Restaurant review: Go Down, Clifford Street, York

Restaurant review: Go Down, Clifford Street, York
1 Feb 2014 @ 11.38 am
| Food & Drink

ron-godfrey-headshot-caricatureRon Godfrey assesses where The Go Down must take a step up


If you’re going to harness the power of the internet to market your restaurant, make sure that it’s up-to-date.

At home Mrs G and I slavered at some of the cyber offerings on the fixed price menu on the website of the Go Down restaurant in Clifford Street, York.

But after we took the five steps down into the basement of York House (a journey from which the place takes its name) the fact that we were pre-armed with our choices in this clandestine review came to nought because… they simply weren’t there.

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How were we to know that there had been a change of menu?

What is more, while the one and two course fixed prices remained the same – at £12.50 and £15.50 respectively – the three course bundle had gone up from a cyber £18 to a real £18.50.

True, the waitress, listening to our complaint, did offer to rustle up the missing meals, but we declined for the good but unspoken reason that it would be senseless trying out food not readily available for YorkMix readers.

The restaurant is below York House on Clifford Street
The restaurant is below York House on Clifford Street

The interior

The uninspiring décor of that L-shaped restaurant didn’t prepare us for anything too creative or inventive.

I understand that a dreary green and cream look was recently painted out into something much fresher with clean lines, reflections from a large mirror and a bright, cheerful lit-up ornament looking like an unseasonal, straggly, light-speckled Christmas tree.

But all that attempt at modernity was let down when you looked up – at the boring, faded polystyrene-like ceiling panels.

And the focal wall adornments – large architectural drawings of ancient buildings and wooden vintners’ plaques – failed to leave me pulsing with fascination and anticipation for the food to come.

So… at the Go Down the only way now, it seemed, was Up – and so it proved to be, starting with slick, friendly and sometimes genially chatty service.

The food

We were tempted to go a la carte, but some of the prices, particularly the steaks for which I understand the Go Down has earned a good reputation, were daunting.

At £27.50 for a 12oz fillet steak, I’d want certificated evidence of the cow’s pedigree. Even the 20oz rump steak was cheaper at £22.50.

There was a good variety of main courses, ranging from £17 for chicken Kiev to £18.50 for seafood, beef medallions or venison.

Vegetarian offerings in the a la carte menu included a filo purse of mushrooms, brie and sun-dried tomatoes and goat’s cheese tart, each at £15. Desserts were £6.

Instead we opted for the fixed price menu.

My choice for starter wavered between black pudding (with roast potato in red wine sauce topped with bacon) and a fresh market produce soup.

But finally I couldn’t resist a creamy risotto with roast butternut squash and chestnuts (which also appears on the a la carte).

Mrs G’s choice: a salad. And it was all preceded by a complimentary tiny hot bread loaf with two pats of butter, one of them herb-flavoured.

The presentation of both starter dishes was amazing, my risotto so laurelled with greenery it could have been a Caesar’s crown; the salad rich in colours of lettuce with blue cheese dressing and sprinkled with crispy bacon and baby tomatoes.

And the taste? We hummed a yum in unison.

To wash down our main course, Mrs G ordered what was described as a “smooth and succulent” South African Pinotage from Gordon’s Bay, not far from where I spent my childhood in the Cape. I chose a US-grown Diet Coke…

Mrs G's colourful salad and smooth wine
Mrs G’s colourful salad and smooth wine
The mains: 'posh bangers' and confit of duck
The mains: ‘posh bangers’ and confit of duck

I was disappointed with my “Posh Bangers” – grilled venison sausages. The bangers were tangy enough but hard – probably the nature of the beast rather than the chef’s fault.

It all tasted a whole lot better when I dipped it into accompanying grain mash and tongue-tingling port sauce.

I shared with Mrs G bowlfuls of roast potatoes, swede and red cabbage as meanwhile she marvelled at her confit of duck and creamy mash with apricot and Madeira sauce.

“Just look how tender is the meat – look at the way the duck falls off the bone,” she said, twitching her fork at it. “It’s cooked to perfection.”

I stuck to the two course menu because puddings are out of bounds to diabetics, but Mrs G was now rolling her eyes in ecstasy at the taste of her tiramisu describing it as a “perfectly balanced blend of coffee and amaretto flavours”.

I enjoyed my coffee flavour too – a cafetiére priced at an extra £3.20.

It seems that when it came to the food at the Go Down they got it right everywhere but on the website.

Afterthoughts

The Go Down, run by Penelope and Peter Taylor, is situated between two solicitors and opposite a Pizza Hut in York House, Clifford Street, York.

Established 19 years ago, it is open seven days a week 5.30pm – 9.30pm. No disabled access because of the five steps.

At the time of writing it was ranked number 21 of 668 York restaurants reviewed in Trip Advisor which awarded it a Certificate of Excellence in 2013.

The bill

Large glass of Pinotage £5.95
Diet Coke £2
Salad followed by confit of duck, then tiramisu (set menu) £18.50
Risotto followed by posh bangers (set menu) £15.50
Cafetiére £3.20

Total £45.15

The verdict

Food: Goes down well ★★★★
Service: Smiling and attentive ★★★★
Ambience: Unexciting ★★
Value: Reasonable fixed price menu ★★★

Overall rating: – just over ★★★


The Go Down Restaurant | 15 Clifford Street, York YO1 1RG | thegodown.co.uk | 01904 640117