Book a table at one of Yorkshire’s finest restaurants before the secret is out…
By now, you’ve probably heard of Grantley Hall. Mere months after opening, this 5-star retreat was named one of ‘the best new luxury hotels in the world’, but what you might not realise is that the food is as good as the rooms – and we’re not just talking about Shaun Rankin’s Michelin Star. Their second restaurant, EightyEight, is a pan-Asian sensation that offers a contemporary twist on classic dishes, all made with the best Yorkshire produce. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll think nothing of the scenic, hour-long drive to Ripon because the food is worth every mile.
Familiar, yet refined – an eight-course adventure in Eastern cooking
Head chef Shane Zhao has previous. She cut her teeth at some of the best fine dining establishments in Leeds, including Chophaus, Tattu, Stockdales of Yorkshire and Crafthouse. But now, she’s taken over the kitchen at EightyEight and created something new. Her mastery of the menu since arriving in Ripon has been a real statement of intent. You won’t forget Shane’s food in a hurry. It’s Asian cooking reimagined. Classic dishes, made to surprise and delight.
For a crash course in contemporary Asian cuisine, the ‘8 at EightyEight’ tasting menu is a whirlwind of divine dishes. Ingredients you’re used to seeing in a completely different context – Yorkshire beef, belly pork and lobster – are given a new lease of life. How? By pairing them with Asian elements like the piquant citrus-based sauce ponzu, silky ramen noodles and tangy hoi-sin to create dishes that are curiously familiar and yet utterly new.
This is fine dining at its very best. Across eight dishes, you can try the whole spectrum of Asian flavours. Royal Asian Consommé, subtly favoured with chicken, shitake and Asian greens, is reimagined with a rich earthy hit of summer truffle. Delicate spring rolls are filled with 5 spice Yorkshire duck, pak choi and subtly sweet preserved cherries. Lychee sorbet cleanses the palate before you feast on coconut sticky rice and handmade mango confit.
The meat-free version of the tasting menu is just as good. Pumpkin dumplings are tea-smoked and twinned with maitake mushroom, while the Korean Fried Cauliflower is dipped in butter, shallow-fried and coated in chilli paste, ready to dip in their vegan chive aioli. At first glance, the ingredients may sound simple, but Shane’s carefully considered menu reinvents them, inviting you to rethink your preconceptions and rediscover Yorkshire’s homegrown produce.
Food for sharing – an a la carte that brings people together
The a la carte menu is designed to give you a taste of Asian culture. Sharing culture that is. From little snacks, like tuna tartare and vegetable tempura, to small plates and mains you can all plough into, eating at EightyEight is a wonderfully sociable experience. Although no one would blame you if wanted to keep every last one of those plump scallops to yourself, not when they come still sizzling from the plancha grill with an oh-so-moreish sprinkling of shredded pork belly.
If you’re not in a sharing mood, the large plates are more than ample enough for one, with a choice that will tick all of your boxes. Iberico pork pluma – that intensely flavoured, marvellously marbled cut – has spiced sweet potato and perfectly crunchy crackling for company. Sea bass fillets offer a bracing taste of the sea that show a mastery of subtle spicing. The sambal, in all its spicy glory, is never allowed to overshadow the delicate flavours of the fish.
By the time you’ve made it to sweets, you’ll be pleasantly pogged, but be sure to leave space for their delectable desserts. The Japanese Garden is a masterful marriage of black sesame sponge cake, shiso leaf, raspberry and citrussy yuzu. A garden in miniature, it’s so delicately beautiful that you might not want to plunge your spoon in, but once you’ve tried the first swoon-worthy mouthful, you’ll demolish it so quickly that no green-fingered gardener could rescue it.
Come Sunday, things get even more interesting. Roast dinners might not seem like an eastern tradition, but you may want to rethink that after you join EightyEight for the ‘Sunday Sharers Menu’. After starters and snacks, you’ll be presented with Shanghai duck or robata flat iron steak, with gossamer-thin pancakes and steamed bao buns ready to fill with goodies. Add pickles, fresh greens, rice and soup for a beautifully balanced sharing feast to rival any roast.
The full package – a foodie destination in the heart of the countryside
Food isn’t the only thing you come for. The drinks menu is itself a thing of beauty, with aperitifs drawing on such ingredients as yuzu and matcha. Try the Old Nashi, which brings together Hibiki whisky, spiced Asian pear and plum bitters, or go for the RYU, which takes Haku Vodka to new heights with a mix of lychee, dragon fruit, hibiscus, lime and fiery ginger. And for a local twist? Taplin & Mageean gin hails from Yorkshire and earns its place in drinks like the Princess Momoko.
Can’t decide? You can try six cocktails in miniature form with their Sakura Tree of Life. It’s the perfect way to taste your way around the menu. If you’d prefer to keep it simple, or perhaps pair your drinks with your food, they have all bases covered. Premium beers and spirits, sit alongside a handpicked collection of sake and wine, with a Champagne menu that will leave you spoiled for choice. It all adds up to a destination restaurant that you’ll be talking about for a very long time.
And we haven’t even told you about the location yet. Grantley Hall is tucked away in the heart of the Yorkshire countryside, surrounded by 30 acres of immaculately landscaped grounds. It’s here, amidst the greenery, that you’ll find EightyEight. Their terrace looks out over the Grade II listed Japanese Garden – after dinner, take a stroll among the bamboo and ferns as you seek out the hidden stepping stones, nestled between rocks carved from nearby Brimham Rocks.
Inside, the dramatic, design-led décor grabs your attention. It’s the perfect setting for a one-off foodie experience – a lustrous, lacquered space that spills out onto the terrace. Rich velvet booths, curved and faced away from each other, give added privacy, so you can almost believe you have the whole place to yourself. Enjoy the mood lighting both inside and out, as you watch their expert mixologists whip up cocktails or enjoy the sunset from their fully covered terrace.