A YORK restaurateur has opened a new bistro above a bar in the city centre.

Michael Hjort, who founded Melton’s restaurant on Scarcroft Road in York, is also the proprietor of Walmgate Ale House.

He has now launched the ‘Chopping Block’ restaurant, an offshoot of Melton’s, above the Ale House.

The space has been run as a bistro for a few years but Michael, who founded Melton’s in 1990 with his wife Lucy, said “now is the time to up our game here and run a quality led informal restaurant.”

Michael, who is the director of York Food Festival, added: “Walmgate is now at the heart of a great eating quarter with great additional venues in Fossgate and at Spark:York, we want our restaurant to be among the best of the area.”

Alongside the Ale House’s set menu, the Chopping Block will serve diverse modern food like aubergine stuffed with lamb and pomegranate, game burgers with roast venison and sea bream with Yorkshire cider, samphire and summer veg.

Michael said the Chopping Block specialises in promoting the region’s produce.

“Whether it’s the peas in our veggie pancakes or the longhorn beef for our steaks, this is a great place to try locally raised food,” he said.

“In addition of course we can serve you the great selections of local ales available in the Ale House downstairs.”

Asked why the need to create a separate name for the area above the Ale House, Michael explained: “Like many historic buildings in York we have come to realise that customers couldn’t see very far into what is in fact a very large old property.

“People are amazed that we have a function space in our loft above a restaurant above the bar.”

Michael, whose father was Danish, also said: “I blame my Viking forbears – all the frontages in this part of York are small while the buildings behind are often very large.”

The Ale House and Chopping Block are located in a 17th century listed building, and the former offers a range of Yorkshire ales, lagers and ciders as well as an extensive wine list.

Melton’s is featured in all the major food guides and has a rating of five in the Good Food Guide.

Since its foundation in 1997, Michael has been one of the principal organisers of the York Food Festival and is now the festival director.

His commitment to this festival arises out of his support of the local quality food industry.