I first went to Meltons Too nearly a decade ago. I was trying to decide on a university and my mum and I had come to York to take a look. I only remember the dessert, which was some incredible chocolate thing (cream and butter and heartattack and chocolate, served cold) that has long since gone from the menu. It made an impression.
Since then, Meltons Too has been one of my default restaurants in York. Nothing in the house? Ah, let’s go to Meltons. Fussy friends and relatives? Meltons is a good bet. Want something to eat after a film? Meltons in on the way home.
The fact it’s less than five minutes from the flat helps.
When we reviewed the Go Down restaurant, we mentioned that York is somewhat overburdened with bistros. Meltons Too falls into this trap as well. It’s little tapas selection is a bit pointless – either tapas should be a random treat that’s free with a drink, like it is in Spain, or the menu should be wide enough that you don’t have to order everything on it to feel full – but the mains are a solid selection of local produce cooked traditionally and well. It errs more to the French than some of the others, but apart from that it doesn’t stand out the way it used to. There’s nothing wrong with the food now, but it just doesn’t make the same impression it used to. And that’s not just me mourning the chocolate thing.
One impact of living so close is we almost never book. Just wander up the road, as the wait time, and decide whether or not to hang around and have a G&T. It’s come back to bite us a couple of time; every time we’ve asked the wait time has been estimated as half an hour, and most times it’s been longer. Obviously, staff can’t go turfing current guests out of their seats, but it’s a little frustrating when you’re already hungry. This time the wait wasn’t so bad – from arrival at the restaurant to the arrival of our food I’d say it was an hour – but the staff were very apologetic about it, and at the end of the meal comped our bottle of wine, which was really sweet considering we hadn’t said anything. The staff are always lovely; a point on consistency across the decade.
We both went for tapas dishes as starters and shared them between us. Both were good. The squid was a little spicier than I like, but I love squid, so I ate it up anyway. The mains had changed since we were last there – they change fairly regularly, but sometimes to very similar dishes – but nothing took my fancy and I went for the pork on the specials board, while Mustard had the beef. From the phrase ‘trio of pork’ I was expecting some Masterchefy combination of, say, a pork pie, a piece of pork belly, and posh ham. What I got was a big slab of pork, with a long slice of chroizo and a big chunk of black pudding, on a nice bit of mash. No pretension, just good pig. Yum. I have no recollection of Mustard’s main, because I was enjoying my own too much.
We were tempted by the chocolate plate to share for dessert, but we’ve had it before (and we’re still recovering from chocolate month). I decided to take a chance on the curd tart with bilbery ice cream, which was an odd choice for me, because at no point in my life have I ever looked at a curd tart and thought it looked appetising. This was to be my first ever curd tart. I think what swayed me was the bilberry ice cream; unfortunately they’d run out, so I had the toffee nut on the basis it wasn’t vanilla. Mustard had the chocolate tart with orange granita, a staple of the dessert menu.
The curd tart was much larger than I imagined, but also warm. I tell you, I am converted to warm curd tarts, especially with toffee nut ice cream. Whatever instincts I was running on, they weren’t mine but they were paying off. Mustard enjoyed his chocolate tart, as he has enjoyed it every other time we’ve ordered it.
It’s a bit odd reviewing Meltons Too. There’s the temptation to review it on the basis of every visit we’ve ever made; to drop the score for being better in the past and for being a little lacklustre the last few visits we’ve made. But that wouldn’t be fair. We had a good dinner, with a good bottle of wine, and good service. We weren’t completely bowled over – it’s a good bistro in a city of good bistros – but if this had been our first ever visit we’d definitely be talking about going back again.
And let’s face it: it’s five minutes down the road. We’re going back again.
Colonel Mustard: I wouldn’t have been particularly bothered about the wait and would have no expectation of being compensated for it, so taking off the wine was a welcome surprise. The food here is perhaps not as good as it used to be (there was a time when this was definitely the best restaurant of its type – bistro food, seasonal menu, locally sourced ingredients), but the beef this time actually exceeded my expectations. Dessert was generously portioned, but its presentation could use a little work.