Andrew Pern’s York Minster Refectory already has the royal seal of approval so we headed along to see if we commoners could eat like kings too....

You can’t fail to make an entrance when you walk up to York Minster Refectory and even if you’re just stepping up in your trainers to order a coffee and pastry to go, there’s no missing the regal nod to this now famously royal restaurant.

How they must have smugly chuckled behind the scenes when it was announced that King Charles III and Queen Camilla would be officially opening this stunning new refectory restoration when they visited York at Easter.

Great British Life: The fabulous Fishmonger's Platter - with a view. (c) Olivia Brabbs PhotographyThe fabulous Fishmonger's Platter - with a view. (c) Olivia Brabbs Photography

And no doubt the team will never rub down the chalk board that proclaimed a welcome to the nation’s king and queen. It stands in the entrance to York Minster Refectory, the former home to York Minster School.

It really is a proud and impressive building which we visited on a sunny spring day – fully intending to have lunch inside but then unable to resist the lure of a table in the sunshine with a cracking view of York Minster. That is the extra on the menu that you don’t have to pay for.

The outdoor setting is beautifully green, spacious and pretty inspiring; part of a grand new cathedral quarter that definitely brings a sense of ‘big European city’ to York. It is somewhere to sit down soak up the sense of history at your feet – perhaps particularly welcome if they’re the achey feet of visitors who’ve walked the walks, climbed the tower and mooched round museums in this city.

Great British Life: The bar area is cosy and inviting. (c) Olivia Brabbs PhotographyThe bar area is cosy and inviting. (c) Olivia Brabbs Photography

The cleverness that lies within is that you can stop at the takeaway kiosk, have coffee and brunch, gather for cocktails, eat alfresco or head inside for the gourmet blowout that Michelin Star Andrew Pern is renowned for. All of it an homage to Yorkshire ingredients and headed up by Joshua Brimmel, executive head chef of Pern’s other York restaurant, The Star Inn The City.

We pondered over the outside and inside menus. They had me at asparagus and a soft egg, which I knew would be a super seasonal taste of Yorkshire – but ultimately unable to resist the rays which, let's face it, are non-too frequent, we decided on sharing a Fishmonger’s Platter from the Terrace Menu.

This was a smashing idea because as well as being a bit showy-offy to fellow diners, it literally gave you a flavour of a good chunk of the a la carte starter menu. On a ‘what will I have next time’ basis (because I will be back...), I’m definitely singing the timely praises of Coronation Crab – perfect Whitby crab with Indian spices, raisins, almonds. Yep, fit for a king. The platter included a couple of oysters, hefty chunks of delicately-flavoured smoked North Sea halibut and slivers of punchy treacle cured salmon. There were pickled mussels and clams sweet and gentle in flavour, not lip-puckering, and what they called a ‘little’ prawn and marie rose cocktail. It wasn’t little. Accompanying this were refreshing sweet house pickled cucumbers and dill crème fraiche. It was a lavish feast that was abundant in portion size, great value at £30.

Great British Life: Andrew Pern, right, and Refectory head chef Joshua Brimmel. (c) Olivia Brabbs PhotographyAndrew Pern, right, and Refectory head chef Joshua Brimmel. (c) Olivia Brabbs Photography

In a pre-lunch famished state, we had somehow managed to add to our order ‘some fries’, as you do. We may have expected a less generous platter from that fishmonger.

It’s hard to resist ‘pulled Yorkshire lamb shoulder, skinny fries, pickled red cabbage slaw, Yorkshire ‘feta’, mint yoghurt’. We didn’t. Loaded fries of a fancy kind. The lamb had been on a ‘low and slow’ journey to juicy, fall-apart sweet and unctuous perfection – and good chunk of a portion. Mingling with the slaw, spud and cheese, it was a food dream – and this was the ‘small’ size at just £8.

We loved the smiley staff in their wind-cheating refectory jackets who were patient with our in-out dithering – and who were able to summon up a delicious mocktail for me - of ‘something a bit strawberry and minty’.

This place is definitely the corgi of catering; long live the food royalty in this kitchen.

The bill for two: Fishmonger platter, loaded fries, tea, coffee, mocktail and prosecco, £59.

Great British Life: The welcome for the king and queen is going nowhere... (c) Olivia Brabbs PhotographyThe welcome for the king and queen is going nowhere... (c) Olivia Brabbs Photography