Chill, chat and tapas at Ambiente, Fossgate

I’m going to start by saying that this place was cool, and I mean Nordic style steak house cool with a great buzz, friendly staff and incredible tapas. The only downside; I’d eaten a big breakfast beforehand which I rather regretted on arrival at Ambiente Tapas, as the menu was so extensive that I automatically wanted to sample as much as possible along with copious amounts of red wine. Sadly for me, I had the unfortunate task of choosing which four dishes I was going to order before I  simply burst as a result of over eating. So here goes, my choices are as follows:

Bistec De Arrachera – to translate, this was a long plate of dry rubbed skirt of beef served with roasted onions and chimichurri. I chose this dish simply because, who the hell can go wrong with steak and chimichurri? At £6.95, it was the most expensive of the dishes I ordered and personally I would have liked a slightly larger portion for the price, but the steak was succulent, nicely flavoured and enjoyable as my only meat dish on the line-up.

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Mejillones A La Marinera – AKA, mussels steamed in white wine & garlic cream (the cream was omitted for me for obvious reasons). You can’t go far wrong with a big bowl of mussels when they’re swimming in a delicious broth. Despite the fact that I couldn’t have the cream sauce, the juice left behind at the end was absolutely beautiful. Once I’d munched my way through the meaty mussels, I scooped up every last morsel of the broth – very tasty indeed.

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Aceitunas Gordal – that is Queen Gordal olives for us Anglo-speaking specimens. Were they the best I’ve ever tasted? Nope, but they sure weren’t the worst either. I’d happily order them again. Add some black olives and red peppers to the bowl and Bob’s your uncle.

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Judias Verdes – in other words, green beans pan fried in garlic with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts. Wow, wow, wow! Don’t be fooled by the fact that this dish sounds healthy as hell, because I really did save the best until last. This concoction just goes to show what can be created with just a few simple ingredients and really justifies why we love the simplistic food of the Mediterranean so much. In fact, I have thought about whipping this dish up at home countless times since as it’s so darn easy. The sweetness of the tomatoes mixed in with the crunch of the pine nuts, hint of garlic and juicy beans married together like a symphony. If someone gave me a mahoosive bowl of this then I would be in heaven. Divine with a capital D, people!

Overall, would I come back to Ambiente Tapas? Hell yeah! I’m only sorry I’d eaten a big breakfast that morning. If you’re in York and love tapas, chill and good wine, there’s only one place to be.

Gurkha goodness at Yak & Yeti

I stopped in my tracks as I passed down Goodramgate on a recent trip to York when I spotted The Yak and Yeti. I’d never passed by a Gurkha restaurant before and I was surprised to see one situated down the cobbled streets of this ancient city; so much so that I snapped a photo as a reminder to book a table for the next evening. I shamefully know very little of the Gurkha’s apart from short snippets passed down via my Nan and Mom from my Grandad who served in Burma; who told me of the sacrifice they made for Britain and their fierce fighting spirit. I booked a table mostly for the new experience and because I wanted to get just a little snapshot of the far-flung land that my Grandad had landed in all those years ago in World War 2 – even if army rations would never have allowed him the pleasure of tasting local cuisine.

The restaurant, which claims to be ‘York’s first family run authentic Gurkha restaurant,’ was lovely from the offset – painted pictures of Mount Everest and little hill villages adorned the walls, colourful prayer flags draped down from the ceilings and some small tables were lined up by the staircase with cushions for customers to sit on – I suppose if they wanted to dine in true Nepalese fashion.

The menu featured Gurkha lagers and a selection of meat and vegetable curries and noodle dishes. Allergens were clearly displayed on the menu next to each dish and there was a wide array of gluten and dairy free dishes – ordering had never been so easy!


For starters I opted for the Chicken Choila, which derives from the Kathmandu Valley and consists of spiced grilled meat. The menu didn’t lie when it said it was spicy, but the tender chicken and intense flavour was very enjoyable, even if I did have to swig back half a glass of wine to cool my mouth down.

Next up for mains I ordered the Everest Lamb – fresh from the foothills of Nepal as the menu stated. The lamb came served in a beautiful brass cup looking like a big scoop of delicious ice cream. Adorned with fresh tomato and herbs on the top to finish, the dish looked impressive before I’d even dug my spoon in. The lamb was plentiful and so very tender, the spice was just right and the sauce was exquisite. I had never tasted anything quite like it and I really persevered to eat every mouthful.

Overall, the experience was a great one and I felt really chuffed to have discovered a Gurkha restaurant on my stay in York. Before I’d even paid the bill, (the price was very reasonable by the way), I was already Googling if there were any Nepalese restaurants in the Birmingham area. If you’ve never tried Nepalese food and want to transport yourself away to the foothills of the Himalayas, do it – it’s an experience not to be missed!

Mambo Italiano at Marzano

With the exception of a gluten, dairy free pizza at Zizzi, I’ve always hated chain Italian restaurants. I’ve paid £15 before for a bowl of pomodoro with no seasoning or flavour in general. Many people are a dab hand at cooking pasta dishes at home, and so the thought of paying over the odds for it at a restaurant disappoints me massively. Although I admit they have probably got a lot better at catering for a gluten and dairy free diet in even the past five years, my negative experiences have meant that I always walk right on by when I see a Bella Italia or Prezzo.

On a recent trip to York, I discovered that the city is literally a haven for foodies. In fact, during the whole five days of being in the historic hub, every restaurant that me and my fella ate at was one that we’d walked past and decided looked good. I even took a picture of each one to ensure that we remembered to check out the menu online. We stumbled across Marzano late one evening when taking a stroll through Fossgate looking for somewhere to enjoy a tipple. With a sign outside that said they could cater for gluten and free diners, we booked a table for the next evening.

We were met with a cosy decor inspired by the sights and sounds of Italia as we entered the restaurant. After ordering a bowl of olives and a nice bottle of Merlot for the table, I got to work quizzing the waitress on the menu choices, to which I was delighted that they could whip me up a traditional Bruschetta for starter and more incredibly, a Linguine Fruit Di Mare for main – for some reason, adding seafood to gluten/dairy free dishes at chain Italians has always proved much harder than pulling teeth from a lion.

The Bruschetta featured a nice mix of marinated and oven roasted tomatoes, basil and fresh rocket, alongside olive oil and salad. The tomatoes were incredibly juicy, flavoursome and the perfect accompaniment to the wine. Simplicity is key here and the whole taste sensation served to remind me of how much I absolutely love tommies!


Next came the Linguine. On first look, I was a little disappointed that I was served pasta spirals instead of spaghetti, as quite frankly, not only do I enjoy twizzling my spaghetti around my spoon and fork, but also, a Linguine in my opinion should be served with long strands of pasta. Hesitation aside though, I tucked in to probably the best pasta dish I’ve had at a restaurant.

I’m a huge fan of seafood and so the combination of king prawns, clams, mussels and squid, thrown into a pomodoro sauce with white wine and chilli went down very well with me and my belly. The portion sizes were good and for the first time in many years, the thought of eating out once more at Italian restaurants was starting to seep back into my mind.

Although the restaurant was busy on a Friday evening, the waiters didn’t rush us out at full speed – a nice touch as we got to enjoy the meal at a pace we liked in true Mediterranean style.

All in all, would I go back to Marzano? 100% yes! My advice to them would be to stock gluten free spaghetti for such dishes as Linguine and Bolognese, but on the whole, Marzano has restored my faith in Italian restaurants – a feat that is quite incredible for any premises outside of good old Italia.