Tapas! They are an exceptional way to indulge in thriving conversations with your friends while nibbling on something totally delicious. What I love most about tapas is the fact that everything is bite-sized and you have the option to try different dishes at the same time. During my travels up north in York, I’ve had the fantastic opportunity to review Ambiente Fossgate in this charming and historic city. Also, I’ve come to discover gourmet Mediterranean tapas with a Yorkshire twist.
Ambiente in Spanish translates to ‘ambiance’ or atmosphere of a place. Although in Spain, the term ‘ambiente’ refers to much more, such as having the ultimate experience with your friends celebrating Spanish-style. This is exactly what the Ambiente restaurants promise to their customers.
Having four local restaurants based in Hull, Leeds and York, you can easily enjoy some tapas with a sherry tasting. All tapas are served in traditional Spanish ‘tabancos‘ to give customers the best Spanish experience. You can learn more about Ambiente here. Also, you can check out this page to learn more about Ambiente at Fossgate, York.
When I first made my through the door, I thought we were doomed. Ambiente looked like it was fully booked. Undoubtedly, as a result of the lively atmosphere inside accompanied with authentic Spanish tapas. I was fearful I might have to wait for a table to become available. Already having been inspired by the beautiful modern and industrial-like interior with nice lighting, with views of an open kitchen, I was very eager to try the food!
Immediately, I received a very warm greeting from our friendly host, who led me to my table upstairs. While I was walking up the stairs, I couldn’t help but notice the buzz and lively atmosphere of the entire Ambiente restaurant. As I sat down, the very pleasant and knowledgeable host took the liberty to order an Introduction Flight of these sherries as a start: Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Fino, Gonzalez Byass Vina AB Amontillado and Gonzalez Byass Alfonso Oloroso.
The sherries had a beautiful nutty aroma, but yielded a beautiful dry aftertaste. As I started tasting these in order, the more complex and evolved the sherry was. Also, I must mention that I’ve learned a lot about sherry from the restaurant staff and especially from the very knowledgeable host. Talking to him was a positive experience that definitely contributed to the overall lively and charming atmosphere of Ambiente.
What a great way to start dinner Spanish style!
Manchego y membrillo
As a starter, I simply couldn’t resist trying proper manchego cheese with the sherry. The cheese was served in delicate slices with a quince jelly. Something I would definitely order again!
Carpaccio de pulpo
This was my second starter. Thin slices of octopus served cold and dressed with quality olive oil, paprika and rock salt. Admittedly, I was sceptical at first with the octopus as it is a very delicate ingredient and can quickly get rubbery. However, the octopus starter was plentiful, flavourful and just what you would expect on your vacation in Spain. A beautiful way to start the meal!
It reminded me of another delicious octopus dish I’ve made recently. Check it out here.
Pinxtos (‘peenchos’) are these small snack sized plates of tapas which are very popular in the bars of Northern Spain and Navarra. At Ambiente, all pintxos are served on tostado made from their own bread and are presented on a wooden barrel stave. It’s always a pleasure to see when a restaurant makes its own bread, isn’t it?
This was a selection of Jambon Serrano, Manchego cheese, membrillo (quince) and boquerones (Spanish white anchovies). A charming plate of authentic food. The bread could have been less dry, nonetheless it did not disappoint.
Carrillada de Cerdo
First of all, this was one of my favourite pinxtos at Ambiente. This slow cooked Iberico pig cheek was served with a sharp apple puree. A delightful combination that made me combing back for more. Also, admittedly I’d find it very hard to share this with anyone. It was very temtping to order it again, but I didn’t dare to as I had a huge tasting ahead of me.
tiras de carne
A wonderfully tender rump steak in a chilli, garlic and rosemary marinade. The shallot purée and sautéed lettuce were an incredible combination. Overall, a visually stunning dish.
Gambas al tempura
These tiger prawns deep fried shrimp were nothing short of amazing! Fried in a lightly spiced tempura batter, it was impossible to stop eating these with the aioli. Truly finger-licking delicious.
Mejillones al la marinera
A classic mussels dish, steamed with white wine and a garlic cream. The sauce was exceptional and intense. However, I did miss something unique to the Spanish experience. In either case, the mussels were fresh and did not fault.
pulpo a la gallega
I highly recommend this dish. Basically, they are slices of octopus serves in the traditional way on a bed of confit potatoes. Also, they had drizzles of olive oil and sprinkles of pimiento and sea salt. The octopus was tender and the balance of flavours were excellent. In two words, plentiful and delicious!
Certainly, this was not the first time I’ve come across patatas bravas. In fact, I’ve made them myself. Get my recipe here. I must admit, Ambiente’s version was just what I expected. Triple cooked potatoes dusted with a special blend of spices with a generous portion of drizzled aioli and tomato sauce. Also, I would have welcomed more fresh parsley as a finish, but overall a very enjoyable dish.
berenjena con papatas a lo pobre
I found this tapas dish the most extraordinary in terms of trying something new. The dish consisted of layered aubergine, feta and tomato on a bed of confit garlic potato finished with aioli. A large surprise was that the aubergine was sweet, drizzled in a honey sauce. In essence, I’ve never tasted anything like it before. Altogether, a real discovery!
Plato de postre
This was a tasting board of most of Ambiente’s desserts. Admittedly, this was the only downside of the evening. First, the ice cream was a tad runny (probably didn’t set properly) and the dark chocolate tart was a bit dry. Otherwise, a solid dessert.
Overall, my overall experience at Ambiente Fossgate York was a positive one. A memorable meal and a journey through gourmet Spanish cuisine with affordable prices. I really look forward to going back and trying something new again! Lastly, thank you to all the excellent staff for the expectational customer service!
Not to mention, you can check out their menu here.
York YO1 9TA
P.S. The meal and wine were provided free of charge in return for a review. All opinions are my own.