Yorkshire Life Luncheon - Scott's, Bilbrough Top, York
PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 November 2015
Guests join us for lunch at a North Yorkshire restaurant where fish, chips and fun are always on the menu
Words by Jo Haywood Photographs by Andy Bulmer
How do you like your ‘one of each’? A sprinkling of salt and a good dash of vinegar perhaps. A great dollop of tom sauce or tartare for delicious dipping maybe. Or artistic swirls of mayo (each to his own, I suppose).
We all have our own way of customising the gift from the culinary gods that is good old fish and chips, but whatever your choice of condiments and add-ons, one thing remains resolutely the same at Scotts – the incredible warmth of the welcome.
For owner Tony Webster and his hard-working teams in York and Helmsley, three things are key: quality, value and service. And it’s the last item on that essentials list that perhaps makes the most difference.
‘Our biggest and best asset is our staff,’ said Tony as our guests gathered at his Bilbrough Top restaurant for a lively lunch amply seasoned with chat and laughter. ‘People expect to eat great fish and chips when they come in our restaurants but they might not expect the high level of service they get too.
‘We try from the word go to recruit the right people. They have to be friendly and have a sense of humour – the quirkier the better. Yes, our fish and chips bring people back, but I think the warmth of our welcome also plays a vital role in our success.’
But what about those award-winning fish and chips; what makes them so special? It begins, it seems, at source. Scotts recently achieved MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) accreditation for its dedication to supporting sustainable fishing and a coveted Q Award (Quality Food Award), an honour that is only bestowed on the very best of the best.
‘It’s a difficult, competitive business,’ said Tony, ‘but it’s worth the effort to get it right. Only 250 shops nationally have the Q Award, which puts us in the top 11 per cent. And only two per cent are MSC certified – that’s 48 shops in total. We’re very proud of our achievements, but that doesn’t mean we can afford to sit back and bask. We’ve got to maintain our high standards each and every day.’
Scotts is aided in its efforts by its quality suppliers. It only uses two fish suppliers to ensure consistency and continuous quality, and sources all its potatoes from a trusted Lancashire grower.
Scotts of Bilbrough Top lunch
Angela Collier, Emma Woods, Sarah Proctor
Angela Kay, Hellie Maxwell
Anthony White, Lucy Artley
Carolyn Frank, James Mills
David Laybourne, Gale Filburn
Scott's Fish and Chips
Jane Webster, Jacqui Hall
Jean Webster, Peter Dibnah
Jo and Martin Pickering
John and Lynne McBride
Kelly Ford, Carol Harrison
Caricaturist Ray Allen, Lyddie Beech
Rebecca Francis, Michelle Brown
Sarah Barrowby, Neil Faddy
Shane White plates up fish and chips
Shane White, Roxana Vasai, Tony Webster
Toby Cockcroft, Julian Rich
Tony and Jane Webster
Battered cod fresh from the fryer
Dining at Scotts
Terrine of confit duck and Yorkshire ham hock
‘It’s about developing real relationships with our suppliers so we know we’re serving our customers the very best each and every time,’ said Tony. ‘Our sea to plate policy is faultless – we know where every piece of fish comes from. Our core ingredients might not be the cheapest, but they are great value because we know we’re consistently getting the very best.’
A fact that can now be happily attested to by our lunch guests, who tucked into fish, chips and mushy peas with impressive gusto. They also enjoyed an impressive starter of deeply savoury duck and ham hock terrine, balanced beautifully with piquant red onion marmalade, and a generous trio of puds, created by Bilbrough head chef Roxana Vasai.
‘She’s an amazing young woman; she works her socks off,’ said Tony. ‘She’s officially one of the top ten young friers in the UK (coming sixth in Young Frier of the Year 2015) and she still finds time to make all our desserts.’
He also paid fulsome tribute to chef manager Shane White, who has a fine dining background that brings added finesse and style to Scotts’ dishes.
‘He’s been with us from day one,’ said Tony. ‘He likes to stay in the background but he plays a daily role in our success. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without his skills and knowledge.’
Shave has used his expertise to create a full gluten-free menu at both restaurants and is now working with the rest of the Scotts’ team towards full Coeliac UK accreditation.
‘Many shops offer gluten-free menus perhaps one day a month, but we offer it every day,’ said Tony. ‘And we haven’t gone down the breaded route either. Our gluten-free customers want battered fish and that’s what they get – it’s just made with a rice flour mix instead.’
Proof, if ever it were needed, that Scotts is officially the home of fresh thinking as well fresh fish, and where the bubbling heat of the frier is consistently matched by the warmth of the welcome.
:: For more information about Scotts, visit scottsfishandchips.co.uk, call 01904 700189 or 01439 772465 or, better yet, simply pop in for lunch at Bilbrough Top, York, YO23 3PP or Bridge Street, Helmsley, YO62 5BG.
Canapés: chicken satay skewer; goats’ cheese blushed tomato cup; smoked salmon and crayfish pinwheel; baby fish cake
Terrine of confit duck and Yorkshire ham hock with red onion marmalade and gluten-free thyme crostini
Fish and chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce
Trio of desserts: ginger sponge and custard; raspberry cheesecake; strawberry pavlova
The Gavel Shiraz
This single varietal Australian shiraz offers a delicious balance of elements. It’s packed with ripe, spicy fruit and has a luxurious velvety mouth-feel that makes it a perfect pairing for rich meats and deeply-flavoured dishes.
Jacana Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
A smart new addition to many wine cellars, this is a classic blend that thrives in the Australian climate. It’s elegant and fabulously fruit-driven with subtle hints of cut grass and citrus fruit.
Sentina Pinot Grigio Rosé
As a beautiful rose-coloured wine, it’s perhaps not surprising that this offers heavy hints of strawberries. It’s clean, crisp fruitiness and lasting finish make it a lighter alternative to traditionally syrupy dessert wines.
:: The wines for our lunch were kindly provided by HB Clark of Wakefield. For more information, visit hbclark.co.uk or call 01924 373328.