Buon Apps, Otley review: Classic Italian fare in a fine setting with a view to rival all views

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Classic Italian fare in a fine setting with good food and warm hospitality and a view to rival all views. Otley's Buon Apps, Italian Restaurant and River Lounge, never disappoints.

This family-run gem has long been a local favourite, housed in a stunning mill conversion and with a fabulous garden terrace overlooking the River Wharfe.

What a view, as the river thunders past, and it's the restaurant's location that sets it apart. That and the old mill building itself, sympathetically converted to celebrate its roots while accentuating its modern decor, setting sleek glass walls against old stone and with black and white photographs of the old mills dotting the walls.

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Then a flavour of the Mediterranean in reaching vines, as terrace lights twinkle against the backdrop of the passing river.

Buon Apps, Hartley House, Mill Lane, Otley. Writer: James HardistyBuon Apps, Hartley House, Mill Lane, Otley. Writer: James Hardisty
Buon Apps, Hartley House, Mill Lane, Otley. Writer: James Hardisty

We're impressed as we walk in, and that genuine Italian welcome shines through in our host's smile that instantly puts us at ease. He is more than good; approachable and attentive, with perhaps just a hint of humour at our lively discussion over dessert.

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First was Halloumi frites (£9.50), golden crisp, served with a chilli and lime jam so moreish it quickly disappeared. Then Ravioli All ‘Aragosta (£16.95), with a decisive ripple of the sea in egg parcels of lobster, crab and ricotta in a langoustine bisque. Rich and flavoursome, it was served with an impressive helping of juicy and deliciously fresh tiger prawns.

The Pappardelle Bolognese (£13.95) is a classic dish, done remarkably well. Ribbons of fresh pasta accompany a hefty slew of tender slow cooked beef ragú in a spicy and rich red wine sauce that shouted of Italian herbs.

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Buon Apps, Hartley House, Mill Lane, Otley. Image: James HardistyBuon Apps, Hartley House, Mill Lane, Otley. Image: James Hardisty
Buon Apps, Hartley House, Mill Lane, Otley. Image: James Hardisty

Then it got adventurous, with a Mousse all'Avocado (£6.95). Incredibly thick and rich, the first bite was all chocolate, with a promised hint of Maldon sea salt shining through in bitter sweet cocoa contrast. Then the taste of avocado arrived, with an earthy tang and subtle texture and buttery nut hue that, for me at least, may have been a little too much. Bold and creative, it was well worth a try, though perhaps in smaller portions.

Buon Apps has a reputation to uphold, having drawn the likes of Jay Rayner in its past, and I was keen to see if his report of 'a very nice lunch' holds true. I would argue it's well worth more.

Scores

Food: 9/10

Seared Scottish king scallops served with roast celeriac puree, black pudding bon bons, crispy Parma ham and celeriac crispsSeared Scottish king scallops served with roast celeriac puree, black pudding bon bons, crispy Parma ham and celeriac crisps
Seared Scottish king scallops served with roast celeriac puree, black pudding bon bons, crispy Parma ham and celeriac crisps

Value: 8/10

Atmosphere: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Factfile

Address: Hartley House, 50 Mill Ln, Otley LS21 1FE

Telephone: 01943 468458

Opening hours: Weds-Thurs, noon-8.30pm, Fri-Sat, noon-9.30pm, Sun, noon-8.30pm

Website: www.buonappsotley.com