MAXINE GORDON manages to get a booking at the hottest table in town: Skosh, Micklegate

JAY Rayner has a lot to answer for. Come to mention it, so does that Michelin guide.

After a glowing review from the Observer food critic and the recent award of the Bib Gourmand by Michelin, getting a table at Skosh is harder than ever.

The top tip is to book ahead, and be prepared to go "off peak". We opted for a midweek lunch – and even then, the place was almost full. Whatever time you choose, you will need to secure your booking with a £10 credit card deposit.

So, what’s all the fuss about?

From the outside, the place looks rather ordinary, more minimalist canteen than culinary Mecca. Small wooden tables and a mix of wooden benches and chairs are the functional furniture of choice while the decor is a bright mix of greys, mustards and white.

There is an open kitchen at the back, with an option to book a seat around the perimeter so you can watch the chefs at work.

Skosh is definitely a place for foodies. There will be items on the menu you will not have heard of, and food combinations that are novel too. Puck nuggets anyone? Or how about some cabbage tsukemono? Fancy a heap of gunpowder spice?

Happily, the waiters are well trained and enthusiastically translate the dishes into Yorkshire-speak. (Puck nuggets turn out to be duck and pork balls, the cabbage is a sort of Japanese sauerkraut, and the gunpowder spice a heady dose of toasted cumin, served with bread and butter).

Skosh is derived from the Japanese word "sukoshi" (pronounced "skoh shee"), meaning a "small amount". Hence, the plates are petite in size, similar in idea to Spanish tapas, and ideal for sharing. Prices vary from £3.30 to £15 – and, as a guide, the higher the price, the more substantial the dish. Our waiter suggested choosing seven plates to begin with. We picked six from the savoury selection and two desserts.

Plates arrive at a leisurely pace, but thought is given to what works well together, so some come in a pair or trio.

York Press:

GREAT START: Cauliflower Manchurian (£4.50)

Our appetising adventure began with cauliflower Manchurian (£4.50) – a posh take on veggie pakora. This was a great start: each floret still had a crunch and was covered in a fluffy pillow of batter, bathing in a spicy, sweet and sour sauce.

Even the bread and butter was special. The home-made sourdough came with Mr Whippy-soft butter and the aforementioned “gunpowder spice” (£4).

To drink, we picked a Spanish verdejo (£20 a bottle), which was crisp and round, and matched the Asian flavours in many of the dishes.

The prettiest main course was the smoked trout (£10), a delicate serving of five little fans of pink meat, lightly charred, and crowned with a jewel of smoked eel. On the side was gorgeous, finely cubed, slaw of apple and fennel, providing a clean, crisp counterbalance to the soft, oily, fish.

Keeping with the fish theme, we plumped for the day boat fish (£13.50) a meaty portion of bream, with a crispy skin, and floating in a murky umami broth of mushrooms and seaweed. In a separate bowl came the lightly pickled cabbage tsukemono. The fish was cooked beautifully, flaking away on the fork into meaty morsels, to be scooped up with the tangy sauce and cool, sharp cabbage.

Our combo of choice was the crisp pork belly, vindaloo sauce, pickled carrots and yoghurt rice (£14) and the Bombay dauphine with molee sauce (£7.50). India was the culinary cuisine being colonised here.

York Press:

NOVEL: Bombay dauphine with molee sauce (£7.50)

The pork belly was almost wafer thin and beautifully cooked: crispy on the outside, giving way to a buttery layer of white fat, with melt-in-the-mouth pork underneath. The vindaloo sauce had a kick but was not flamethrower hot. Beneath were thin discs of lightly pickled carrots. These still had some crunch, adding texture and flavour to what was our favourite dish of the day. On the side came a bowl of cooling yoghurt rice. The Bombay potatoes were dumpling-like and soaked up like a sponge the fantastic, lurid yellow, molee sauce, full of favours of bitter citrus and sweet coconut.

Ending on a sweet note, my sister loved the fun-sounding peanut butter milkshake with banana custard donut (£3.50). This was naughty and nice: the drink served in a tall shot glass with a straw and tasting like liquid peanut butter. The donut (yes, just one, and a teeny one at that) was filled with a thin banana cream – watch the dribbles – more like a crème anglaise than a custard.

York Press:

DESSERT: 72 per cent chocolate slice with fennel and black olive

We shared my choice, intriguingly described on the menu as "72 per cent chocolate slice with fennel and black olive” (£8). This was a clever and delicious dish, full of surprises. The dark chocolate slice was in fact a silky-soft and airy mousse, the black olive came in two forms, firstly as a sticky tar of black olive caramel, a variation on the ubiquitous salted caramel, and black olives coated in chocolate, like a toffee raisin, but with an oily-salty centre. The biggest surprise was the green quenelle on top of the choc slice: it looked like a scoop of mint ice-cream, but was in fact frozen fennel meringue which had the texture of a sorbet and delivered a massive punch of aniseed flavour.

It all added up to a memorable lunch, which at around £30 a head (excluding drinks), we thought was money well spent.

Skosh, 98 Micklegate, York, YO1 6JX

T: 01904 634849


Food: Adventurous 4.5/5

Ambience: Relaxed 4/5

Service: Informative 4/5

Value: Good 4/5