PS. I am afraid to say the Old Vicarage no longer has a Michelin Star in 2017.
My ‘Michelin Star’ adventure continued recently, as fourth on my list of Yorkshire Michelin stars was an enjoyable lunch at The Old Vicarage, Ridgeway on the outskirts of Sheffield.
Sheffield’s suburban sprawl suddenly ends in a serene, green village. Turning into the Old Vicarage’s sweeping tree lined drive and the memory of the concrete chippies and endless betting shops that you have to thread your way through is already old. The building’s appearance does not give a clue to the dishes being prepared within.
A smiling, smartly dressed man heaves open the vast gothic door and you are ushered quickly into a comfortable lounge, oils in rococo frames, oak panelling, and slightly fading upholstery.
Chef/owner Tessa Bramley has been in residence here since 1988, held a Michelin Star for 16 years, has an unbroken entry in the Good Food Guide for the last 25, and is the author of a number of cookery books. So she should know a thing or two about cooking.
The genteel dining room is elegantly furnished and the tables dressed with crisp white table cloths and place settings with shiny cutlery.
The brisk service by the same smartly dressed gentleman who welcomed us, presents an immaculate amuse of butternut squash with truffle.
Next up, my starter, Norfolk asparagus on wild garlic leaves, ricotta dumplings and St George’s mushrooms, saffron and orange mayonnaise. So light and delicate.
The cooking here is capricious and completely modern without being flashy.
It’s said that Tessa gets her inspiration from the surrounding fields and woods, cooking with the seasons and plundering the coast and countryside. She’s been doing this for decades, long before foraging was fashionable.
A piece of perfectly roast fillet of local lamb with confit of the shoulder arrived accompanied by baked jersey royals and semi-dried cherry tomatoes, minted peas with spring cabbage and sautéed sweet breads. Perfectly delightful.
Choosing dessert is tough, but in the end there was only one for me in the middle of summer. English strawberries with elderflower clotted cream, elderflower granita with sauternes jelly, strawberry ice cream, black pepper tuille and butter puff pastry.
We took tea back in the lounge with petit-fours.
It would have been a ‘fuller experience’ shall we say if there had been more diners there to add to the atmosphere. This is not to take anything away from the food and service which were all excellent.
They don’t hand Michelin stars out to just anyone. In fact you can count on two hands the stars held by women in the UK. How blessed we are that two of the most naturally talented chefs in the country are in Yorkshire, Tessa Bramley here at the Old Vicarage and Frances Atkins’ Yorke Arms in Ramsgill. And how glad am I that judging the book by its cover, I got it entirely wrong and ended up eating a most memorable meal of my ‘Michelin’ year.