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[York] Food shopping and local treats (We're coming from the US)

Morganna May 8, 2010 02:47 PM

We are three somewhat adventurous adults traveling across the ocean from Vermont (New England, Northeastern US, in case it matters) to attend a wedding near Manchester the end of June. We decided to spend a week in York prior to going to the wedding, so we've rented a flat there.

We'll have a kitchen so we plan on buying some food and cooking some of our meals, but we'll also be doing a lot of museum visiting, so we'll be eating out a fair bit, as well. We will not be hiring a car, but will be relying on public transport and our feet. I don't have the address of our flat yet, but it is on the river near North Street inside the old city walls.

I'm looking for thoughts from local folks about:

Fish and chips. Any really good spots to get them?
A solid English breakfast (a "fry up"?), not looking for touristy, really, but more than a ploughman's bread, cheese, and pickle.
I've read about Akbar's, Red Chilli, and Melton's for ethnic and uhm, what I'd call upscale dining. Any other ethnic foods that are well-done in, perhaps, a "hole in the wall" sort of place?
What other local favourites are there? For instance, if you were to come to Vermont, I have several solid recommendations for local food, what would you recommend for local food in York?
Pubs? Over-rated? Is there such a thing as "good pub food"? What would it look like and is there anywhere in York that does it? Or am I being hopelessly touristy in my asking that? :)

Over here we have farmer's markets (usually on the weekends) where local meat and veg producers have stalls they sell out of. Is there anything like that in York?
Are there any great bakeries, pastry, cheese, or other food shops not to be missed?
This doesn't need to be gourmet. We're hoping to try things that aren't readily available or common in Vermont.

Any other thoughts about things I might simply not know enough about to ask?

  1. r
    rrems Apr 1, 2011 03:36 PM

    Having just spent 3 days in York, I thought I would report on our dining experiences. We ate very well.

    First, lunch at the General Tarleton in Ferrensby, a lovely dining pub with interesting food. We started with a ewe’s cheese soufflé and a salad of wood pigeon with smoked beets, blue cheese fritters and hazelnuts. Excellent. Main courses were a Taste of Rabbit (roast loin and best end, herb stuffed leg wrapped in bacon, mini rabbit pie, celeriac puree, girolles, broad beans and truffle jus) and Yorkshire Rare Breed Pork (crisp slowly braised belly, roast fillet, GT's black pudding, mock goose pie, plum puree and cider glaze). These were very impressive and very generous portions.

    We had afternoon tea at Betty’s in York. Great pastries.

    Dinner that night was at the Ivy in York. As I posted above, we had been there some years ago, but not since it had changed from an upper-tier restaurant to a more casual brasserie. Apparently there have been several chef changes, but the current chef is doing some really interesting and impressive dishes, with clever and quirky presentations. We had mackerel, chicken wings with corn and popcorn, sea bream, duck breast a l’orange, and a pineapple tarte tatin . I didn’t keep detailed descriptions, but everything was delicious.

    The next day we took a driving tour of the dales, and stopped for lunch at the Grassington House in Grassington. This was quite exceptional. I had tempura prawns to start, can’t remember the other starter, main courses were pork loin with black pudding and cabbage (the chef raises his own pigs) and roast Goosnargh chicken. This is very serious food and beautifully presented.

    Next dinner was at J. Baker’s. We had a salad with white asparagus, venison tartare with smoked chili jelly, turbot filet and roasted duck breast with piquillo pepper, anchovy and olive. For dessert, rice pudding with blood orange, prune and coconut milk, and sticky date pudding with burnt banana ice cream and banana butterscotch. The dishes were more creative than the menu descriptions would make them appear. One thing that was particularly clever was the bread, which was in the shape of a bone, a play on the expression "bred in the bone".

    Next day we drove to Whitby, where we had lunch at the Magpie. Thanks to June for the recommendation. The only unsuccessful dish was a crab cake special, which was really just potato (maybe someone waved a crab over it), not at all what one normally expects a crab cake to be. The crab parcels (smoked salmon wrapped around crab) were generous and delicious. Main courses of dover sole and haddock with leeks and prawns were excellent, and served with huge portions of chips, salad and assorted vegetables. So on the whole this was a very fine meal.

    The last dinner in York was at Melton’s. Again, very creative and delicious food, nice ambience and great service. We started with smoked haddock with caponata, and chorizo with chili and chocolate. Main courses were chicken with mushrooms, shallots, apples and black pudding, and pork 3 ways, confit, braised and fried, with cabbage and potato gratin. For dessert we shared a prune and brandy soufflé, which was extraordinary. Bottled water and coffee are included with dinner, a very nice touch.

