For a busy market town and a through route to the moors and the coast, Helmsley has long been short of a decent restaurant that opens day and evening. That all changed in late 2021 when Sam Varley arrived in Helmsley and opened Bantam and we like it a lot.
Sam has brought influences from previous postings: Duck Soup in Soho, Naughty Piglets in Brixton and one of our favourite discoveries last summer, the Kinneucher Inn in Fife. Shane Leadley works alongside him bringing skills he picked up from his time at the much-admired Noble Rot.
It’s a good team so expect original, expertly produced dishes. Choose a selection of small plates or more traditionally a starter and a main from a menu that might offer chicken liver parfait; a salad of chicory, blue cheese, pear and walnuts; buttermilk chicken, crab and chilli tagliatelle and pigs’ cheek in cider.
There were specials of T bone steak and chips and turbot on our visit and a selection of flatbreads with various toppings, one of which was a tempting sounding smoked aubergine, garlic yoghurt, pomegranate and crispy lamb shoulder.
Expect pleasing puddings, a short wine list with plenty by the glass. In all, Bantam is a pleasantly relaxed and welcoming restaurant open for lunch and dinner and perfectly pitched for Helmsley.