The Ambassador Hotel, Scarborough: An elegant venue that could be even better ...

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Hotels are often seen as the preserve of tourists, but are we ignoring quality dining experiences on our own doorstep?

It was with this thought in mind that my partner and I headed off on a cold night to The Ambassador on the South Cliff.

The elegant surroundings were a welcoming sight and the restaurant and bar seemed particularly busy, a good sign on a Friday night.

As we had arrived early we decided to have a cocktail (£6 each) in the bar before taking our place in the dining room.

Thirty minutes later our drinks arrived.

It seemed the barmaid was also one of the two waitresses serving the busy restaurant. Not a good start, though the drinks were perfectly fine.

Upon being seated we studied the extensive menu and found plenty to be excited about.

To start with we both opted for the Pate of Chicken Livers with Toast and Chutney (£6.95). The pate was delicious but the toast was nowhere to be seen, instead we had a bread roll cut in half, the same rolls put upon our table at arrival.

The dish was also unbalanced, coming as it did with a large and unseasoned salad that was far too big for a starter and did not complement the meaty pate.

For the main course my eye was drawn to the Steak Burger (£8.95). I had been lusting after a good burger after watching an episode of Man Versus Food the previous day and this seemed like a good chance to get my fix. I added some cheese for 75p and also a side portion of onion rings.

My partner went for the tempting Lamb Shank, with seasonal vegetables, mashed potato and a rosemary jus (£13.95).

Sadly, I was not asked how I would like my steak burger cooking, which was a shame and it came slightly more overdone than I would have liked. I like my meat rare and it was a surprise not be given the choice.

Apart from that small niggle the burger was very nice, though I hope that the trend for charging extra for cheese is something restaurants phase out sooner rather than later. The skinny fries and onion rings were good and a small 
salad with a balsamic dressing was tasty, though would have been much better with the starter.

The lamb melted in the mouth and both the jus and the mashed potato got hearty thumbs-up from my girlfriend.

The only slight issue was being served both a hefty dollop of mash alongside some new potatoes.

The new potatoes were perfectly adequate but my partner said she would have prefered another texture or flavour, rather than a second helping of potatoes.

The list of puddings was delicious and tempting, with a chocolate and mandarin tart sounding particularly delightful, but alas proved too much for the full bellies of these two diners.

To sum up The Ambassador is not easy.

It has all the ingredients to be a top venue but at the moment too many little things are not right.

For such a big hotel to be understaffed on a Friday night is unforgiveable. The menu is rough around the edges and needs further refinement.Ratings: Food 7, menu choice 8, service 5, decor 8, ambience 7, overall 7