Van Zeller, Harrogate: Review

If you’re going out for lunch tomorrow, bear in mind the good people preparing it are likely to have one eye in the latest ‘Where To Get A Decent Tea’ guide as they are on your scran.

Granted, the Michelin tome doesn’t float everybody’s culinary boat – and the increase of quality elbows-on-tables/sauce-in-beard gaffs can only be a good thing – but sometimes it’s nice to release the inner posho and eat somewhere with proper cutlery.

They’re likely to give the guide a good thumbing over the pass at van Zeller; a place that ticks all the sparkly boxes without getting too far up its own jacksy. Precision cooking with creative flourishes; a welcoming and well-informed front of house team; nicely furnished bogs. Affirmative all.

There’s also a no-messing wine list that moves through the gears at quite the pace: from £20 to the best part of a grand in about 7 seconds flat by my reckoning. The thriftier end of the scale, we can vouch, has been well thought through, in case you’ve blown half your budget on a slice of toast at Betty’s round the corner.

You can get involved in some big bucks taster menu action if you want, or, if you sign up on the VZ website there are monthly deals with which to get jiggy, (a £17.50 set menu including cocktail on this visit,) but we go for the 35 quid-a-pop a la carte lunch and get knee-deep in 3 courses of bold flavoured fodder.

Proceedings kick off with a pea and feta amuse; a zippy reminder that summer did happen; and some classy bread (rye and beer, garlic and montgomery cheese) that they welcomingly bring round twice; a fine demonstration that not all Yorkshire folk are tight.

Whoever smoke-cured the eel did so like they meant business, and fair play to ‘em. It packs a punch without tipping into overkill. Cucumber and apple ‘stuff’ (there’s a bit of whizzbangery gel/snow action going on here, of course) and toppy chervil do their green bit to balance the fish out.

Quail came with tomatoes of the quality that TV chefs, groping and slavering over supposed superior specimens from sunnier climes, say you can’t get in this country. But these were as ripe and greenhousey as they come. Plus they’re ‘heirloom’, which sounds fancy.

Lamb – sweet and tender, and hare – hints of offal and outdoors, are cooked on the money.


Save yourself the arseache with that broccoli ‘custard’ that comes with the lamb though, chef. There’s nowt wrong with it per se but in essence you’ve taken a piece of the green stuff, put it through a few processes and ended up with a bit of something that tastes like, well, broccoli. The reduced-reduced-reduction is, however, plate-lickingly ace.

Sharp greengage, crunchy hazelnuts, and a couple of deeply-flavoured faggots are a spot-on match for the gamey hare, and make for a robust but sophisticated number.


There was dessert but by this point we were hanging one on a bit  (soz front of house and pastry chef, and ta for not booting us out) and memory proves stubbornly blurry.

Looks good though, eh?


Star or no star, hats off for some satisfyingly fancypants stuff.

VZ Website

Let’s be bezzies.




One thought on “Van Zeller, Harrogate: Review”

  1. Hello

    Lockwoods restaurant in Ripon ( has just won The Good Food Guide¹s North East Restaurant of the Year ­ so we would love to invite you to sample some of our delights, and see for yourself why we were voted No 1. We are also up for best use of local produce with Delicious Yorkshire (decision soon!)

    We¹ve also just started to make our own charcuterie (chorizo, venison and red wine salami and cider rissole) which is being hung in the cellar and filled by hand at the moment. There is talk of packaging this and selling it for Christmas too. We currently have about 30 kilos maturing in the cellar!

    Next month we are starting our competition to find someone who can top our famous chocolate pot recipe ­ offering the winner the chance to have his/her choc pot served in our restaurant. We would love for you and Mandy to help judge this. We will be running it with Living North magazine.

    It would be lovely to see you ­ please drop me (Sarah Heron) a line to arrange a good time. Hope to talk soon.

    Sarah HeronManaging Director ma¹am Public Relations Ltd 07701 036 Sarah Heron is an experienced freelance PR Consultant and owner of ma’am PR, a content management, PR, marketing and social media agency. She has a first class degree in Public Relations and has been working in PR & marketing for nearly 20 years.

    Companies she has worked with include Best Western Hotels GB; England Netball; The Feversham Arms & Verbena Spa in Helmsley; Amanda Wakeley; Karen Millen;; The Michelin Food Tour in Yorkshire and Jones Lang LaSalle.

    ma¹am PR offers a Payment by Results scheme for new businesses venturing into PR for the first time. To find out how ma¹am PR could help your business get off the ground, get media stand out or drive sales ­ just get in touch. Think of the environment; please don’t print this email unless you really need to. This message is intended only for the stated addressee(s) and may be confidential. If you receive this email transmission in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete it from your system. Any views or opinions presented are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ma¹am PR Ltd. ma¹am tries hard to ensure its networks are kept virus free, however it is still your responsibility to scan this email and any attachments, for viruses on arrival. Any unauthorised disclosure, use or dissemination, either whole or in part is prohibited.

    Registered No: 8560778 England

    From: Eating The North Reply-To: Eating The North Date: Wednesday, 16 September 2015 18:46 To: Sarah Heron Subject: [New post] Van Zeller, Harrogate eatingthenorth posted: “If you¹re going out for lunch tomorrow, bear in mind the good people preparing it are likely to have one eye in the latest ŒWhere To Get A Decent Tea¹ guide as they are on your scran. Granted, the Michelin tome doesn¹t float everybody¹s culinary boat -“

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