Does York's new Grön Kafé have the recipe for success? MAXINE GORDON reports

ON paper, Grön Kafé looks to have all the ingredients for success. For starters, it's in a prime location, in Petergate, bobbing up next to some of York's busy cafes, restaurants and shops. Add in that it's the brainchild of Matt Healy, a runner-up in BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals, and you've got a serious splash of celeb/TV chef credentials. And the cherry on the cake? Grön's menu is totally of the moment – mostly vegetarian and vegan, with some fish dishes too (poached and cured salmon and crab on our visit), reflecting clean, Scandi flavours. Grön, it transpires, means green in Swedish. It even has greenery on an inside wall with the words "Keep it clean" spelt out in pink neon lights.

If all sounds intimidatingly healthy, don't be put off. For alongside the virtuous sounding halloumi and houmous Buddah bowl, baked butterbeans on toast, and chickpea and avocado salad, are a range of traybakes with enough sugar and calories to counter all that clean-eating good living.

So, you could say Grön is the Jekyll & Hyde of York cafes (why not put that up in a neon sign?), tempting us with the good and the bad – and it's all the better for that.

There are few things I like more than feeling that I've earned my treats. And if I'm having a salad or a plate of veg for my lunch, then I seriously want an overdose of sugar, spice, and all things nice for afters.

Following a quick browse of the menu at Grön and clocking the tempting array of cakes at the service counter, I felt confident Grön was going to leave me with a grin on my face.

And did it?

First things first. This is a compact place. It's in the former Filmore & Union spot, which closed down last year. If you are familiar with F&U, then you will know what to expect. It's a narrow space, with just eight covers downstairs and 24 maximum upstairs. If it's full, it is a squeeze, and you will be sitting cheek by jowl with your neighbours. Navigating your way in and out between tables – without nudging another diner or knocking their table and spilling their herbal teas – requires the flexibility of a yoga master. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Luckily, when I turned up on Sunday at lunchtime, the one table that was free was a larger one meant for five. There was just me and my teenage daughter, so we had plenty of room to spread out and drape our winter coats and scarves over the empty chairs.

For now, Grön is open during the day only. Accordingly, its menu covers brunch and lunch, with the likes of pancakes, toasts and egg dishes as well as open sandwiches and salads, and small plates such as mac and cheese and a sweet potato and halloumi hash.

It was close to 2pm when we ordered and unfortunately the dishes with salmon and crab, which I had fancied, were sold out, as were two of the fresh juices I had my eye on.

Undeterred, I plumped for the 'Buddah bowl' with halloumi and houmous (£7.95) ordering a side of sourdough toast too (£1.20). My daughter chose the sautéed mushrooms with pickled wild mushrooms, dill hollandaise, and poached egg (£7.95).

We helped ourselves to glasses of water from a decanter on the side. We had to clear empty glasses and napkins from our table. The solo waiter, who was also manning the downstairs counter, where we placed our order, was doing a good job of looking after everyone. He mentioned later that a colleague had phoned in sick.

The venue has a tiny open-plan kitchen upstairs. We could hear everything going on in there, including talk of them running out of hollandaise.

This was self-evident when our dishes arrived – but my daughter didn't seem to mind, and insisted the dish was "really nice", with special praise for the pickled mushrooms that were sharp and sour and added an exotic layer to this brunch favourite.

My salad bowl was an attractive sight, artistically presented with all the items nestling next to each other, creating a rainbow of colours. The halloumi was perfectly cooked and I made the schoolboy error of not eating all three slices immediately while it was still warm and soft. As it cools, it firms up, and loses its oh-my-God heavenliness. But it was hard to ignore all the other elements before me; my buttered toast was calling out to be laden with forkfuls of herby houmous, while another corner was reserved for the spicy chickpeas. The cucumber salad and tomato and red onion salsa helped cleanse the palate while the fresh watercress enhanced the virtuous tone of the dish.

And so to the sweets. Alongside a decent decaffeinated flat white (£2.80) and an outstanding loose-leaf peppermint tea (£2.50), we shared a Bakewell slice (£3.25), a vegan brownie and a vegan tiffin bar (both £3.50). All three were good, with special merit awarded to the brownie which had been topped with Biscoff spread and was seriously squidgy inside.

Full-up, we groaned our way out of Grön, after settling our bill of £32.65. Collecting our coffee loyalty card, we agreed we'd be back.

Grön Kafé, 62-68 Low Petergate, York


T: 01904 405943

Food: Tasty 3.5/5 stars

Service: Good 4/5

Ambience: Tight squeeze 3/5

Value: Fair 3.5/5

Reviews are independent and meals paid for by The Press