York: food, art and history (with the focus on food)

We went to York for my birthday. I haven’t been before and didn’t really know what to expect. A city, somewhat smaller than Edinburgh, similarly old. And Vikings. Vikings was the reason we went. (It’s a tenuous reason, but there you are.) I was hoping for good food and wad not disappointed.

Tofush from Source - best enjoyed in my company.

Tofush from Source – best enjoyed in my company.

Christopher arranged out weekend away. He booked us a lovely little flat just off Fossgate. It looked central on the map: it was slap bang where we wanted to be. We’d each investigated where we wanted to go before travelling down and several interesting spots were on or just off Fossgate. Here are some of the places we went to.

Cafés and food stalls

Shambles Market

There are lots of food stalls at the Shambles Market. I had a wonderful home-made merguez baguette from Shambles (or maybe Tantuni) Wraps. The baguette was chewy and stuffed full of hot lamb sausages and carrot salad. I also really liked the dahi puri from Nukkad Indian. Since Mumbai Street Food, dahi puri is something I order whenever I can: those cripsy shells with their soft, crunchy and tart content are just lovely.

Merguez baguette. Best eaten in a light drizzle.

Merguez baguette. Best eaten in a light drizzle.

We went back twice, the second day also trying out the vegan curry from another stall. I didn’t take a note of the name: Turmeric something. Delicious and hearty, it reminded me of the huge servings of tasty veggie fare you get at the Mosque Kitchen. The channa masala made me want to play with tomatoes, chickpeas and cumin, cumin, cumin.

Dahi puri is crispy and soft and generally wonderful. Best enjoyed in company.

Dahi puri is crispy and soft and generally wonderful. Best enjoyed in company.

Bar Hashery

A small, unassuming cafe across the road from York Gallery of Art (where we enjoyed Moon Goose Project in particular). I had ‘the scone’ which Instagram has since told me was a fat rascal – a fruit-filled spiced scone that made me very happy.

Fat rascals. Best eaten with butter and a side of coffee.

Fat rascals. Best eaten with butter and a side of coffee.

Nice to See You

Blond wood and smiles on the door. This place does good cheese cake: I had the last of the cinnamon and honey and loved the way the crumb had almost melted into gingerbread dough. Gorgeous.

Cinnamon and honey cheesecake. Perfect with an Americano.

Cinnamon and honey cheesecake. Perfect with an Americano.

Kiosk

There was one table available when we got to Kiosk and we nabbed it. The furniture is all plywood, there’s art on the walls, magazines to buy. The food is vegetarian friendly and the kitchen relaxed from what we could see. I had sourdough toast (huge, amazing) and the granola bowl with compote and yogurt. I topped up with a flat white and was set up for the day. I wanted to have breakfast here both days, but, as they say, variety is the spice of life.

Half of breakfast #1: granola bowl. Best enjoyed with sourdough toast. Legit.

Half of breakfast #1: granola bowl. Best enjoyed with sourdough toast. Legit.

Cosy Time

BEfore we drove home, we insulated our ribs with all things dairy at Cosy Time. I had the pancake stack with clotted cream and granola. I tried to eat it all but couldn’t. Even I can only eat so much clotted cream. The granola was a clever touch: the crunch was welcome. Everything was served very cutely on flower-and-gold china. The ambience was carefree and, yes, quite cosy.

Restaurants

Ambiente

Ambiente is a large tapas place. It looked cheerful, friendly and fast from the outside. It turned out to be friendly, fun and very tasty once we were seated. As well as tapas they specialise in sherry so as well as octopus and potato and the best padron peppers I’ve ever had (one in four were hot – I’ve never met a hot padron before), we had sherry flights. Now I know that I adore sweet sherry and that I think sherry goes with everything. Thank you for converting me to the ways of Jerez, Ambiente!

Octopus and potato. Best served with sherry - amantillado.

Octopus and potato. Best served with sherry – amantillado.

Source

Slow meats. Superfoods. Vegetarian. The slogan took us aback. I wanted to visit, Christopher wasn’t sure but in the end we went. White walls and wood tables were casual. The menu was fun, the wine interesting and we had a lovely time. I liked fish tacos and brisket, Christopher had grilled avocado (genius!) and tofush (the tofu was wrapped in seaweed before it was deep fried, yum!). The service was charming and we felt very much at at home.

Fish tacos from Source. Well tasty when eaten with a zesty white.

Fish tacos from Source. Well tasty when eaten with a zesty white.

 

Bars/pubs

Fossgate Social Club

A long, narrow meeting place for lovers of pints and cocktails alike, this busy bar has and upstairs and a downstairs. We sat downstairs where the colourful art is and drank espresso Martinis. Not the best I’ve ever had but I got a buzz from the atmosphere, so who cares?

Spark

A collection of non-profit businesses in a colourful assortment of shipping containers on a piece of unused land, Spark is a fabby place to be of an evening. We spent some time at Four Swings, a cocktail bar that sold some really very good cocktails. Pedro’s Cream was my favourite. It has sherry (which I have a this for now), cream and egg white in it and nutmeg on top. Christmas in a glass and warming on a chilly evening. The ten-person ukulele band – Ukes of York – that played while we were there would have made anything taste good.

Enjoying a bright green drink in front of Four Swings. Best enjoyed to the sound of ukuleles.

Enjoying a bright green drink in front of Four Swings. Best enjoyed to the sound of ukuleles.

Walmgate Ale House

As traditional as you’d want, quirky and with a good range of beers, this was a pleasant stop to start our evening. We didn’t stay long – just the one – but liked the atmosphere and the flood levels on the wall. York, it turns out, floods.

Bits and pieces

We were interested by the Hairy Fig but it was really busy so we couldn’t get a table. Along the road a bit was Cave du Cochon, the wine bar run by the same people who have Cochon aveugle – a restaurant I’d love to go to but Christopher really doesn’t. Also, we hadn’t booked. The Fig and the Cochon are on our hit list for our next journey to York.

I bought salty licorice in a cute Tudor sweet shop in the Shambles and found that more of the same was offered from the Hairy Fig. Good to know.

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.

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