Despite its high recognition factor in the UK dining out scene, it's been pretty clear for a while that ASK Italian had to make changes - and its new Harrogate restaurant shows it's doing just that.
Boasting a fresh design and a fresh menu, this new eaterie in the new leisure/dining out complex of 5 Albert Street is reportedly only the third ASK Italian restaurants in its entire national chain to receive substantial investment and a new, modern approach.
At a packed and buzzing private preview night it certainly seemed massively better than the last time I dined out in an ASK.
Then, sitting where it is facing three other Italian restaurants across the road on Albert Street in what is rapidly becoming Harrogate’s own ‘Little Italy’ that’s probably for the best.
As a brand, the new ASK features a mix of classic Italian materials alongside the colour and texture of the Mediterranean.
The Harrogate restaurant’s warm natural furniture, striking tiling trailing plants and huge windows create a light, al fresco feeling even indoors.
It’s certainly a nicer and more relaxed place to eat and drink than any ASK Italian I ever visited a decade or so ago in the days when an element of chintz was the order of the day.
That, of course, was before Jamie’s trendy, urban rustic revolution.
The menu, too, is ‘on trend’, recalibrated by ASK’s expert friends, including celebrated chef Theo Randall, award-winning Italian food writer Carla Capalbo and master of wine Adrian Garforth.
Along with all the Italian favourites you’d expect, there are enough surprises to pep up the choice.
Tasty antipasti boards, regional specialities of meat and fish, Italian-inspired cocktails, it’s hard to find a bad thing to say about the place.
Can the new ASK Italian in Harrogate keep up this quality and standard after the initial excitement and effort of the first few months had died down a little?
One thing is certain, however, on this evidence ASK has finally and firmly joined the 21st century and that’s worth drinking - or dining out to.
For more information, visit www.askitalian.co.uk