Refectory Kitchen, York
If you haven’t been to the Principal Hotel in a while then take another look. The mighty Victorian pile that we still like to think of as the Royal Station Hotel, has been given a multi-million pound makeover and the fusty old corridors and draughty public rooms are no more. Now it’s a glamorous, sophisticated hotel decorated in shades of white and grey with the public rooms furnished with elegant sofas, console tables and original art.
The restaurant defies the usual up-market hotel offer by, cleverly in our view, creating a refectory kitchen, actually the Refectory Kitchen, a casual bistro-style restaurant serving homely dishes such burger with bacon and Cheddar, pork chop with black pudding and fish and chips. Lighter dishes include sea bass with brown shrimps, capers and lemon or halibut with bacon. Not every dish was successful, but there was enough that was good to merit a return. Prices are reasonable averaging £9 for starters and £20 for mains at dinner. Set against that, lunch is quite a bit cheaper with the set three course dinner terrific value at £15 for three courses
Decor follows the usual contemporary tropes: wood floors, leather chairs, filament lights and exposed ironwork while tables are dressed-down with buckets of herbs and tea lights. If I was in the mood to start or finish a rail trip in style, the Refectory could fit the bill.