I DON’T know about you, but we have been nervous about going out to eat again since lockdown eased.

But, like everyone else, we’ve also been starved of socialising and good food in equal measure, so on the day that wearing face coverings in shops became mandatory, we finally ventured back out in to York city centre looking forward to a proper feed.

Back in February we were lucky enough to go to the re-opening of the then newly refurbed Judge's Lodging in Lendal.

The Grade 1 listed building, which dates back to 1710 has been majorly spruced up costing owners, the House of Daniel Thwaites more than half a million pounds.

But in this post lockdown world, it's not the inside of the building most diners are interested in, but the fresh air of the tables that stud the leafy courtyard and look out on to the street.

The dining experience has altered somewhat since our last restaurant review. The object of our visit to Judges was seeing how eating out works now and how we felt about being in a public place with strangers almost as much as how the food tasted.

There was a little bit a of a shaky start when we tried to book online as there wasn't the option to specify sitting outside. We headed in to town on foot and chatted with a lady at the outdoor reception in the end and made our booking that way and she was happy to accommodate.

Upon arrival on the night we were asked if we would still prefer to sit outside and were shown to a table facing The Old Bank bar opposite - a great perch from which to regard our fellow intrepid socialisers.

We had invited some friends who had some good news to celebrate and it was great to see them in person for the first time in months. We stuck with verbal greetings and were happy to be in the same place as one another.

Even if you’ve only come to have drinks table service is the way things go now. There is a technological option of scanning a code fixed to the table with your phone which will cause a menu to appear on your screen. From there you can make a selection of food or drink and it is brought to your table. Payment is taken on your device. We were given the choice of using Apple Pay or paying by card.

This system would have worked well if we did not want to stray even a little bit off menu. However one diner wanted to have the fish and chips but did not want the attendant mushy peas. There was no way of communicating this on the screen so we caught the waiter's eye and she was happy to take our order the old fashioned way.

Jordan and I shared a cheesemonger's plate with boxed camembert, goats cheese arancini, marinated olives, chipotle spiced guacamole, pickles and homemade bread (£16).

It made an ideal starter packing a very tasty punch whilst not being too substantial the baked cheese was sharp and rich slathered on the homemade bread cut through with a pickle. The arancini were perfect savoury bonbons, we’d have been happy with a bowl of them.

For mains I went for the 10oz gammon steak, fried duck egg, sweet pickled pineapple and thick cut chips (£14). The meat was superb and plentiful coming in two halves and the zingy pineapple was a bit of a revelation. I couldn't tell the difference between the duck egg and an ordinary hen's egg if I'm honest.

Jordan plumped for the smoked aubergine seitan burger with vegan cheese £13, which he said was 'fine', but he'd have liked a bit more seasoning as it was not as flavourful as the starter. The texture was not as firm or chewy as he’d hoped and, perhaps if the seitan had taken the starring role from the aubergine he’d have preferred that. He’d forgotten that vegan cheese was involved at all until we came to the write up.

Harry went for the tempura tiger prawns with Asian salad, soy and honey dressing (£7.50) and fried whitebait £4. He raved about the fish and his only negative was that there were just three prawns. Suzanne went for the beer battered fish with thick cut chips, baked lemon and tartar sauce also £14, opting to hold off on the mint crushed peas. She was disappointed her fish was a bit greasy, but enjoyed the dish overall, especially the chips which all three of us who had them, agreed were excellent.

For dessert I went for the chocolate brownie (£6.50), Suzanne and Harry shared sticky toffee pudding at the same price and Jordan had a mini cheese cake with coffee (£6), all the puddings were delicious - no complaints there, but it wasn't till we were on our way home Jordan realised he didn't get his coffee. The food bill totalled £87.50.

Any misgivings we had soon disappeared in the presence of good company and Judges made every effort to make our night out as comfortable as possible.

Reviews are independent and meals paid for by The Press.

The Judge's Lodging

9 Lendal, York


T: 01904 638733

Open daily week days 7.30am - 10pm . Weekends 8am-10pm

Food: Good 4/5

Service: Satisfactory 3/5

Value: OK 3/5

Ambience: Relaxed 4/5