THERE’S a slew of new restaurants opening in York just now and the regular reviewers on this page are keen to tuck in to what they have to offer.

At the time of writing however none of them were quite ripe for sampling and that is how we happened on an old staple that’s been going for longer than I care to remember - Wildes Wine Bar.

If I’m honest, it’s been some time since I’ve even given this compact bistro a second glance, tucked away as it is in the corner of Grape Lane, just round the corner from the Minster.

Once across the threshold though everything seemed reassuringly familiar - shiny green tiles encasing the bar and a fresh paint job in complimentary tones being the only discernible difference from my visits of yesteryear.

On arrival we took a pew - quite literally - in a cosy corner and the friendly waitress came over with menus. We visited on a Friday night after work and all three of us were hungry. We opted to tuck in to some veggie nachos (£7.95) to share while we decided on something more substantial.

To drink we plumped for a bottle of the Millstream Sauvignon Blanc (£17.75). We followed the rule of thumb for people who know nothing about wine which is to just pick the second cheapest. We’re not experts, but it tasted good, with a tiny hint of tartness, and we weren’t far in to our first glass before the nachos arrived. They were surprisingly good. So often they’re a bit of a cop out - salsa, sauce and guacamole from a jar. Not in Wildes - the sizeable bowl was brimful with crisps topped with lashings of a homemade sauce packed with chunky vegetables and a side of equally yummy salsa, guacamole sour cream. Not too much heat which suited us all well. They made for a very substantial starter even though they were split three ways.

On to mains, which also arrived promptly, I went for the boar and beef burger with mature cheddar (£11.50). This too was a sizeable offering - thick beef burger in a floured bun - none of your brioche nonsense - topped with melted cheddar cheese and a surprise element: three onion rings fitted neatly inside one another in concentric circles. Added to this were homemade chips and a fresh side salad. The burger was juicy and tasty and the chips crispy outside and fluffy in. The onion rings, though not mentioned on the menu were a good addition and added an extra flavour.

Jordan chose a sweet pepper and butternut squash lasagne (£11.50) it came served with salad and chips also. Something about the turning of the season clearly made us think that doubling up on carbs may be acceptable. The lasagne came in its own little dish and so was piping hot. He said it was everyone he expected from the menu description, hearty, tasty comfort food with the cheese being the main taste coming through. The salad was well dressed but had wilted a little from being up against the lasagne dish as it radiated its heat. The chips were good too like mine.

Chloe went for the Greek salad with char-grilled vegetables, yoghurt dressing and grilled flatbread (£9.25). She decided to replace the raw onions with extra olives which was no problem for the kitchen. Even with the salads, you can’t say that you don’t get a generous serving. She had a huge bowl and though in the end she may have exceeded her monthly olive intake she said she thoroughly enjoyed it.

At this point I’d normally be telling you about the dessert we went for, but on this occasion, the portion sizes defeated us. We could have gone for lemon meringue with raspberry compote, sticky toffee pudding or chocolate fondant (all £4.95), but perhaps another time.

Wildes has been a fixture on Grape Lane for a long while and I have not visited for around a decade so it was quite an interesting exercise to go and see how the place had changed - and it was good to see that not much has.

We went on an evening, but should you go in the day the upstairs is a a good place to go and sit and enjoy the sunshine with a beautiful roof lantern flooding the place with light.

On this visit we asked if we could sit up there, but the answer came back that there were only tables for two upstairs, and, since there were three of us this was not a good option so we took a corner downstairs looking out onto the street.

Our total food bill stacked up to £39.20 with the wine on top which seemed about right for what we had.

The food like the place and the service was not flashy but well executed and satisfying.

It is clear how this place has remained for so long. It may not wow but it will please all but the fussiest of diners.

Wildes, 21 Grape Lane, York

Phone 01904 601370


Food: Satisfying 3/5

Service: Swift 4/5

Ambience:Charming 4/5

Value: Fine 3/5

Reviews are independent and meals paid by The Press