    All of these restaurants offered exceptional value for the quality of food and service offered. I had originally planned to stay outside of York, but found that staying in central York was perfect, not only easy to get into and out of with a car, with easy parking (the Travelodge we stayed at had a discount deal with a nearby parking garage, 2 GBP from 5 pm to 10 am), but we were also able to walk to all our dinners.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rrems
      Lake Apr 6, 2011 09:09 AM

      Thanks for your updates and for reviving this thread. I'll be going to York for a few days in July for an event at the Early Music Festival, so I'm looking forward to trying some of your recs then.

    2. Morganna Jun 25, 2010 07:43 PM

      Wheeeee! We're departing tomorrow afternoon and arriving in York around 11:30AM Sunday. I'm so EXCITED. Thanks so much, everyone, for all the great assistance. I'll certainly be reporting back on our experiences. :)

      15 Replies
      1. re: Morganna
        Harters Jun 26, 2010 03:01 AM

        Have a good flight. Summer has finally arrived so you'll have good touristing weather at least into next week.

        1. re: Harters
          Morganna Jun 28, 2010 11:32 PM

          Just managed to get internet, so I can post some stuff! The flight was, as things go, uneventful, the queue at customs was aweful and we should have stopped for food in the airport or train station, but we didn't. Arriving on Sunday wasn't the best choice, couldn't change any cash. Fortunately all the places we've shopped and eaten at so far have accepted our credit card with no fuss.

          Sunday we didn't have much remarkable.

          Yesterday we had lunch at a pasty shop, and I really liked my traditional steak, so did my husband enjoy his. S splurged on a lamb and mint and a traditional. Fortunately there was a LOT of walking. :)

          We dinner at Betty's. S had cauliflower soup that she declared the best she's ever had (no small feat, she's fond of soups and is a professional cook by trade). She also enjoyed her salad plate (four different sorts of salads) and declared them very good. :) She also had the mint tisane, and loved it very much.

          My husband said his club sandwich was servicable (there wasn't much on the menu that appealed to him last night, not sure what he was hungry for). I had the bacon and cheese rosti and it was great! We didn't get a tea, but we might go back at some point. Problem is S is diabetic, so much of what comes out on the tea isn't good for her.

          We've hired a car for today, and we're driving (think good thoughts for me) up to Castle Howard and then on to Whitby and stopping at a supermarket (only small shops in the town centre, of course) on the way back. :)

          Thanks for ordering this weather for us!

          1. re: Morganna
            greedygirl Jun 29, 2010 04:51 AM

            Glad you're having fun and the weather is glorious! Hope the driving isn't too bad - we're quite civilised on the roads as a whole but they are busy. If you've seen the old TV series of Brideshead Revisited, it was filmed at Castle Howard (standing in for the south of England, funnily).

            1. re: greedygirl
              Morganna Jun 29, 2010 12:53 PM

              Lunch at Castle Howard was lovely. My husband and I had a thick slice of pork served with apple and a mustard sauce that was just wonderful. Not over done. Our friend had lamb hot pot that was also great. Shared a cheese scone with my husband that I really enjoyed, as well. The total for our two ork meals plus a bottle of beverage was 21 pounds. There were what looked like some nice, less expensive alternatives as well. I think the pork was one of the more expensive choices.

              After the castle we headed off to Whitby.

              Ok, first, just for the future... in case anyone is wondering... Whitby, in the middle of summer, on a fantastic sunny day (even if it IS the middle of a Tuesday afternoon) is not the place to send a novice-in-the-UK-driver. :)

              If I had only driven to Castle Howard, it would have been fine. I did just fine all the way out of York (finding my way through the streets and all with my husband navigating) and we found our way to Castle Howard without ever getting lost. I guess I got a little cocky maybe, I dunno. We also had problems with our navigation system not working the way it was supposed to, and that contributed to the problems with not knowing where we were, or how to get where we wanted to go.

              So in the end, I was so stressed and panicked and completely befuddled by even finding a place to park long enough to figure out where the heck we were, that I just decided the Magpie wasn't worth all of this struggle and stress, so we didn't go.

              We're having food bought from Sainsburys's (crispy duck for me and S and hamburgers for my husband) because of just being so tired.

              BTW, what IS the speed limit on that bloody highway? Haven't you people ever heard of speed limit signs? :D

              1. re: Morganna
                Theresa Jun 29, 2010 01:48 PM

                Most, if not all, country roads in Britain have a 60 mph limit for single carriageways and 70 for motorways and dual carriageways (ie. with an island down the middle). This reduces to 30 mph through towns and villages.

                Shame you missed the Magpie ...

                1. re: Theresa
                  Morganna Jun 29, 2010 03:06 PM

                  Me, too, but there's other options to give a go. :) No wonder people were passing me so much on the highway, but honestly, I couldn't feel safe driving faster than 55. :)

                  I'm thinking Akbars or Red Chilli tomorrow.

