Review: Dining at Becket’s, Knaresborough

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Dining out review by Tom Hay

Becket’s Restaurant & Grill sits on Castlegate in Knaresborough, just off the market square.

It opened last summer after an ambitious and sympathetic renovation of the old building it occupies, which has left history and solidity evident beneath an expensive-looking sheen of white walls and dark wood.

In the main dining room, a large, old, dilapidated fireplace remains largely intact.

A removed beam, immense and more than 600-years-old, has been repurposed as a seating bench.

There’s a lovely outdoor bit which catches the sun and a smaller room upstairs which would make birthday groups feel like they owned the place.

It’s a mezzanine, so the floor doesn’t fully cut off the room below – some noise carries and they share a chandelier, making it all feel cohesive.

Starters are great value. Smoked ham hock croquettes are filled to the brim with meat, salty and crisp and balanced by sharp pickles and dots of tartare sauce (£5.95).

A goats cheese and potato terrine (latticed on top with soft layers beneath, a mish-mash of rosti and dauphinoise) comes with glacé cherries, pistachios and rocket.

It’s not perfect but it’s inventive and it works (£5.95).

Mains aren’t such a bargain, but tasty, well-cooked and thoughtfully-flavoured side veg come as standard.

A monkfish dish is really impressive: three chunks of meaty, pepper-crusted tail flesh on a plate adorned with three sauces (mint, tomato salsa, pea puree) and bits of delicate asparagus and crisp, salty ham (£17.95).

That variety doesn’t extend to the risotto balls, of which there are three large egg-shaped ones served with melted mozzarella and less tomato sauce than they needed. The only disappointment, but not a big one (£14.25).

For dessert, four bite-sized doughnuts sit on tiny chunks of fruit (mango, strawberry, kiwi, apple) in a lightly spiced syrup (£5.95).

The doughnuts aren’t the star – chewy more than crisp, they merely add heft (and a dollop of cream adds richness) to the gorgeous fruit sauce.

A textbook crème brûlée is thick and smooth with flavours of condensed milk and caramel (coffee-ish, almost) and a perfect crust.

Beside it, a slice of blood orange tart takes the form factor of a lemon tart but uses a different fruit, though a few tablespoons of lemon juice carry such clout compared to blood orange that the flavour is far more subtle.

Whether the brûlée and tart belong together is uncertain, but they’re both good (£6.25).

There’s a nice Australian Riesling (Allegory, Howard Park, £23.50) which tastes quite a bit like lemons and green apples with none of the sweetness that makes some people get angry at German Riesling.

Meanwhile, the dessert wine (Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, £4.75) is pretty straightforward – it smells like canned apricots, tastes like sultanas and stands up to the sugar content of the aforementioned puddings.

All told, I like it a lot. The chef (who is pretty new there, at the time of writing) has a great eye for plating and a good palate.

Apparently he’s so creative that the menu changes all the time, which is a terrible idea for a bad chef but a clear strength for this one.

It certainly makes me want to eat there again.

Becket’s Restaurant & Grill, 25 Castlegate, Knaresborough. 01423 869918, becketsrestaurant.co.uk, facebook.com/BecketsRestaurant.