View all newsletters
Latest in Luxury - Sign up to our weekly newsletter
  1. Food & Drink
  2. Restaurants
November 30, 2022

Legacy at The Grand Lights Up York’s Fine Dining Scene

Restaurant of the Week: Ahmed Abdalla crafts showstopping dishes with Yorkshire’s bounty of seasonal produce.

By Irenie Forshaw

Arriving at dusk on a crisp, sunny afternoon in November, York’s cobbled streets are filled with shoppers drifting home from the Christmas markets. We are here to visit Legacy – a new fine dining restaurant at the city’s only five-star hotel, The Grand, York. Waiting to greet us at the door are two jovial bowler-hatted doormen. An enormous tree sparkles invitingly from the lobby. If you’re looking for a cozy winter retreat – under two hours by train from London – this might just be your place.

Built in 1906 to house the headquarters of the North Eastern Railway, The Grand is situated a stone’s throw from the station, overlooking York’s medieval city walls and magnificent cathedral. The Edwardian Grade II listed building was transformed into a hotel in 2010 and underwent a dramatic £15m (approx. $18m) refurbishment in 2018, reopening with a total of 208 luxurious bedrooms and suites.

The hotel boasts several drinking and dining spots including The Rise (an AA rosette awarded eatery) and the maroon-hued 1906 Bar, which is well stocked with a large collection of single malt whiskeys. But The Grand isn’t one for resting on its laurels. Earlier this year, the hotel welcomed diners to Legacy – a new gourmet restaurant helmed by talented head chef Ahmed Abdalla. Naturally, we were eager to see if it could live up to expectations.

[See also: Inside Edinburgh’s Hotly Anticipated Gleneagles Townhouse]

The Grand york exterior
The hotel was built in 1906 to house the headquarters of the North Eastern Railway / ©The Grand

We needn’t have worried. From the moment we were ushered into the moodily lit dining room by Derek Scaife, Legacy’s inimitable restaurant manager and sommelier, it was clear we were in safe hands. Of course, the food is the real draw. Abdalla makes a point of leaving the kitchen to greet guests and talk them through his expertly crafted eight-course tasting menu.

“I dreamt about running my own restaurant for years and it’s amazing to be at the helm of something truly unique in York,” he tells us. “I’ve been involved in everything which has allowed me to pour my inspiration and creativity into every aspect of the guest journey. From start to finish, all I want is for the guests to be blown away to experience our region’s incredible ingredients.”


Ahmed Abdalla
Abdalla (pictured cooking at Legacy, The Grand) has honed a unique culinary style rooted in modern British cooking / ©The Grand

Abdalla cut his teeth at some of the UK’s most prestigious fine dining restaurants including Yorebridge House (a three AA rosette boutique hotel in the Yorkshire Dales), Michelin-starred The Dining Room at Whatley Manor, The Swinton Estate and Restaurant Hywel Jones at Lucknam Park.  

He worked closely with Neil Bentinck at the popular Micklegate eatery Skosh (known for its vibrant dishes inspired by Japan) before securing his first coveted head chef role at The Grand. The ambitious young chef is clearly ready to make his mark on the city’s burgeoning restaurant scene.

During his impressive career, Abdalla has honed a unique culinary style rooted in modern British cooking, but with European and Asian influences and the occasional nod to classic French techniques. Above all, he is passionate, inventive, and – as becomes clear over the course of our meal – will stop at nothing to wow his diners.

Content from our partners
Shura Links the Red Sea's New Premier Golfing Destination
Grand Wailea: Experience Heaven, Earth and Sea
Plan the Unexpected with Resorts World Las Vegas' Flexible Dates

[See also: A Guide to All Three-Michelin-Star Restaurants in the UK]


Halibut dish at Legacy
Abdalla’s beautifully flaking fillet of halibut, drizzled with a creamy mousseline sauce / ©The Grand

Abdalla has scoured Yorkshire to find the very best seasonal ingredients – and it shows. The ever-changing eight-course tasting menu at Legacy is a glorious celebration of the region’s produce, bursting with colorful vegetables and freshly caught fish.

The head chef kicked things off with a selection of hors d’oeuvres that set the tone for the rest of the meal. Oysters marinaded in a delicate mirin sauce were followed by crisp cones brimming with trout roe and miniature pastry cases filled with dots of mustard mayonnaise, garden peas, and dehydrated gherkin that conjured the flavors of a traditional ham hock terrine (but looked much daintier).

Celeriac dish at Legacy The Grand
The star of the show at Legacy, The Grand was the salt-baked celeriac dish coated with black garlic and shaved truffle / ©The Grand

Other standout dishes from the menu include the beautifully flaking fillet of halibut, drizzled with a creamy mousseline sauce and dotted with tiny chunks of cauliflower and mussels, and the silky Jerusalem artichoke velouté topped with little pieces of parsley root, Wensleydale, and a parmesan crisp, and served with fluffy parker house bread rolls and whipped butter. But the star of the show was the addictive salt-baked celeriac dish coated with black garlic and shaved truffle and served with chopped hazelnuts.

The desserts also deserve a mention. Rich spiced plums with a gingerbread tuile were followed by a delicate yuzu and elderflower pudding made with honeycomb straight from the bees on the hotel’s rooftop. Each course was thoughtfully paired with wines chosen by Scaife, including a glass or two of Nyetimber (a lovely English sparkling wine).  


Legacy The Grand interiors
Faber has created an elegant dining room in shades of royal blue and cream / ©The Grand

The restaurant itself is intimate and cozy with space for just 26 guests. Faber was brought in for the interiors, creating an elegant dining room in shades of royal blue and cream, with plush leather booths and warmly glowing brass lamps.

In a nod to The Grand’s rich history, Legacy features original oak paneling and a beautiful parquet floor. The walls are adorned with portraits of influential figures who helped shape the modern history of York including ‘Railway King’ George Hudson who controlled over 1,000 miles of railway by the mid-nineteenth century, English diarist Anne Lister, and Quaker philanthropist Joseph Rowntree.

[See also: South Lodge Review: The Ultimate English Wellness Break]

Topics in this article :
Select and enter your email address Be the first to know about the latest in luxury lifestyle. Get the latest news on hotel openings and in-depth travel guides. Get insider access to exclusive promotions and special offers from our luxury partners.
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thank you for subscribing to Elite Traveler.

Websites in our network