                  1. re: Morganna
                    greedygirl Jun 30, 2010 02:57 AM

                    Yes, it will seem quick if you're from America. Shame about Whitby, but well done for driving at all - I always avoid it like the plague, if I can and luckily Mr GG is an excellent chauffeur!

                    1. re: Morganna
                      Harters Jun 30, 2010 04:28 AM

                      Both Akbars and Red Chilli are northern mini-chains and come thoroughly recommended. They feature heavily on relevent egullet threads - and not just from me :-0

                      Much depends on whether you are fancying Punjabi or Schezuan based food. Although I have no idea how authentic it might be - regular readers will know that I couldnt give a toss for authenticity.

                      1. re: Harters
                        Morganna Jul 1, 2010 01:43 AM

                        We had Akbars and thoroughly enjoyed it. :) Red Chilli tonight. We don't care so much from authentic, just good was the hope. It certainly gave us good food that we couldn't possibly have found in Vermont. :)

                        I met a man at the York Castle Museum, who, after relating our tale from the trip to Whitby told me the Magpie is overrated and over priced, and the place to go for fish and chips in Whitby is The Trenchers. :) He says he's very fond of fish and chips, and that he always checks out all the local places where ever he goes. He had other recommendations, and actually suggested that Wackers in York was the best place for fish and chips here. He said not to be put off by the older clientele because it's cheap and that's why they eat there. :) Obviously I have no idea if he's really good at this, or just thinks he is ;) We're going to be over that way going to the Minster today, so we'll probably stop in for lunch, just to see. :)

                        1. re: Morganna
                          Harters Jul 1, 2010 02:30 AM

                          Make sure you take your appetite to Red Chilli - they really do serve enormous portions. I see the menu is shorter than the one at my local branch and a number of my favourite dishes are mssing. Braised pork belly with preserved cabbage is lovely and will be good if you want to include a dish that doesnt have the chilli fire of many others. In amongst the home style dishes, I see "French beans with chilli". This will be good - in Manchester they also add minced pork - ask if they can do that for you. I'd also make sure I had one of the starters on the table - the cucumber with garlic dip (tangy and refreshing). Many egullet posters have raved about the spicy poached lamb - but all say it is very spicy hot and I have to say too much heat doesnt appeal to me personally. Oh, and their gungbao chicken is pretty good as well.

                          1. re: Harters
                            Morganna Jul 1, 2010 02:32 PM

                            so.. full.. can't... type.

                            Oh it was so so good. We ordered um guotie(sp?) (pork dumplings) and scallion bread for starters. Our friend had vegetarian hot and sour soup (I tasted it but don't much care for hot and sour soup, though that was much better than the kind I've had at the lame chinese american places back home). We all shared. I'd have liked more scallion in the bread, but that's pretty much universally true for me (more scallion!). We ordered shredded pork with chilli, lotus bulb and celery, and pork and green bean with noodles, and got a portion of egg rice to share. It was all, ALL good, and even my husband, who doesn't care for asian food, actually enjoyed it and is looking forward to the leftovers. He said he wouldn't go out of his way to have it, but that's better than he usually says. ;) I LOVED the pork and green beans. I was so pleasantly surprised by how garlicky it is I adore garlic and often just eat it raw and minced up on things.

                            I was tempted by the cucumber and garlic dip but our stomachs are smaller than normal, and I had to limit my choices.

                            I'm so pleased, though, with how different the food there was than we can find in Vermont. Though, there is one restaurant up in Burlington, Vermont that is at least this good, I think, called Single Pebble, but they strive for authenticity there, and don't serve the cruddy american chinese food you normally find all over.

                            We also went to Wackers for lunch. I had the small haddock all inclusive special, S had the plaice and chips and my husband had the yorkshire pudding, which was a bowl of yorkshire pudding full of a lovely oniony gravy with four bangers (well maybe bangers, I don't know for sure what bangers are if they're not sausages) and a pile of mashed potatoes. It was yummy, though the sausages were just eh. I enjoyed my haddock a great deal. I'm just not all the fond of chips, I have to say. But I have always preferred skinny crispy fries to thick potatoey chips.

                            My husband says my yorkshire pudding is better, though. ;)

                            Tomorrow we're going to be buying a breakfast fry up just so we can say we have done. :) For lunch we'll be giving Danish Kitchen a go and we'll be wandering all around the shopping area and going to the national railway museum. Dinner is probably leftovers, we have a lot of leftovers from tonight. :)

                            1. re: Harters
                              mr_gimlet Jul 1, 2010 02:35 PM

                              As a big Red Chilli fan who has eaten most of the menu, my sister who doesn't like too hot is a big fan of the Painter Daiquan (sp?) chicken. The hotpot is fabulous but is really hot.

