I had driven past this interesting looking eatery on several occasions and have to admit it probably took several months before I finally walked through their lovely, welcoming doors. I am not sure what I expected except from the pictures I had seen of their food on their website and it was enough to wet the appetite. In addition, when I made the booking, I was very impressed to be asked about any dietary requirements such as gluten-free. I think this must be the first time I had ever been asked about such things. Coeliac disease awareness is something close to my heart as I have several friends who are sufferers and as a result began offering gluten free afternoon teas at Chez Shamwari.
The setting in restaurant is unusual in that seating around the tables is in small, more armchair-like seats giving a less formal slant to the atmosphere. The table settings are tasteful with fresh flowers from the florist that shares some space next door to the restaurant. The evening commenced with Roland himself providing a detailed explanation of each of the dishes on the menu; a nice touch I thought … then that’s the foodie in me! The service was attentive throughout without being rushed; just what was needed after a stressful week.
The menu was full of interesting choices very much with a French emphasis reflecting Roland’s allegiances.
Interestingly enough, my fellow diner chose exactly the same as me and we were able to compare notes throughout the evening. To keep us going having chosen and ordered, some warm bread arrived and went down very well thank you very much!
For starters, it was Oeufs en Cocotte described on the menu as a ‘French Classic’. The bed of ratatouille with chorizo and baked egg on top all worked very well together. The chorizo was not overpowering and the yolk of the egg, a wonderful deep yellow colour complementing the colours and flavours of the dish.
The main dish was plaice – and I was so eager to tuck into it, I simply forgot to take a photograph! But I can assure you it was cooked to perfection and had the most delicious lemon butter sauce with it. Sometimes these sauces can smother the dish and be too rich; this was nothing of the sort. The wilted spinach and parmesan, herb & brioche crust were perfectly balanced with the delicate flavour of the fish. It was a real hit with both of us.
And so to dessert …
We both love baked cheesecake so without hesitation both chose the baked vanilla & dark chocolate cheesecake. The presentation was very pretty and looked very inviting. I had expected the dark chocolate to be part of the main filling but was actually a decoration on the top which was an interesting interpretation. The cheesecake was quite different from my imagined New York style baked cheesecake (why I thought I would get something like that in a French restaurant is anyone’s guess!). Overall, it was nice enough and a pleasant end to a very nice meal.
We both had coffees afterwards with some lovely little chocolates as petit fours.
On departing, another lovely touch was being presented with Roland’s homemade onion marmalade.
I have been back since this first visit on two occasions: just before Xmas 2012 enjoying a sumptuous Roland’s Christmas-menu2012 and then for one of our Clandestine Cake Club events. Roland and his staff were the perfect hosts on both occasions.
I cannot recommend this lovely little place highly enough. It’s a place with a difference: great food at great value. Don’t wait as long as I did to visit …
398 Skipton Rd
Utley, West Yorkshire
Tel: 01535 958 001