December 13, 2018

Our verdict: La Trattoria, Helmsley, North Yorkshire

Owner Francois Strydom behind the bar (CREDIT Chris Lazenby)

Nestled in the heart of Helmsley’s picturesque market square, after passing through the doors of La Trattoria we instantly exchanged a chilly, fog-drenched autumnal night for a wonderfully warm oasis full of colour and life. The place was positively buzzing!

With just 25 covers ‘cosy’ is the word, yet without feeling at all cramped, even with the presence of a bar in the corner that had, like a flame to a whisper of thirsty moths, drawn in patrons eager for nothing more than a drink and a chance to soak up the crackling atmosphere. Throughout the evening proceedings were kept suitably stoked by owner, Francois Strydom, who flitted hither and thither between tables, ensuring that any empty glasses weren’t left empty for long.

As good as the bar and the ambience were, the bar hounds that weren’t sampling the food were certainly missing out given the culinary delights that awaited us…

Crispy Squid (£6)

First up was the Crispy Squid (£6), little whorls of battered deliciousness served with lemon and an accompaniment of tasty mint dressing and garlic aioli. Selected from the restaurant’s Small Plates Menu, in all honesty we could have easily gone for any of the other mouth-hydrating dishes on offer. Our other choice was the Large Mussels (£6), which also hit the mark, being both pleasingly meaty and well cooked, helped along the way with a generous lashing of spicy tomatoes.

Large Mussels (£6)

After such a promising start we eagerly awaited our mains with growing expectations…

The Asparagus Risotto (£12) was beautifully creamy, almost melting in the mouth, contrasting nicely with the crispy slivers of the (optional) prosciutto and al dente discs of asparagus.

Asparagus Risotto (£12)

The Pork Tenderloin Milanese (£14), meanwhile, with the accompaniment of black truffle and a duck egg, made for a solid protein-rich dish that was perfect for warming our core, both physically and mentally, after escaping the cold autumnal night we’d left waiting outside. Proper soul food.

Pork Tenderloin Milanese (£14)

Complemented with what turned out to be a well recommended vibrant bottle of a rich chocolately Pablo Walter Malbec (£22.95), the evening’s food was every bit as heart-warming and mood-enhancing as the atmosphere offered by this quaint and utterly unpretentious little Italian restaurant.

Pablo Walter Malbec (£22.95)

You’d be well advised to secure yourself a table to see for yourself. Just be sure to book early!

To book a table visit: www.fatchefcompany.co.uk/la-trattoria/.