Sometimes, I find dining for one brings better clarity than anything else. A chance to sit, in solitude, watch and reflect – it also means I can happily eat three courses without judgement.
On a weekend a good while back, I took the time to visit York – my favourite place for a little rest and recuperation. I’d heard much about Ask Italian, and the fabled Grand Assembly Rooms within which it is set, so I took the plunge and made a booking to mark the end of my shopping trip.
To start I opted for the Croquettes (£5.75) which were a trio of potato croquettes, into which mozzarella, pecorino cheese and a mixture of beans and peas had been mixed. Accompanying the dish was a spicy dip of tomato and basil, served in a little pot. Initially after ordering I was worried, thinking I had made the wrong decision, and chosen something too heavy. In my typical manner I already had spied a dessert I wanted to try and was desperate to make it to three courses.
Thankfully the addition of the beans and peas to the mix meant that the dish was lighter than I anticipated. Each croquette was crisp, and of a good size, a very tasty way to start the meal. The dip was perhaps more spicy than I would have preferred, but I am very much a lover or flavour and not spice. I did find that it was a sharp, yet pleasant way to offset the richness of the potato and mozzarella.
I had seen much on Instagram prior to my meal of desserts topped with a chocolate dome, which is melted when hot sauce is poured over, to reveal a surprise inside. Ask Italian had two such choices on the menu, one with chocolate and another without. Defying habits of norm and thus to bring the whole meal to a conclusion I chose the Berry Etna special (£6.75).
The Berry Etna comprised of a sweet, small tartlette topped with a smooth white chocolate dome, which melted away with the hot berry sauce to reveal fresh juicy strawberries and smooth vanilla gelato. It may have looked a little messy towards the end, however in an inviting way, and I enjoyed every spoonful. I was a little sad that I wasn’t able to pour the sauce over the dish myself, however I understand that it needed to be almost molten in temperature to melt the dome.
Accompanying my meal I drank only the Sea Breeze Mocktails (£6.50 each), a crisp and refreshing blend of apple & cranberry juice with soda water. In the large glass they quite looked the part with an almost ombre effect between the juices and soda water. I found this was not only the ideal drink to cleanse my palate, but the perfect thirst quencher after pounding the pavement, and amassing quite the collection of shopping bags.
The total for my three course affair came to £30.95, including the drinks, of which I had two. I don’t think this is overly expensive, perhaps more than I might pay in a similar Italian restaurant, but Ask Italian commands more because that is what it delivers. Throughout my meal I was waited on by Ania who was very attentive, but not at all overbearing. I think she appreciated that I had come in for a chance to sit, pause and reflect, not rushing me onto the next course or out the door.
The setting for my meal was the all too impressive Grand Assembly Rooms, a vast and atmospheric venue which allowed me to absorb the atmosphere and the chatter of other diners. There was, at one stage, a rather upset baby which I didn’t even mind. I took time throughout my meal to observe and admire the details in the room – the large pillars, the lights and even the marble statue I discovered watching over my table.
I enjoyed the meal thoroughly and I found each dish to be well executed, with the service to match. If you’re in York and have someone to treat, or even have a craving for one I would thoroughly recommend Ask Italian, if this has got your taste buds tingling check out their menu here, just make sure you leave room for pudding though!