Monday, 30 December 2019

A few great places to eat and drink in York

I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from York’s food and drink scene.

Having visited the city a number of times in my childhood, my enduring memories were of the realistic pooh smell at the Jorvik Viking Centre, the magnificent Minster and the Diagon Alley-esque Shambles rather than of a gastronomic destination.

But, with a little bit of research (#YorkEats on Insta was particularly helpful), it quickly become apparent that this compact and beautiful city has a wealth of innovative small plates, filthy street food and A-list craft beer. 

Here’s a run-down of what Mrs G and I guzzled and imbibed in a greedy 72 hours. If you’re into your food and booze then I can’t recommend York highly enough.

Le Cave du Cochon

The younger sibling of Josh Overington’s acclaimed Le Cochon Aveugle, this cosy wine bar and bistro serves modern French-influenced small plates and delicious wines by the glass. 

I guzzled a fruity Beaujolais (£9) whilst Mrs G kept it hip with a funky-nosed orange wine (£7.50). 

Everything we ate was huge flavoured and seriously delicious.

A signature boudin noir macaron (£3.50) made perfect sense. A crisp and squidgy unsweetened macaron shell was loaded with unctuous black pudding and tangy richness-balancing plum chutney. 

A sweet-fleshed dainty slip sole (£9) was bathed in a Vadouvan spiced curry sauce. Buttery and heady with aromatic spicing, it was cleverly cut through with citrus. 

The brilliantly buttery meaty ooze of bone marrow (£10) was taken up a notch by piling it with slow cooked ox cheek, acidic sauerkraut and warming horseradish. 

A deep-fried aged-beef mince pie (£3.50) blew my mind. A thin and crisp cocoon of pastry was stuffed with sweet, aromatic and tender salt beef mincemeat with a silky-fattiness; there was no beefiness to it whatsoever. Genius. 

Shambles Kitchen

Located on York’s most touristy street, Shambles Kitchen has no right to serve delicious food. They could churn out overpriced rubbish to one-time-visiting-tourists with no repercussions. But, a Shambles Reuben (£7.50) was the kind of sandwich I’d come back for time and time again. 

A crusty anise-fragranced caraway seed bun was loaded with juicy and yielding house-smoked fat-on pastrami, aromatic kraut, sweet and tangy house sauce and a blow-torched melt of cheese. This is as good a Reuben as I’ve eaten on these fine shores. 

House of the Trembling Madness

This ramshackle taxidermy-adorned medieval ale house has a history which dates back to 1180 AD. It’s the kind of place where you’d expect to drink badly-kept room temperature real ale rather than an impressive range of A-list modern craft beer. 

Mrs G and I guzzled thirds of hop-loaded Fuerst Wiacek and Verdant IPAs, Northern Monk grapefruit soda IPA and a big bruiser of a North fig and almond Imperial Stout. 

Spark York

Spark is York’s answer to the wave of street food market halls which are spreading across the UK. Part box-park and part circus big top, they have a range of delicious traders from ramen and bao buns to sloppy burgers and pizza. 

Bar No. Nine served a good range of Northern craft beer including a silky and tart Goose Willis gooseberry fool sour from Brew York. 

Clucking Oinks’
buttermilk fried chicken tenders (£7.50) were absolutely bang on. Juicy of flesh, well-seasoned and gorgeously crisp of crumb, they were accompanied by flavour-packed blue cheese, sriracha mayo and buffalo dips (3 for £2). 

Doner Summer
may have the best name of any street food vender in the UK. But, with a great name comes great responsibility. Thankfully their Berlin-influenced vegan kebabs and currywursts more than live up to the hype. 

Our Doner Teller (£7) saw a mountain of properly-crisp golden fries loaded with a cornucopia of delights - nicely spiced and tender vegan doner meat (which was a more than convincing imitation); fresh and cleansing red cabbage, carrot, tomato and spring onion; poky scotch bonnet sauce; honking aioli; and the crunch of crispy onions. 

A face-meltingly good chocolate chip cookie from Lotte the Baker was served straight from the oven - crispy, buttery and oozing soft dough, it was loaded with gooey melted dark chocolate chips. 

Drake’s Fish and Chips

They don’t make fish and chips like they do up North. Take the Magpie Cafe and Colman’s as cases in point. 

Drake’s is another belting fish and chip shop with four branches across Yorkshire. When I arrived at midday the place was packed with people making the most of good value senior specials.

I ordered a regular haddock and chips (£11.45), including a pot of tea, buttered white slice, creamy tartare sauce and proper homemade mushy peas. I also added a pot of thick curry sauce (£1.10) for good measure.

Both the fish and the chips were absolutely top notch - a golden bubbly-battered cocoon sheltered perfectly flaky fish whilst a good mound of chips were very crisp and very fluffy. 


It’s impossible to visit York and not make a pilgrimage to Betty’s, a Swiss-Yorkshire tearoom with a history which dates back to 1919 and a permanent queue outside its doors. On previous visits I’ve guzzled their Fat Rascals (a fruit and nut studded scone), Sachertorte and Engadine Torte. 

This time, I just had a Yorkshire Curt Tart to take away (£2.50). Enjoyably short pastry was filled with citrus-fragranced currant-studded cheese curds. 


The window display at Appleton’s pork butchers and pie makers is a sight to behold. From pork and black-pudding pies to steak pies and scotch eggs, everything looks deliciously bad for you. 

A sausage roll (95p) was buttery and flaky of pastry with juicy, well-seasoned sausage meat. It was a serious step-up from Gregg’s for just a few pence more. 


You can read my full write-up of Tommy Banks’ Roots here. Like its older sibling the Black Swan at Oldstead, Roots’ focus is very much on local and seasonal produce.

A high end take on fried slice saw nutty fried rye bread topped with a breath-devastatingly good wild garlic and charcoal emulsion, nuggets of crispy pork crackling and a wafer thin slice of fatty and porky lardo. 

A staggeringly clever and tasty carrot and chicory tiramisu (£9.50) combined bitter chicory caramel, crunchy shortbread, dehydrated and rehydrated carrot with the texture of fruit pastilles, sweet carrot custard and aerated chicory custard. Wow.

We stayed at the Lawrence (£175 for two nights), a lovely row of loft apartments overlooking a private courtyard which are located just a short walk from the city centre.

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