It’s not often that I can afford to go out for a meal at a restaurant, but end of term called for a special occasion. My friends and I visited Ambiente, a tapas restaurant in York: the supposedly ‘better’ one of the two in the city. Having never experienced tapas before, I was excited to try something new.
The restaurant, on Goodramgate, has a casual bar area and cosy dining sections. The staff were very friendly, with one waiter offering to take us through the sherry menu with all his relevant expertise.
We began with the pan catalan starter – delicious tomato sauce-soaked bread, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and scattered with chives. I also ordered a small glass of Merlot (which lasted me the whole meal, as I’m not much of a drinker).
We then moved on to mains. On the recommendation of the one of us who’d visited before, we ordered two carby tapas bowls to share – the patatas bravas (potatoes cooked in a tomato sauce) and patatas fritas (chunky chips). I chose the pimto (aubergine, courgette and tomato topped with quail’s eggs) and the gambas al ajillo (whole prawns with peppers in a garlicky oil). Between them, my friends ordered the judias verdes (green beans with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts), panceta de cerdo (slow-cooked belly pork), and the suppli (mozzerella and risotto croquettes).
The eggs in the pimto went fabulously with the ratatouille-style vegetables, which were very tender and steeped in a rich sauce. The prawns were succulent, with none of the chewiness of cheaper varieties. (I also enjoyed a moment or two playing with their strange spindly arms, much to the disapproval of my fellow diners.)
Afterwards, we were moved out into the bar as another party needed a table. This wasn’t an inconvenience, really, as the bar area was comfortable and afforded a view of the pretty street outside. We all ordered churros for dessert, another novelty to me, and one I hope to enjoy many, many more times. Served with a warm chocolate dipping sauce, the churros (fried dough) were dusted in just the right amount of sugar and cinnamon: I didn’t feel the need to guiltily brush any excess off onto my plate.
My friend also tried a white hot chocolate, the traditional accompaniment to churros. She wasn’t able to finish it, as devilishly rich as it was. I tried a sip, and found it just rather too decadent for my own sweet tooth.
All in all, the bill came to around £60; I spent £23, my one drink included. It was a lovely evening out, and tapas has definitely won me over.