An expert food blogger’s guide to York dining
There are very few historic cities as well-preserved as York, where a stroll down the Shambles and the view of the Minster have remained as unchanged pleasures for centuries. History fans don’t have a total monopoly on York’s charms just yet though – it’s also becoming more and more of a haven for dedicated foodies.
It’s been a great year for Yorkshire, and it’s not just the successful Tour de France that’s putting the county firmly on the tourist trail – it’s also gaining a solid reputation as a hub of fine dining, so we spoke with Jill Turton, co-founder and food critic at restaurant review site SquidBeak to get some fresh insight into this booming scene of diverse tastes and broad cultural inspirations.
Turton begins, “My colleague Mandy Wragg and I have been working as restaurant inspectors for national food and hotel guides for many years, we also have a regular restaurant review column in the Yorkshire Post so we were well placed to keep up to date with the restaurant scene in Yorkshire. People were always asking us where to eat so we decided to pool our knowledge.”
We asked Jill to comment on what she and Mandy have learned from the Yorkshire food business since the site launched in 2011, and she suggests that the success of local eateries like Ambiente Tapas, Pig and Pastry and Filmore & Union shows that there is a growing appetite for informal, relaxed dining at reasonable prices without compromising on quality. The barrier to culinary excellence – it seems, has lowered, and the path to a top-class meal is opening up to broader demographics.
Jill’s top four restaurants in York
York is teeming with British history and evidence of industrial sea change, so it’s likely that visitors to the city will want to seek out British dining classics. While the area boasts a range of esteemed eateries offering afternoon tea and classic fish and chip dishes, the international market is expanding along with the local palate.
“We have a host of lovely tea rooms serving traditional afternoon tea, while our fish and chip cafés are mostly in the suburbs, while the restaurants are actually quite international,” Jill adds. “We have Oshibi which is Korean, the French Cochon Aveugle Il Paradiso is a cheap and cheerful Italian and Barbakan is Polish.
“British food is hard to define. Melton’s – which you might consider British, is based on French classics using Yorkshire produce with a York born owner whose family come from Denmark. How British is that?”
With that in mind, we take a look at Jill’s top four restaurants in York:
Melton’s on Scarcroft Road has rightly become known as something of a county institution, offering a diverse range of dishes to an unshakably high standard. Warm yourself with a bowl of piping hot mushroom soup with ingredients sourced from local suppliers, or indulge yourself with Scandinavian-style home cured salmon dusted with horseradish snow and soused vegetables. The menu’s mains are plentiful, and one standout offering is the duo of goose breast and goose terrine served with hot chestnuts, mashed potato, swede fondant and red cabbage. After your meal, take some time to stroll through the city and drink in the night air as you return to the Park Inn by Radisson York City Centre.
Make Mannion & Co the next stop on your tasting tour. This deli, bakery and bistro is located in the historic centre of the town and has a distinctly European feel, with tempting croissants, delicate fruit tarts, and artisan breads sitting alongside British classics like the humble sausage roll. Say what you will about the Anglo/French relations, when it comes to afternoon tea we make a dream team. Order a sandwich platter or charcuterie board, take your pick from the extensive range of teas, and grab a table in the tiny garden hidden at the back.
From the continental feel of Mannion & Co, continue on towards Filmore & Union, a slice of Scandinavia in the heart of Low Petergate. Kitsch and cool are the bywords here, and the cafe’s gluten-free cakes not only look great, but taste amazing too. Head upstairs and take in the picture-perfect view of York Minster while you’re tucking into your food. If you’re feeling like doing a Bradley Wiggins yourself, try a protein boost lunch from the fitness menu for a guilt-free refuel.
Not only does the House of Trembling Madness have one of the best pub names in the UK, it’s also got a hearty menu with delicious pub classics such as pies, stews and sharing platters complemented by some great traditional ale. The Medieval drinking hall contains part of the oldest Norman house in York, while the roof is supported by 800-year-old ship beams. Visit the pub late at night to enjoy the candlelit atmosphere with a sizeable mug of mulled wine.
Have you ever eaten at a restaurant in York? Do you have any foodie tips for the city? Let us know below.