I have read mixed reviews, and taking advantage of a gift certificate that we received, we went yesterday. York was filled with people strolling on the streets, and the day beautiful.
We got there at 6:45 and were seated immediately in the porch like outdoor area. The restaurant itself is quite lovely, with a wood-fired oven. A rum punch drink was too sweet.
The problems then began, and somehow I can't imagine how this Titanic-clone could contain Lydia Shire's signature.
Bread was stale and dry, the individual corn breads like sawdust in the mouth.
A lobster bisque-like stew was acrid with burnt butter and very few pieces of obviously reheated tough lobster. This was in stark contrast to a similar version served at Locke-Ober that we had recently. A nasturtium salad contained two sad flowers, wilted and falling apart. A ravioli in brown butter sage was inedible and sent back. The ravioli were sitting in literally a 1/4 lb of melted butter that had no reseblance to anything I have ever eaten. The butter was tepid, and the one ravioli tried was cold in the middle. It was taken off the bill.
The main course worse still. An obviously good duck breast, ordered rare, arrived well done. It was returned and taken off the bill. My wife's diver scallops were just plain weird. Again, very good scappops, at one point, were cooked with a glaring red coating, sweet and unpleasant. They also were ordered rare and were overcooked. What made this dish inedible was burnt shavings of ginger, again in a pool of tepid butter. We did not return this, and the two of us made due with it.
Our waitress, who was extraordinary, and obviously disturbed by the kitchen, offered us free desserts, which we declined.
What has been other experience? Did we go on an off night? Given the price point, very high, I'm not sure an off night is acceptable. Also, what a contrast to the wonderful food at Biba and Locke-Ober.
I had heard that Susan Regis (longtime chef of Lydia's at Biba) left rather abruptly this spring and they had just recently found a replacement in June. Given the difficulties of securing good seasonal help at tourist locations, I'm not at all surprised to hear that the experience was poor. Taking over a kitchen at a tourist location in June when things are already in full swing and there's little hope of hiring and training decent talent is a complete mess. Not enough time in the day to gain any ground. I have yet to eat at Blue sky and knowing the circumstances, I'll wait until the fall before I go when the new chef has had time to breath and gain proper footing with the place.