IT might be traditional during the festive season, but I draw the line at eating sprouts, even for the purposes of this review.

Luckily, my nine-year-old daughter accompanied me on a pre-Christmas trip to Micklegate’s The Rattle Owl and, with her adventurous attitude towards food, she was prepared to sample half of one.

They were chopped into two, perhaps a telling sign that nobody in their right mind wants to tackle a whole one, with Ruby confirming what I already knew – sprouts are a Christmas custom that should be forever banished along with supermarket queues, gift-wrapping and the Queen’s Speech.

Serving sprouts might not seem the most child-friendly gesture, but The Rattle Owl’s approach and attitude towards younger diners is refreshing.

Not all pre-teenage children want a kids’ menu consisting of chicken nuggets, pizza and Spaghetti Bolognese and little ones, who also eat for free during the school holidays, are encouraged to enjoy half-sized portions from the main menu.

On first introduction, though, waiting staff informed us that the chef would cook my daughter sausages or chicken if desired.

The seasonal Sunday Lunch menu appealed to both of us, however, as I decided on three courses for £26.00 and Ruby two courses at a very reasonable £11.00.

A Yuletide Menu was also available for private dining parties at the time of our visit, with three courses available for £40, including exclusive use of a room for pre and post-meal drinks.

Nevertheless, each of our dishes carried a festive flavour, with Ruby commenting that the spices in her Apple and Quince Crumble reminded her of Christmas.

There was a good selection of 19 wines, meanwhile, with seven beer choices, including several locally-brewed offerings.

We were also served with lightly toasted bread and a good, strong dipping oil, which was an appreciated complimentary, complementary beginning to our meal.

For starters, I then had Pork Terrine, with Black Pudding and Plum and was pleased with the quality.

The terrine was nice and soft with two good-sized pieces of Black Pudding, including one inserted into the meat mixture, adding a bit of bulk to the dish.

A soft slice of eggy bread and the sweetness of the plum also contributed to an all-round satisfying first course.

The other three starters on the menu were BBQ Tuna, Parsnip Veloute and Cured Mackerel Fillet.

Next, I opted for Roasted Rump of Beef, Roasted Roots, Roast Potato, Yorkshire Pudding, Caramelised Shallot and Garlic.

The meat was very good and could be cut with almost knife-through-butter proverbial ease.

It carried a strong tinge of pinkness, which suited me and, no doubt, showcased the beef at its best, although I appreciate a bit of blood might not be to everybody’s taste and there was no mention of how the meat would be cooked beforehand.

The Yorkshire, meanwhile, was giant-sized and the vegetables were perfectly cooked, achieving a skilful softness to big tasty chunks of parsnip and butternut squash in particular.

My one significant complaint, however, would be that the food appeared to lose its temperature quite quickly – an issue easily remedied, of course, by the meal being served on a warmer plate or the gravy being hotter.

Unusually, there was also no salt or pepper on the tables, although the seasoning of my main could not be faulted.

Ruby chose Turkey Breast with Cranberry and Chestnut Stuffing and Pancetta and enjoyed a generous amount of meat for a child’s appetite.

It was really juicy and tender too, having been treated to a mouthful.

The other two main course offerings were Spinach & Tofu Croquette and Fillet of Hake.

For my final course, I decided on Cheese, Chutney, Crackers and Apple which, refreshingly, did not come with a supplementary charge and that proved only fair given the two disappointingly, Scrooge-like slices of Blue and Cheddar on my plate.

The contrasting generous tub of tasty chutney was disproportionate, and I had to work hard to ensure there was enough cheese to enjoy with each of the flatbreads provided.

A small slice of Christmas Cake was appreciated, though, along with the thin slices of apple.

Finally, Ruby was pleased with her Spiced Apple and Quince Crumble, Raspberry Sorbet and Cremaux.

The crumble boasted a pleasing crunch, the quince its fore-mentioned festive spice and the cremaux was nice and thick, while the sorbet offered a familiar fruity contrast.

Dark Chocolate Delice was the menu’s other dessert.

We enjoyed the restaurant itself, meanwhile, with its stylish interior of wooden floors and exposed brick work, as well as a conservatory dining area.

Jazz versions of Christmas favourites being played in the background also got us in the mood for an afternoon of signing carols at the Barbican.

The location is good too and we wandered over to the art gallery across the road, which was open on Sunday morning, while waiting for our 12noon sitting.

Our final bill, including a glass of red wine and an apple juice, came to £46.75.

The Rattle Owl

104 Micklegate, York, YO1 6JX

T: 01904 658658


FOOD: Cheese portion disappointing 3.5/5

AMBIENCE: Relaxed 4/5

SERVICE: Polite 3.5/5

VALUE: Good 4/5

Reviews are independent and meals paid for by The Press