                              1. re: mr_gimlet
                                Morganna Jul 3, 2010 09:32 AM

                                we ate there again for lunch, I got the pork and green beans and noodles again. My husband tried the pork belly something.. it was delicious. our friend tried the mutton ribs with secret recipe. Very yum!

                                1. re: Morganna
                                  Harters Jul 3, 2010 10:26 AM

                                  Is that the minced pork & beans dish that I suggested you ask for?

                                  1. re: Harters
                                    Morganna Jul 7, 2010 07:36 AM

                                    Nope. :) mine was julienne pork green beans and noodles in a garlicky sauce. We did try the cucumber and garlic dip. LOVED that. :) I'm trying to find the name of the dish my husband had on the menu online... I'm not seeing it there at all. It was strips of pork belly that were almost crispy and I can't remember what else was there. It was all sooo good.

                                    We're back home, by the way. If you ever come to Vermont, give me a shout on the Northern New England board, I'd love to help you find great food!

                                    Y'all have been wonderful! :)

          2. g
            gemuse Jun 21, 2010 12:28 PM

            I can't make any specific recommendations, since I lived in York 15 years ago. I can really enthusiastically recommend the trip to Whitby. I had truly the best fish & chips of my life there a couple times, though I wouldn't be able to remember the name of the specific establishment. Also, the town is one of the most charming English towns I've ever visited.

            I think that in general, fish & chips get done well in the north, and you will probably be happy with most of what you try. Once there, just ask a neighbor or shopkeeper to recommend their favorite chippy. The best places are truly the neighborhood places. Keep in mind, though, that most of them are take-away only, so you do need to go to one close to your flat (or plan to eat while walking), or the whole lot will be cold and soggy by the time you get home. I do remember when I was there that some places still fried everything in beef lard, and that was the note of distinction, though I don't know if that would still be the case, now that people are more health-conscious.

            Betty's tea room is a gem and is timeless in a way that will make you feel like you suddenly fell into a period-piece film. Be sure to try the curd tart, which is a Yorkshire specialty. And on that note, while I don't remember York being especially interesting for restaurants (and that may have changed quite a bit), I do remember that there were a wealth of small butchers, bakeries, cheesemongers and other specialty shops where you will be able to buy all kinds of lovely local foods and delicacies. Be sure to try British specialities like scotch eggs, sausage rolls, meat pies and pasties, pork pies, etc. And you can easily buy everything you need for a big English breakfast at home-- sausages, beans, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and fantastic seeded breads. I think you'll find that food shopping can be one of the most interesting and enjoyable "tourist" activities.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gemuse
              Morganna Jun 22, 2010 07:07 AM

              We are SO looking forward to that, and I hope our friend S would truly enjoy doing a fry up for us (she's a really good cook and works in a restaurant so it might be too much like "work" for her :). We're definitely focusing on British specialities, but there's a great sounding oriental shop not far from the flat that S is particular tickled to check out.

              I'm feeling way more confident about all this since we 'walked' around York using google maps streetview. It's AWEsome :)

            2. Morganna Jun 10, 2010 01:03 PM

              Ok, I've got a suggestion for chips in a village off a ways. Are there any fish and chip shops in York that are OK?

              19 Replies
              1. re: Morganna
                Harters Jun 10, 2010 01:49 PM

                That could be a tricky question. I dont think any of us who have contributed are York natives or residents. And good chips is probably the main area where you need local knowledge. There really is an awful lot of crap out there. You'll probably get a better answer by Googling and seeing if you can find any local review sites.

                1. re: Harters
                  PhilD Jun 10, 2010 01:58 PM

                  I agree with Harters, it needs good local knowledge. When I was a school in York (yes an ex-local) the best F&C shops were just outside the city centre, in and around the main roads as they passed through the city walls (I suspect this was because they were strategic sites on the meander home after a night in the pub). A good tip; it is Yorkshire so plain and basic will probably mean it is best. Anything fancy and touristy will not deliver.

                  1. re: PhilD
                    Harters Jun 11, 2010 04:09 AM

                    "Anything fancy and touristy will not deliver"

                    This statement of Phil's should become a board "sticky" about F&C!

                    I am old enough to remember when Harry Ramsden's was little more than a shack at Guisely and we'd always detour there for tea (not dinner!) when we were coming back to Red Rose country. Some of the finest F&C you'd ever want to encounter. Now it's a chain, it's shite.

