BEING the meat eating half of an otherwise vegetarian partnership, it's not often that I get to eat in what is ostensibly a steakhouse.

The reason for this is simple: the menu choices for my other half are usually unimaginative at best – the obligatory mushroom risotto – or, worse still, practically non-existent.

So finding that rare common ground – a meat specialist offering an exciting vegetarian menu – is manna from heaven.

Working on this principle, we happened to be passing the Whippet Inn on North Street, York, and, after one look at what they had to offer, knew we had to try it.

Formerly the Yorkshire Hussar pub, the restaurant opened five years ago and serves British produce with a menu predominantly based on steak.

Once inside, all traces of the former boozer are gone, to be replaced instead with bare brick walls and a smattering of period features.

Review night was not our first visit here and we made sure that we arrived with a healthy appetite having skipped lunch knowing from experience that we would be well fed.

In anticipation of a generous main course we selected a couple of choices from the nibbles menu to share. Crispy fried gherkins with sweet chilli sauce (£2.20) and sourdough bread with Yorkshire rapeseed and nut dukkha (£2.20).

The Yorkshire rapeseed was a very interesting alternative to olive oil. It was tasty whilst being a little lighter – a very welcome change.

The nut dukkha was a mix of finely chopped nuts, spices and seeds, it made an excellent crust for our crispy fried gherkins once we’d ducked them in the sweet chilli sauce. The spice from the dukkha, the sweetness from the chilli sauce and the sourness from the pickled gherkins were a really intense flavour hit to kick our dinner off.

For mains I opted for the 21-day dry aged rib-eye steak (£23.60), which came with homemade chunky chips and a watercress salad topped off with blue cheese butter (an added £2.50).

If the prospect of the steak on my plate wasn't mouth-watering enough the taste itself was delicious, and cooked medium rare it was just right. The size of the steak, though daunting at first, proved not to be any trouble and the blue cheese 'butter' turned out to be an extremely flavoursome sauce – the perfect accompaniment.

Jordan went for the roast aubergine and tahini wrap (£13.25). Incorporating as it did the aubergine and tahini as well as charred lettuce hearts and seaweed broth finished with sesame sees and red chillies. The effect initially was of very nicely cooked vegetables. Tasty but not very inspiring.

What he discovered after a couple of bites though, was that the real flavour fire power was in the broth packed with umami and salty flavours he tipped the broth over the wrap and transformed it into a real treat.

The waitress had mentioned that he’d ordered a lighter dish and he was glad that he took her advice and ordered a couple of sides – homemade chips (£2.75) and garlic mushrooms (£3).

He said that he really enjoyed dunking these in the left over broth so as not to waste any still pooling on his plate.

We both thought that the chips were very good indeed. Fluffy inside and crispy out. Do not hesitate to order them, they will not go to waste.

For afters, I went for the dark chocolate pot with coffee mousse and candied coffee beans (£6.50), which came in a shallow dish with the mousse covering the chocolate base.

The coffee and the chocolate together were an intense flavour sensation and, for the first few mouthfuls at least, the candied beans added extra texture. If anything, my only complaint here was that there could have been fewer of these as their woody aftertaste was a little overpowering – not to mention their propensity to get stuck in my teeth.

Jordan chose the aerated rice pudding with mulled wine berry compote, a pumpkin and honey granola (£5.75), and when it arrived the texture was not what he had imagined at all.

The rice pudding was entirely smooth with no whole grains of rice in it. The texture was given over entirely to the granola and compote. This was not your school dinner rice pudding. The taste was familiar and very good but the extra dimension given by the variance of texture truly made for a novel twist on this traditional comfort food.

We washed our dinner down with a bottle of the Shiraz, on the grapevine, which at £20 was towards the cheaper end of the wine menu, and did very nicely.

In total the bill came to £82.65, which for the food we had, we felt was great value.


The Whippet Inn, 15 North Street, York, YO1 6JD

Tel: 01904 500660


Ratings (out of ten): Food 8, Ambience 6, Service 8, Value 8