COLUMN: It has to be Harrogate! with Caroline Bayliss
This week we visited the Tannin Level with friends. It's one of the old stalwarts of the Harrogate Independent scene and describes itself as a classic basement Bistro.
Fortunately it has high ceilings – so my very tall husband was in no danger of bumping his head.
We sat at a table near the bar. I prefer this as you get the light from the windows, but most diners seemed to choose to sit further into the restaurant.
It was yet another cold Harrogate winter night but the atmosphere in the bar was warm, cosy and relaxed.
We sat on what appear to be old church pews, and mismatched chairs.
The walls are whitewashed but livened up by some colourful Harrogate Railway posters.
In truth the décor is a bit 1980s; but there’s nothing wrong with being a bit old fashioned if it’s comfortable and it certainly is.
It’s hearty food rather than fine dining.
To start the meal two of us tackled their tasting board.
To be honest, for those of you with smaller appetites, I reckon this could do for your total meal.
The highlights were the chorizo rounds in a delicious sticky sauce and a piquant smooth chicken liver pate.
There was also a miniature fish and chips, butternut squash Arancini, and a large salmon fishcake.
Despite the presence of chorizo and French black pudding (served with a soft poached egg and a smooth hollandaise sauce) the Tannin level says that it tries to source as much of its food as locally as possible. Bravo!
There was also lots of local gin on show, and the bottled water was from Yorkshire. But why go to Driffield for your water?
I have to admit to being a bit disappointed when not served Harrogate Water in our local restaurants.
I can fly on British Airways, travel on Virgin East Coast and even visit Lords Cricket Ground and drink Harrogate Water.
I love the fact that by serving our water all of them are promoting our Spa Town.
Please fly the flag for brand Harrogate?
Water made Harrogate famous.
There is no Harrogate wine (yet!) so we were able to sample the wine list with a clear conscience.
We chose South African; a fresh Chenin Blanc matched the scallop starter perfectly.
We drank Pinotage, which was delicious and went very well with rump of lamb that was well cooked (pink) and served in a lovely shiny sauce.
We finished the meal with a wonderful lemon and raspberry panna cotta; just the right amount of wobble!
The staff were very happy to give us four spoons so we could all have a taste.
Service was friendly and very efficient.
Cherif, fronting the restaurant the night we went, gave us and the other diners a warm welcome and seemed genuinely interested in making sure that we had an enjoyable evening.
The Tannin Level has been going for 30 years now.
Let’s hope it’s still welcoming Harrogate diners for another 30!
Based on this experience I’m sure it will.