                    1. re: Harters
                      Morganna Jun 11, 2010 07:42 AM

                      Is Wackers fancy and touristy? I saw it on a review site. The menu makes me giggle. There's small, medium, and large haddock, but only small and GIANT cod. ;)

                      1. re: Morganna
                        Harters Jun 11, 2010 08:57 AM

                        I've replied to an email from Morganna but for the benefit of other readers, Wackers looks like exactly the sort of place I'd avoid. Yes, it might have an award from the local newspaper (always a helpful clue) but I reckon that places that serve breakfast, jacket potatoes and teacakes have likely diversified too far from being a good chippy.

                        That said, I'm saying that without the benefit of even the slightest knowledge of the place and confess that blind prejudice is playing its part. And that said, on the other hand, I also have nearly 60 years experience of eating fish & chips - as you would immediately notice if ever you saw me :-0

                        It may just as easily be the dog's cojones. Only one way to find out, Morganna......

                        1. re: Harters
                          Morganna Jun 13, 2010 08:07 AM

                          See, one of the problem is, of course, that I know what -I- like to eat, but I don't know if I've ever had "authentic fish and chips" so I don't know if I'd realize what I was eating was that. :)

                          A friend posted on another forum and someone recommended their neighborhood place, a chippy called Jenny's. We might hike up there instead, :)

                          We were walking through York in Google maps last night with our friend who will be going with us, and we're all just so totally psyched for this trip. We remain unconvinced that we're not going to have enough to do to keep us busy the whole six days we have to spend in the area. :) Of course, our friend could spend three days quite happily at Askham Bog and the gardens near the Minster. ;)

                          1. re: Morganna
                            Harters Jun 13, 2010 08:47 AM

                            "Authentic" is a fraud and waste of time chasing. IMO, of course.

                            Go with taste. As you've had a local recommendation, try that first. You then have an experience to base things on. You'll know whether you liked or not. And please bear in mind Phil and my comments - the vast majority of F&C is simply awful (and even we Brits won't realise this till we've had "good").

                            As for keeping yourselves busy, see where the train will take you. Harrogate and Leeds should be strong candidates for a day out.

                            1. re: Harters
                              Morganna Jun 14, 2010 09:55 AM

                              Yeah, I was pleased at how inexpensive it is to ride the trains off peak. We'll be spending a day at Castle Howard, and I think we'll bring nibbles along with us, rather than eating at the cafe there. I assumed it'd be pretty much like any other museum cafe, overpriced mediocre fare not really worth the cost.

                              If we're looking at a day out we're also thinking about maybe going to Whitby so we can see the ocean. :) AND try out Magpie. :)

                              1. re: Morganna
                                Harters Jun 14, 2010 10:40 AM

                                Actually looking at the Castle Howard website, the cafe looks better than you might expect - for example, locally sourced meat, including beef off the estate itself. Dunno how good they are at cooking it though :-)

                                1. re: Harters
                                  rrems Jun 14, 2010 11:41 AM

                                  I was there about 5 years ago. Unless it's changed since then, it is totally awful. Bland and cooked to death.

                                  1. re: rrems
                                    Morganna Jun 15, 2010 08:32 AM

                                    Which was bland and cooked to death? Magpie or Castle Howard? (I'm guessing you mean Castle Howard)

                                    Nevermind I figured it out from the re: Harters thing. Thanks!

                                    1. re: rrems
                                      Morganna Jun 15, 2010 08:41 AM

                                      Oh my godness! They have a deli and a butchery shop and a grocery with produce and a bake shop! SQUEEEEE!!!!

                                      1. re: Morganna
                                        Harters Jun 15, 2010 09:14 AM

                                        I'd always recommend the Magpie for Whitby. It's one of those experience thingies. Although I seem to recall there's been recent mention of another chippy there. May not have been mentioned on this board (in which case apologies) - but if it was here then it will have been on recentish thread "the best fish & chips" or similar title.

                                  2. re: Morganna
                                    zuriga1 Jun 15, 2010 10:01 AM

                                    I hate to disappoint, but there isn't much of an ocean view in Whitby - not that I remember. If you want a large beach and good views, it's better to the south in Scarborough. But do go to the Magpie. It's a real experience.

                                    1. re: zuriga1
                                      Harters Jun 15, 2010 10:11 AM

                                      Good views but Scarborough's a food desert.

                                      It does have a lovely tourist attraction though (honest - I love this):

                                      1. re: Harters
                                        zuriga1 Jun 15, 2010 01:08 PM

                                        Almost worth a trip north, John. :-)

                                      2. re: zuriga1
                                        Morganna Jun 17, 2010 05:56 AM

                                        There certainly is an ocean view! We were "walking" around Whitby using Google maps and there's a huge cliff overlooking the ocean, it was marvelous. :) Not far from the Magpie, either.

