Six Poor Folk looks like a gingerbread house; wonky and quirkily coloured. The name is explained on a plaque on the wall – a survey in 1611 listed the building as a hospital for ‘six poor folk’. It’s unusual and I was intrigued.
From the outside it’s not easy to know what it is. A restaurant? A café? A bar? The line through the O in Folk suggests a Nordic influence and once inside the refreshing contemporary interior confirms the theme.
Friendly members of staff showed us to our table situated in part of the restaurant with more of a café feel – an impressive looking coffee machine and cake counter create a break in the space between bar and dining. Upstairs a bigger mezzanine dining area makes good use of the large window looking towards the market square. There’s a private room for celebrations and meetings – but there’s definitely nothing corporate about this place; it’s got just the right amount of edginess with leather banquettes, neutral shades complemented by the occasional pop of colour and a menu like a vintage cinema listings board.
The owner, Nick, gave us some background on the restaurant, explaining the building’s former use, and adding that it’s also been a family home, pizzeria and lingerie shop. He also told us that the meat comes from a Ripon butcher, fish from the Yorkshire coast, and they stock local beer but not exclusively. I had a glass of the Bodega Santa Ana Reserva Malbec (£25.50) – smooth and tasty but quite pricey. The craft beer on offer is more reasonably priced. My fiancé had a Yorkshire Founders IPA (£3.80 a pint) – very good, followed by a Brooklyn Lager.
I always find a simple menu with just a few options for each course reassuring – you can be pretty certain everything will be cooked there and then. I opted for Pork Rib Salad as a starter (£6) followed by Salmon with Beetroot, Endive and Lentil Salad (£12). He had Mussels (£6.50) as a starter and Hanger Steak and Chips for the main course (£11). Service was slick and the Pork Ribs were heavenly; the meat slid off the bone and the sticky marinade was glorious. The mussels with smoked bacon, thyme and garlic were perfectly cooked and full of flavour.
The salmon was cooked well with a crisp skin; no sauce to overcomplicate it but instead they let the fish speak for itself. Flavoursome lentils and yummy beetroot were a worthy accompaniment. The steak was ordered medium rare which in hindsight was perhaps a mistake on our part; with such a flavoursome cut we should have been brave and gone rare, but it was still terribly good. I am a total chip snob and always judge a place by its chips – Six Poor Folk scored very highly. A confit tomato, rocket and parmesan salad was the ideal companion.
Classic Eton mess (£5.50) for him – delicious and summery – and a brownie with salted caramel and lemon mascarpone (£5.50) for me to finish. I’m not convinced my brownie worked that well with the lemon marscarpone; having said that, I wolfed the lot!
I was impressed by the standard of food at such a reasonable price and can see the concept being successful in Knaresborough – an innovative café-cum-bar-cum-restaurant with a well thought out menu serving good honest food to appeal to all ages at any time of the day is just what this town needed.
I can think of a few other Yorkshire towns which could benefit from such a clever eatery; this little place is full of promise.
25 Castlegate, Knaresborough HG5 8AR
01423 869918 www.sixpoorfolk.com