that diners share the dishes and try more of the menu. That's fine if you are a "sharer", but if you guard your dinner like the crown jewels, Roots is probably not for you.

Luckily, my dining partner Vanessa was in the former category. She also prefers veggie food, so we were given the vegetarian menu too.

Roots will only be offering three main menus throughout the year (titled ‘Preserving Season’ in autumn; ‘Hunger Gap’ in winter and spring, and ‘Time of Abundance’ in summer.) Call it poetic or pretentious, Roots’ clear mission is to make the best from the land, with a firm focus on local, seasonal produce – and on having to create culinary magic when food stocks are seemingly frugal.

The autumn harvest is evident in the current menu with cauliflower, broccoli, kale, beetroot and apple all in starring roles. While this might be comforting, it's hardly exciting. In terms of flavour, inventiveness and a fun and memorable eating-out experience, Roots is not a patch on Skosh on Micklegate, which has a similar small-plates style and has won awards galore to boot.

But back to Marygate. We began with a basket of decent sourdough bread and thin seed crackers (£5) which came with a new one for us: Lincolnshire Poacher Custard, which tasted like a posh cheese spread.

York Press:

TO START: Sourdough bread and thin seed crackers (£5) with a Lincolnshire Poacher Custard and butter

The pea falafel (three pieces for £8.50) tasted more like a dumpling; the most memorable component being a palate-cleansing cold pickled carrot (a bit like your mouth taking a cold shower).

The crapaudine beetroot (£10) is one of Banks' smash hits and has been on TV. It looks like a slice of black forest gateau but is a triangle of beetroot, slow-cooked in beef fat for five hours then smoked and topped with swirls of creamy curd and slivers of linseed crackers and pickled turnip. It tastes earthy and smoky, with the texture of a medium-rare tuna steak. It was the most 'left field' dish we ate, but it worked.

We had two choices from the vegetarian menu: roasted cauliflower florets topped with a salty Yorkshire pecorino and kale (£14.50), and cheddar dumplings – all crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy inside – served with broccoli (£15). Both were OK rather than anything special. The halibut, with broccoli, smoked bacon and a mussel sauce, was the most expensive dish on the menu at £22. The fish was ever-so-slightly well done, but had a lovely flavour on account of the smokiness of the bacon.

For pudding, we shared a family heirloom in the shape of Mary Banks’ apple cake (£8.50), which had a crunch to its sponge and was served with creme fraiche and, oddly, frozen fruits.

York Press:

DESSERT: White chocolate, Douglas fir and lemon verbena '2018', £9.50

More ambitious was the white chocolate choice, with a cooling sorbet and parfait flavoured with essence from a Douglas Fir at £9.50. It was one of those deconstructed affairs with white Aero-type chocolate pieces – all very artful and undoubtedly wickedly complicated to create but, like the sponge, it failed to pack a punch.

There's no denying that skill, time and thought have gone into the dishes at Roots, but I left feeling underwhelmed. Our bill, excluding drinks and service, came to £93 (but add in two small glasses of wine and a couple of soft drinks, plus coffees at £4 a cup, and a tip, and the final amount was closer to £140).

As for the interior, the magnolia walls and light, beech wood furniture might be described as "Scandi", but in truth are bland and uninviting. Service was bright and knowledgeable – and one of the best things about our night.

Roots, 68 Marygate, York

68 Marygate, York

YO30 7BH

T: not available


Food: Creative 3.5/5

Ambience: Bland 3/5

Service: Good 4/5

Value: Expensive 2.5/5

Reviews are independent and meals paid for by The Press