                                        1. re: Morganna
                                          Harters Jun 17, 2010 06:10 AM

                                          IIRC, the cliff is on the other side of the little bay from the Magpie - woth a church on it. It features in the Dracula story (and, yes, you can do a Dracula walking tour of the town, although I don't know whether eating anything bloody features - perhaps wear some garlic to be sure)

                                          1. re: Harters
                                            Morganna Jun 18, 2010 06:11 AM

                                            Mmmm garlic. :)

                    2. Morganna May 25, 2010 08:10 AM

                      Where would you go for just regular grocery shopping, to stock up for a couple days of meals in the flat?

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Morganna
                        Harters May 25, 2010 08:15 AM

                        On the basis that you havnt a car, then whatever supermarket is handy for wherever you're staying. Several now also have smaller shops in town centres which will probably be ideal.

                        1. re: Harters
                          Lake May 31, 2010 09:32 AM

                          Although I stand by my recommendation to get out into the countryside as well as see York itself, I had at least one quite decent meal there and there were a couple of others that I would have tried if I stayed longer. I can't remember the name of these places, but if you hit the tourist office and ask for the freebie local literature, you'll have places to look for. Also, if you walk around most of the old picturesque streets (York isn't huge, so you're bound to get around), you will find places that you like the look of. The restaurantI tried -- and the 2 others are close to it -- are very near the tower on the round hill. My memory is appallingly bad so I can't remember the name of the hill, but it's a local landmark.

                          1. re: Lake
                            Morganna May 31, 2010 10:01 AM

                            We are going to be trying to get out in the country, as well. :)

                          2. re: Harters
                            Lake May 31, 2010 09:37 AM

                            OK, I found some links.

                            This is the restaurant I tried. Reservations are recommended:

                            I wanted to try this restaurant but didn't get around to it:

                            My best meal by far, though, was the one in Helmsley.

                            1. re: Lake
                              Morganna May 31, 2010 10:00 AM

                              Thanks, Lake! I've bookmarked both the restaurants AND that York site! Very handy!

                              1. re: Lake
                                Harters May 31, 2010 10:01 AM

                                We found a "long weekend" deal for the Black Swan at Helmsley two or three years back. Thought the food was decent enough, if a little staid. The Feversham Arms (literally round the corner) had shown up on our radar then - nor had the Star at Harome (which must be the, ahem, star dining experience around the village).

                          3. greedygirl May 8, 2010 03:37 PM

                            You should definitely hire a car - I'm not sure there's enough to occupy you in York for a whole week and the countryside around there is gorgeous.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: greedygirl
                              mr_gimlet May 8, 2010 04:07 PM

                              North Yorkshire has pretty good public transport links if you plan it well, so although a car would be preferable you could get out without one. I would second Whitby or Robin Hoods Bay for a day trip and would also suggest Harrogate. You could also do Leeds, a short train ride away, if you are into industrial museums.

                              Food etc in York? Well, York is famous for its hams and also can do a pretty decent pork pie. I heard, though, the famous butcher near the minster is no more which is where I got all this stuff. Its also a good source for cheeses from the Dales - so Wensleydale (the only Yorkshire dale not named after a river for the trivially inclined) and Swaledale - and there is a very famous afternoon tea place called Bettys (the original is in Harrogate).

                              There is competent pub food in York, and the pubs themselves are very characterful, but they are not food driven,. You need to get further out of York for that.

                              1. re: mr_gimlet
                                Morganna May 9, 2010 06:02 AM

                                No problem grabbing a bus places at all. There's even a handy trip planner for the Yorkshire area that explains the best ways to get from various points to various points. It seems very comprehensive.

                                Though, Greedygirl, I have found loads to do in York while we're there. I don't know how much of it will take a day, and I imagine there's handy food around many things like York Castle, York Minster, the City Walls, National Rail Museum, Jorvik Centre, Newgate Market (I'm surprised no one's mentioned this yet, I just found links for it last night), bike paths, Coppergate, loads of shopping from what I've been told (though nothing like in Manchester, I'm sure).

                                Just the act of living in a flat in a different country, itself, is a bit a of an adventure. :) Still, If there's good sources for things like pork and cheeses in the outlying areas, are there no shops/stalls that bring these things into York proper?

                                1. re: Morganna
                                  Harters May 9, 2010 07:19 AM

                                  You're right - there's no comparision between a small city like York and a large metropolitian centre like Manchester. No-one will have mentioned Newgate Market in a food context as it's just a normal northern town market - lots of stalls selling cheap anoraks and jeans and a few selling selling fruit and veg. There used to be a good butcher next to it, who had very good provenance over its meat (but this may be the one Mr Gimlet mentions has closed)

                                  It's a place you can wander around for a day or so, but then you'll have done the sights. You mention Melton's which is the city' best known known fairly upscale palce - they also have Melton's Too (sic) which is more of a bistro. Bett's Tearooms is almost an institution in Yorkshire - go for afternoon tea - make sure you have a Yorkshire Fat Rascal (a large scone).

