It’s been going a fair few years, and we’d never sampled it, so a frosty January Thursday night saw a group of us huddled in the small foyer of Yorkshire Coast College’s Fledglings restaurant, eager to learn.
Learn, that is, how good, or otherwise, it is – we had heard glowing praise.
And the students, themselves eager to learn, didn’t disappoint. Top marks for effort for these budding chefs and waiting staff!
Fledglings is the frontline training ground for the college’s hospitality students, assisted and advised by the staff. When we went it opened three lunchtimes and two evenings a week, with set dining times – fair enough when the “staff” are so young!
Occasionally the restaurant holds gourmet or theme nights, and we, unwittingly, found ourselves in the Mountains and Glens, with a tartan touch to some of the dishes – haggis parcels and Scottish shortbread, for example.
Its reputation is such that, after drinks on the comfy sofas, we joined a full dining room of some 30 people – a current offer of two-for-one meals is helping to “pack ’em in”.
The menu consists of three courses, each with three options. Coffee and chocolate truffles follow.
Our party’s starter choices were cod goujons in a herb breadcrumb, a pleasing opener, and whisky glazed wild mushrooms with garlic cheese. The latter, served on small circles of lightly toasted bread, had a delicious whisky kick, that was repeated later in one of the desserts.
Portion size was just right to leave us ready for more, so with plates removed by the always-attentive waiting staff, we were ready for our main courses. They consisted of braised beef accompanied with a Scottish ale sauce; salmon accompanied with a lime and herb sauce; and spiced vegetarian haggis parcels with Scottish potato scones.
There was agreement that our choices – the braised beef and the salmon – tasted excellent. Both came with generous helpings of mash (piped, not dolloped!), pureed carrot, broccoli and cabbage. The lime and herb sauce was a perfect accompaniment to the fish, and the ale sauce a strong, tasty partner to the beef.
The three dessert choices were wild berry pavlova with fresh cream and a wild berry coulis; Scottish shortbread, poached pear and lavender ice cream; and chocolate, orange and whisky mousse. All were sampled and all given the thumbs-up.
So, good food all round, and the smiles and conversational buzz from every single diner indicated that our opinions were matched throughout the room.
Big ticks on the report, then. A “could do better” anywhere? Well, the beef main course could have been a little hotter, and nerves showed occasionally in the service, but that sureness of touch comes with confidence and experience; those learning the trade can certainly be forgiven that when their welcome is so warm.
It’s a credit to all there that you do feel you’re in a dining environment rather than a teaching one, and Fledglings is not out of place in the town’s restaurant scene. On the contrary, the students’ enthusiasm and attention to detail could teach some others a thing or two.
Menu choice 7