February 26, 2021

Roots becomes first restaurant in York to be awarded a Michelin star

Roots York has become the first restaurant in the city of York to be awarded a coveted Michelin star in this year’s Guide for Great Britain and Ireland.

Tommy Banks and his family launched the restaurant in September 2018 alongside friend and restaurateur, Matthew Lockwood. Housed in a Tudor-style building and former pub, Roots sits across from the River Ouse and runs alongside the beautiful museum gardens on Marygate, York.

The restaurant’s tasting menu (starting at £95pp), designed and executed by Head Chef Sean Wrest, alongside Tommy, reflects each of the growing groups as defined in Tommy’s cookbook, Roots, and includes; The Preservation Season, The Hunger Gap and The Time of Abundance, while also showcasing the current harvest from the Banks’ family farm.

Michelin has also bestowed its sister restaurant, The Black Swan Oldstead, with its new sustainability emblem – a green four-leaf clover – which recognises sustainable gastronomy and distinguishes restaurants taking responsibility in the conversation of resources and the protection of biodiversity.

The Black Swan Oldstead has held a Michelin star since 2013 and is headed up by Tommy Banks and Head Chef Kevin Brown. The restaurant has a philosophy with a strong focus on the land, innovation and self-reliance, which brings the family, chefs and front-of-house together to work collectively; whether designing and making furniture for the dining room, planting and harvesting on the land or preparing and serving dinner.

A devotion to an unrivalled level of self-sufficiency pervades every aspect of the business throughout the year. Smoking salmon, producing cheese and yoghurts from which the whey is caramelised to form an accompaniment to a langoustine dish – no ingredient or by-product goes unnoticed. Boiling egg shells down to produce a water rich in potassium for the plants, and using coffee grounds as fertiliser are just a few examples of the family’s all-encompassing approach to sustainability.

Head Chef Sean Wrest and Andrew Hayes-Watkins

Tommy Banks, Chef Patron of Roots York and The Black Swan Oldstead, commented: “Roots has certainly developed and evolved since launching in September 2018. We set off with lots of different ideas – some stayed, others didn’t. A few things have remained a constant; our commitment to local producers and self-sufficiency, as well as one day reaching Michelin potential.

“I am really proud to be the first restaurant in York to win a star. It’s a testament to the team’s hard work and hope it shines a spotlight on the diverse food and drink scene in York.

“Our family farm in Oldstead formed the premise of our business, so biodiversity and sustainability were always central to what we wanted to achieve at The Black Swan and Roots. Over the years, we’ve been lucky enough to grow the business with a team that shares our ethos.

“This year has undoubtedly been a challenging one but it has shown us more than ever before the value of what we have on our doorstep here in Yorkshire – amazing suppliers, a fantastic team and phenomenal produce.”