                                  Google tells me that there is a farmers market in the city - June one is on the 25th. This site might also be of help to you in tracking down local food:

                                  1. re: Morganna
                                    zuriga1 May 9, 2010 07:21 AM

                                    York was one of the first cities I visited when starting to explore England many years ago. Luckily, I was with a British driver, but it's a lovely city and you'll find lots to do, especially as it's your first trip over here (I'm a tranplanted New Yorker). York is not at all a large city, but it will have several supermarkets, and I find the ones here in England often more comprehensive and better than American ones. You'll be able to buy lots of goodies that will seem a treat to a newcomer.

                                    That said, a week in York is a long time, but I'm glad you'll be getting out to other spots. Most of the places like Castle Howard have fairly nice cafes or little restaurants, and the National Trust ones vary in quality but are always OK for a lunch. Try some of the great British dishes instead of a sandwich! :-)

                                    Enjoy your trip!

                                    1. re: zuriga1
                                      Morganna May 10, 2010 03:59 AM

                                      What sorts of dishes would you consider "great British dishes"? :)

                                      1. re: Morganna
                                        Lake May 13, 2010 04:36 AM

                                        I spent several days in York last year. I took a bus to Helmsley, which is about an hour and a half from York. I had my best meal in the area at the Black Swan hotel in Helmsley. It's a very scenic route through the Yorkshire Dales on the bus to get to Helmsley, and it makes a very nice day trip. You can pick up the bus schedule from the Tourist office at York train station.

                                        1. re: Morganna
                                          Lake May 13, 2010 04:42 AM

                                          I agree with the others that York is easily doable in a couple of days. It's even more interesting to get out into the countryside, using the fabulous buses in the area. Much cheaper than taking sightseeing buses and you can stop wherever takes your fancy.

                                          For instance, on the road to Helmsley, you can see a big chalk white horse on one of the hillsides and you also go by two crumbling monasteries, which are tourist spots (one of these isn't visible from the bus).

                                          1. re: Lake
                                            Morganna May 14, 2010 10:18 AM

                                            You're all being wonderfully helpful and I really appreciate it! I'm getting more and more excited about the trip every day!

                                            1. re: Morganna
                                              Lake May 19, 2010 09:40 AM

                                              Hi Morganna,
                                              Just a heads-up that it's wise to make reservations for most restaurants in the UK, especially popular or high-end restaurants. They get booked up easily. Lead time really varies. Some places can be booked earlier on the same day, while for others may need 24 hours, a few days, or even a few months/year! (for Michelin-starred and similar).


                                              1. re: Lake
                                                Morganna May 21, 2010 11:32 AM

                                                Thanks for the heads up. Hadn't occurred to me that might be an issue! :D Silly 'cos I know it happens here, too. Just happened to me in Chicago, in fact. :)

                                2. PhilD May 8, 2010 03:21 PM

                                  It is a shame you don't have a car as I think some of the better food is outside of York in the countryside i.e. the Star Inn near Helmsley or the Pipe & Glass in South Dalton. Y

                                  ork is a small city so the amount of choice is limited, after a few days there you may benefit from hiring a car and heading off the the Moors of the Dales, fish & chips for lunch in in Whitby followed by an early dinner at the Star on the way home would be good. You can explore Castle Howard (the TV series Brideshead Revisited was filmed there) during the day as it is on the way.

                                  18 Replies
                                  1. re: PhilD
                                    Morganna May 9, 2010 05:58 AM

                                    There's bus service that goes to Castle Howard. I'm planning a day trip there. Anyone had the food they have there? Is it any good?

                                    I've been poking around and I think I've got a pretty full set of things to be doing while we're there.

                                    I can't stand driving in places I don't know in the US. Being in the UK, where the roads are narrower and you drive on the other side of the road for my first trip across the ocean would very likely be far too stressful to make up for any convenience it lends. I know myself and how it'll make me feel.

                                    We have no problem taking the bus, and even walking a bit (perhaps up to a mile or so) from a bus stop to get someplace great. I realize this limits us in many ways, but I know what's going to work best for us to have a leisurely time and not add any stress.

                                    1. re: Morganna
                                      rrems May 9, 2010 07:30 PM

                                      I've had the food in the cafeteria at Castle Howard, only because it was quick and convenient on a Sunday after touring the house. Well, the best I can say about it was it was edible. I've been researching pubs for a planned trip to Yorkshire next year and have found a number of good ones not terribly far from Castle Howard. Take a look at the web site, it is quite comprehensive and you can specify award winning for food in your search. Getting to them by bus is of course another question.

