MAXINE GORDON and friends visit York's number one-rated restaurant on Tripadvisor – tucked away in the city's suburbs

LOVE it or loathe it, Trip Advisor is influential and being rated the number one restaurant in a city is quite an accolade.

York is full of fancy eateries and celebrity chefs with more Michelin plaudits than hot dinners between them.

But none of them currently has that coveted Trip Advisor spot – voted en masse by the dining public.

That honor goes to tiny Sardinian bistro Buongiorno tucked away in suburban Woodthorpe, a good three miles from York city centre.

It's held this position for a few months, so we thought it was time we checked it out.

You will definitely want to book ahead for this one – the restaurant is tiny with only enough space for around 20 diners.

Our party was for four and we had booked for 7.30pm last Saturday. Storm Jorge was throwing everything it had at us, so even the slight dash from the car park to the restaurant had us sodden.

Buongiorno is tucked away in a square of shops set around an open car park. There's a Tesco nearby with a cashpoint, which is worth knowing because this is a cash-only joint. I'm telling you this so you are forewarned because we weren't and had to make a dash out in the storm after our meal to get some money from the ATM.

I expected the restaurant to be small, but it is more compact than I had imagined. We were shown into a corner alcove and tried our best not to get tangled up in the netting and empty shells displayed on the bamboo-screen-covered walls as we squeezed into our seats.

The laminated menu listed a range of starters, pizza and pasta mains, priced from £5.50 to £10.50, with specials chalked up on three blackboards above the bar. Trouble was, now we were in the alcove, we couldn't see the boards, and the waiters were busy serving other customers. So we had no choice but to contort our way back out and look for ourselves. And I'm glad we did, because the specials, especially for the main courses, sounded irresistable.

And when our waiter, Dany, one of the owners, joined us and began explaining each one in detail, we were sold.

To kick off, I had the special king prawns (£9.50) – three crustacean whoppers. Satisfyingly meaty, they were sweet and salty, with a subtle smokiness from the expert grilling. Really superb.

Other starters for the party included the tomato garlic bread with burrata cheese (£7) and the baked aubergine in tomato (£6.95) – each declared "delicious".

As the designated driver, I watched my friends enjoy a bottle of Cannonnau (£22.95), a Sardinian red that got the thumbs up.

On to mains, and the seafood pasta special was reported to be "one of the best seafood pastas ever". This was a combination of black spaghetti with a mix of mussels and prawns, cooked in a tomato sauce flavoured with Italian wine. It was topped with one of those giant prawns.

Another special we ticked off was the pasta with sausage ragu (£13.95), said to be tasty – but the portion was on the small side.

I joined my other friend in ordering the fillet steak. Trip Advisor reviewers had particularly raved about Buongiorno's steaks, so it was time to see if they lived up to the hype. At £24.95 each, this was the most expensive item on the menu – so I was hoping it would be worth it.

I had no regrets. This was one of the best steaks I'd ever eaten. It was a fine piece of meat that had been expertly prepared. It was seasoned to perfection and cooked just as I had asked: medium to medium rare. The outside had been seared to give it colour and flavour, while the inside was succulent. My friend had asked for his to be cooked rare, and again it was delivered just so.

On the side were two lovely accompaniments, glossy pieces of buttery kale and a very moreish mashed potato filled with creamy Sardinian cheese. Together, the entire dish was a complete joy.

To finish, we shared a selection of homemade desserts (all at £4.95 each). The tiramisu was the last portion, and came with cream and strawberries on top, which I suspected had been added to disguise the small amount of pudding that was actually in the bowl. My other friend was happier with her Italian marzipan cake – and not put off by its lurid green colour. Of the three, my warm almond cake was the best choice, and came topped with vanilla ice-cream, dark cherries and chocolate sauce.

Service was great – when we got it! We had to ask several times for our drinks and waited a long time for our food. Getting the bill at the end of the evening took an age – then we had to dash out to the cashpoint to settle up.

On the drive home, we all agreed the food had been really great, but that we wouldn't be rushing back. The restaurant was small to the point of being uncomfortable. It had been really cold and we sat in our coats until Dany put on a heater. And service was a bit forgetful. As for value, expect to pay city centre prices – but you are paying for quality.

At the end of the day, dining out is more than just having a decent meal. The setting and service are just as important and Buongiorno didn't deliver on those counts.

Buongiorno, Acomb Wood Drive, Woodthorpe, YO24 3XN

T: 07985 797754


Food: Very good 4.5/5

Service: Inconsistent 3/5

Ambience: Cold/cramped 2/5

Value: Fair 3.5/5

Reviews are independent and meals paid for by The Press