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The Old Liquor Store, York – Italian-influenced heaven 

Set in the historic Grade 2-listed former Terry’s Chocolate Factory and nestled between York Racecourse and the award-winning Bishopthorpe Road, The Old Liquor Store name pays homage to its confectionery heritage. Located in what was originally the Transformer House, it’s widely believed that this was subsequently used to house coffee beans and barrels of rum imported from America for chocolate making, with the rum being added to truffles in Terry’s All Gold boxes.

Following a sympathetic refit, the property remains steeped in history, providing the perfect backdrop for an atmospheric, relaxed dining experience. Working with renowned designer, Banjo Beale (winner of the BBC1 series Interior Design Masters in 2022) the building has been restored and repurposed to ensure the decor maintains most of the architectural features and reflects its manufacturing and confectionary legacy. The original tiling has been retained and walls are adorned with photographs and memorabilia from former Terry’s Chocolate Factory employees.

The kitchen is headed up by renowned local chef, Matt Leivers, who has over 10 years’ experience in some of the UK’s finest Michelin-accredited restaurants. He’s using his skills and expertise, honed from his days at the Star in the City, York, the Star Inn Harome and York Minster Refectory, to create something completely new at the Old Liquor Store.

His focus is on using Yorkshire seasonal produce to create Italian-inspired cuisine, a modern take on classic tapas and sharing plates. The evolving menu changes regularly to make the best use of seasonal ingredients and offers tasty, high-quality dishes. Matt’s signature dessert is a Terry-misu, available on special occasions which is attracting a loyal following from locals and is a further nod to the former chocolate factory.

Matt is joined by sous chef, Jack Wheatley, and this venture marks the fifth kitchen they’ve worked together in over the last 10 years.

The Old Liquor Store opened in July 2023, and is an Italian-influenced restaurant, café, wine bar and deli, offering a fusion of contemporary Mediterranean small plates and sharing platters as well as brunch, lunch, dinner and Sunday roasts.
When Wine & Dine Yorkshire was invited to sample the evening menu, we were keen not only to try the food but also to take a look at the interior.

Lunch is served Wednesday to Saturday from 10am-3.30pm with a choice from the breakfast menu featuring avocado on sourdough, bacon butties, scrambled hen eggs, a hearty breakfast and ricotta pancakes, as well as deli sandwiches and sides from 12pm.
Dinner is served from 5.30pm to 9pm with a choice from the small plates menu featuring dishes of olives, homemade bread, oysters, caponata bruschetta, scallops and cod loin as well as sharing platters and a selection of pizzetta and sides.

Let’s not forget the Sunday roast, served 12pm to 4pm, with a choice of starters, mains, sides and desserts.

Upon arrival, we were directed to our table, presented with the menu choices and given time to browse over the options. We opted to share four small dishes and a side, the idea being we would leave just enough room for a dessert.

First to grace the table was the caponata bruschetta, agrodolce sultana and pine nuts. Presented with four generous portions of crispy Italian bread, this dish set your tastebuds alight with your first bite.

Shortly after we tried the pan-seared king scallops, roasted red pepper risotto, crispy squid and bottarga. Ooohh… those succulent scallops accompanied with the light crispy squid was simply a small taste of heaven.

Next up we had the OLS fried chicken wings with aged balsamic BBQ. This dish was the one we were most wary of, purely because neither of us are a massive fan of BBQ. You are probably reading this now thinking ‘why order something you don’t like’, but there was method in our madness. We thought the balsamic vinegar may dull the BBQ taste… but wow, it didn’t disappoint. The flavours from the balsamic BBQ were literally something else. The chicken was so succulent and fell off the bone, this dish turned out to be one of our favourites. A definite must try.

Lastly, but my no means least, we had the braised chicken leg, caper and lemon linguine, roast chicken butter sauce and crispy skin. What a burst of flavours this dish was, the lemon hit you with every single mouthful. We have certainly never experienced flavours like that before, a totally unique dish.

For our side we opted for the gorgeous decadent flavour of skin-on fries with truffle and parmesan.

Now, it was time for dessert. We were both quite full from our choice of small plates, so we decided to share one. We opted for the bitter chocolate and cocoa nib mousse, cannoli pastry, and ricotta with ‘The Lord General’ rum ‘n’ raisin. This dessert had different textures and flavours in abundance, a lovely dish to finish off the meal.

As we returned home, we were already planning a return to The Old Liquor Store which boasts heaps of flavoursome dishes leaving you wanting to go back for more.

The Old Liquor Store, Bishopthorpe Rd, York YO23 1FT
01904 950147

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