The Box Tree Restaurant is an award winning fine dining experience in the heart of Ilkley, which is a small spa town in West Yorkshire, England. The cuisine served has a French base and is seasonal, so the menu creations change season to season. Over the decades The Box Tree has been awarded numerous awards from the Best Restaurant in Yorkshire, Two and Three Star Rosettes, as well as two Michelin Stars in 1977.
When I had dined at The Box Tree, they had one Michelin Star but it was lost shortly after I had visited. The Box Tree is still a prestigious award winning restaurant; in 2019-2020 they were awarded Hardens UK Top 100 Restaurants, AA Notable Wine Lists, Three AA Rosettes and several other fine gastronomy awards.
As with several of my blog reviews of hotels and restaurants, I had put a hold on posting them during the pandemic. My Box Tree Restaurant review had been one of them. Although I had dined with them prior to the pandemic, I did post my review on Yelp where I have an Elite status.
On one of my many visits to Ilkley, my relatives who live in this small town told me about The Box Tree, and that it was literally a couple of blocks away. At that time, my nephew was working at The Box Tree which made this visit even more special. Since I had a free day I decided to make a reservation and have a nice private lunch with myself. The Box Tree is on a corner of the main road and the exterior is a brown-gray stone, which mimics every building in Ilkley including the house I was staying in.
I arrived for lunch a tad early and was seated in their comfortable front lounge. The tiled ceilings were low but that is common for buildings this old in the UK. The furnishings were classic dark wood, with rich colored upholstery and lovely framed paintings on the wall. The room felt masculine, traditional and relaxing all at the same time. It was a wonderful place to wait for my table.
A few minutes after my arrival, I was offered a hospitable drink. I asked for a Gin and Tonic as I walked up to the little bar behind the host desk. I really enjoy gin and like to know what is on hand before I make my choice. I was given descriptions of the three gins on hand and I chose the Mason’s, with a few orange rinds added. It was brought to me along with a little bottle of Fever Tree tonic, which is my favorite brand. I will always order a Gin & Tonic while in England, as the Brits know how to do gin. It has become quite fashionable, so creating better gins has been one of their past times. Mason’s gin was no exception, it was very smooth and the added orange rinds made it an incredible concoction.
As I sat there waiting for my table, the manager placed a couple of little bites next to my Gin and Tonic, and explained what I was about to partake in. These creative Amuse-Bouche bites were delicious and a mere peek of what was about to be enfolded. What a lovely start to my upcoming dining experience.
After I was seated, I was presented another Amuse-Bouche of a Pumpkin Veloute. It was warm, smooth and the added puffed rice gave it the right texture without going over the top. It was perfect for an October chilly Yorkshire day.
Next, was a crusty sourdough roll with a malt glaze that was accompanied by two variations of butter. The Box Tree must have known I was coming because I absolutely love good butter. The roll was quite hearty but there was not enough of it for all the butter I wanted to eat! The salted butter was formed into an endearing rose and the Marmite butter was definitely my favorite. Marmite has an interesting flavor but add it to butter and see how it changes. This just proves, once again that butter makes everything taste better.
For my lunch I decided on the following off of their seasonal menu: The Hand Dived Scallops for my starter and the Filet of Waterford Beef for my main course. Yes, I did a little Surf and Turf here. Both dishes were beyond excellent in presentation and flavor.
I was recommended the scallops by relatives and sure enough, they were right. The scallops were fresh and seared to perfection, they were flawless.
Hand Dived Scallop, Celeriac Puree, Granny Smith Apple, Smoked Eel.
The Filet of Waterford was definitely a heavier tasting cut of beef. The way it was prepared was very simple and perfect with a bit of rock salt, to bring out the natural flavors.
Fillet of Waterford Beef, Jacobs Ladder, Oxtail Dauphine, Jerusalem Artichoke, CEP and Madeira Jus.
For dessert I ordered the Raspberry Soufflé, which again was recommended to me because it was “something special”. Indeed it was very special! When this sweet soufflé was presented, I took out my camera to video it because I was anticipating something fun was about to happen. My cordial server then took a spoon and made two little cuts side by side. I tilted my head because I was quite intrigued. Then he cut a smile into my soufflé. I just died right there with the cuteness of this soufflé just smiling at me. I am sure it would not be smiling if it knew I was about to eat it! The smiling Raspberry Soufflé was a delicious and delightful choice, and it rounded up my lunch smashingly.
I also enjoyed magnificent wine pairings that were suggested for my delectuble lunch. A glass of 2012 LaCitadelle Luberon for my main course and a glass of Black Muscat, Elysium from California for dessert. Please do not ever skip on wine pairing, a good wine pairing will always make a great meal into an excellent dining experience.
After a fine meal such as the one that I had just enjoyed, a cup of hot black coffee or espresso is my favorite way to finish off. Coffee was served along with a variety of tempting Artisan Chocolates. The chocolates were elegant and served in a stately wooden box. During fine dining experiences, I have been offered after dinner chocolates in this fashion before, and it has always been a sophisticated touch.
I was offered one of each chocolate to have with my black ‘like my soul’ coffee. I tasted each one slowly with a bit of black coffee. I knew that my two hour dining experience was coming to a close.
Everything at The Box Tree Restaurant was perfect, so very perfect- The cuisine, the presentation, plus the wonderful and knowledgeable servers. This is what a dining experience is all about and why stars, rosettes and awards are given. Thank you Box Tree for putting a Raspberry Soufflé smile on this Yorkshire visitor’s face. I will see you again when I find my way back to West Yorkshire. Cheers!
For restaurant information and reservations, please visit: The Box Tree – Award Winning Restaurant Ilkley, West Yorkshire
Food is our common ground, a universal experience…– James Beard
Yours Truly with a Gin and Tonic, at The Box Tree Restaurant
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