Harrogate has a brand-new cocktail bar and restaurant with an unusual name:63rd+1st. The name apparently comes from the location of the original TGI Friday restaurant (the company behind the new Harrogate restaurant) which opened in 1965 on the corner of 63rd and 1st Avenue in New York City.
Harrogate plays host to the fourth 63rd+1st to open its doors in Britain and arrives in good company alongside others in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cobham. The big question is though – is it anything to get excited about?
Tapas-style plates with a New York twist
Located on Albert Street under the Everyman cinema and just a short walk from Harrogate station there is a lot of culinary competition nearby, with Italian and Belgian-inspired restaurants all vying for your gastronomic attention.
In my experience Harrogate diners tend to be quite traditional in their tastes. There are plenty of places in Harrogate to enjoy a cocktail, but 63rd+ 1st’s idea of offering small tapas-style sharing plates might take a while to catch on. I liked the idea that you could go for a lite bite or add further dishes if you wanted a full meal.
The restaurant was very quiet when we visited, even for an early Sunday evening. The interior feels fresh with a subtle decor that tends to favour calming blueish hues; the welcomely comfortable seating was lavished with more cushions than you might find in a luxury Bedouin tent.
Funky, jazzy music played in the background which did not quite set the mood for a relaxed Sunday evening. Thankfully the playlist was eventually exchanged for some smooth soul music later which more favourably complemented the Big Apple-style ambience.
Excellent food, diverse menus and great service
A novel idea at 63rd+1st is the small tablet provided at your table as an alternative way to order your food and drinks. I prefer the more traditional, personal touch though, and chose to order from the waiting staff. Service was efficient, friendly and attentive; evidently the staff take great pride in their establishment.
Pricewise, the plates are probably on a par with other Harrogate restaurants. To reel off some examples of the original and enticingly innovative fare, the haddock finger taco comes in at £9.00; the 6oz rump robata grill steak, £12.00; and the lobster and shrimp roll, £16.00.
All the dishes we sampled were presented to us piping hot, imaginatively served and were satisfyingly delicious – from the melt-in-your-mouth jammy chicken lollipops and chilli jam (£7.50) to the delightful vegan dish of plant-based chicken taco served with coleslaw, rum and chilli pineapple salsa (£8.00).
I thoroughly recommend leaving room enough for dessert as the magnificent 63rd+1st knickerbocker glory, something of a rarity on today’s dessert menus, (£8.00) was one of the best sundaes I have had.
There are other menus too including a children’s menu, a grazing menu, and a bottomless brunch menu served at the weekend, though might be better just concentrating on the core menu until the restaurant becomes more established in Harrogate.
Excellent food with attentive staff whose attention to detail made all the difference.
What also appealed was the three floral cocktails introduced to celebrate the forthcoming Harrogate Autumn Flower Show. Even a flower garland has been erected at the entrance to the restaurant, which is something out of the ordinary – just like 63rd+1st.