                                      As for restaurants in York, I have been to the Ivy, which has gone more casual since, but the menu still looks spectacular. We are planning on one dinner there and another at Melton's, which we did not get to the last time but definitely looks good. I've been to Betty's Tea Rooms in Harrogate, and it was excellent, so I assume the one in York is also worth a visit.

                                      1. re: rrems
                                        zuriga1 May 10, 2010 03:27 AM

                                        I hope you can get to the Magpie Cafe in Whitby. Their seafood is really wonderful. If you need a B&B there (not a plug), we found a great spot on our last trip. Just email me.. address by clicking my name.

                                        1. re: zuriga1
                                          rrems May 10, 2010 03:55 PM

                                          Thanks, June. I was thinking about a day trip to Whitby (we will probably be staying just west of York) and the Magpie looks like a must-try.

                                          1. re: rrems
                                            zuriga1 May 11, 2010 04:32 AM

                                            I was surprised how huge the Magpie's menu was having only heard about the famous fish and chips. I hope you can get there.

                                            1. re: rrems
                                              Morganna May 11, 2010 05:13 AM

                                              What is "Woof and Chips"? Ok, I know what chips are. What's the woof? Suppose I could google it. :)

                                              1. re: Morganna
                                                greedygirl May 11, 2010 07:40 AM

                                                It's a kind of fish, I think.

                                                1. re: greedygirl
                                                  Morganna May 11, 2010 08:03 AM

                                                  Looks like maybe a catfish, from the googling I've done. Thanks!

                                                  1. re: Morganna
                                                    Naguere Apr 8, 2011 07:39 AM

                                                    It is a pseudonym for shark (I think)

                                          2. re: rrems
                                            rrems May 10, 2010 04:04 PM

                                            Sorry Morganna, I left a few words out of my post which are important to note. It should have read:

                                            Take a look at the GOOD PUB GUIDE web site, it is quite comprehensive and you can specify award winning for food in your search.

                                            I have had great success with this guide, though I also look at the menu of each place that interests me before I decide which to try.

                                            1. re: rrems
                                              Morganna May 11, 2010 05:09 AM

                                              Thanks. I'm bookmarking websites madly. :) I'm very excited about Betty's Tea Room because it looks like exactly the sort of thing we just don't have in the US at all. ;)

                                              1. re: Morganna
                                                Morganna May 11, 2010 07:10 AM

                                                Ok, just to be precise so I don't get chided. There's probably a nice British tea room in one or more of the large cities in the US, but I don't know where, and I don't know how good they are. There are no such places that I know of in Vermont (though there are some places that serve tea the way we serve coffee, in a sort of cafe/bistro type of setting, rather than something that feels more "tea roomish" if that makes ANY sense at all). :)

                                                1. re: Morganna
                                                  zuriga1 May 11, 2010 09:32 AM

                                                  From what I remember, the waitresses in Betty's wear black dresses and look very authentic. I remember really enjoying that place on one of my first trips to the north of England... still a tourist then.

                                                  1. re: zuriga1
                                                    mr_gimlet May 11, 2010 02:57 PM

                                                    Yes, you feel as if you have wandered into an Agatha Christie adaptation. Its pure theatre.

                                                    1. re: mr_gimlet
                                                      zuriga1 May 11, 2010 10:49 PM

                                                      There should be a place like this in London, if nowhere else. With a great tea, it would be a hit with tourists.

                                                      1. re: zuriga1
                                                        PhilD May 12, 2010 02:13 PM

                                                        There used to be similar ones in London called Lyons Corner Houses (before my time but my parents used to go to them) which were similar to Betty's, unfortunately they closed down so Betty's in York or Harrogate are some of the few links to a bygone era. They were in great places, the Trocadero in Piccadilly was originally one of them.

                                                        Betty's is expanding, but as yet have not ventured out of gods own county, you never know, it may reach London.

                                                        1. re: PhilD
                                                          zuriga1 May 12, 2010 02:25 PM

                                                          If I was younger, I'd open one in Surrey. I'm fairly sure that the ancient chain in NYC called Scraffts, also had waitresses in uniforms. It seems to add something, but I'm not sure quite what. :-)

                                                          1. re: PhilD
                                                            mr_gimlet May 12, 2010 02:40 PM

                                                            Yes, I suspect they won't leave Yorkshire - and they'll say it's the water for the tea. There is a well-known sketch from Hale and Pace about Yorkshire Airlines - "Ladies and gentlemen, we have now taken off from Leeds and Bradford International Airport. We'll shortly be landing at Leeds and Bradford International Airport because there's nowt worth seeing outside Yorkshire."

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