Visitors to York can choose from a wide variety of food and drink. There is Indian, Chinese and Italian; cocktails and craft gin. But, as befits a city with 2000 years of history, you will also find plenty of typically English cuisine. Here are my Top 5 English Bites in York.
The English have been eating pies since the middle ages, scrumptious circles of pastry with fillings of meat, apple or mincemeat. One of the most traditional is the pork pie, filled with a succulent mixture of pork and jelly.
A great place to try pork pie is at the intriguingly named House of the Trembling Madness, housed in a 12th century building on Stonegate with a “beware of the ghosts” sign on the stairs. Here the pie is topped with a choice of black pudding, Stilton cheese or chili, and it is teamed with another English classic – a spoonful of fruity pickle.
House of the Trembling Madness
48 Stonegate, York YO1 8AS
+44 1904 640009
There are more than 700 English cheeses, and new varieties are being created all the time. You can find different cheeses in just about any café or restaurant in York, or buy them to take home from a specialist cheese shop or delicatessen.
Or you could go for a tasting at the Cheese and Wine Emporium, housed in another historic building in Stonegate. Here you can try a range of delicious cheeses, both traditional and modern, from Cheshire, on the other side of the country. You’ll also get a glass of wine to go with the cheese, although – unfortunately – the wine isn’t English. (Hopefully this may change in the future, as English wines become better known.)
Cheese and Wine Emporium
6 Stonegate, York YO1 8AS
+44 1904 653240
Yorkshire rarebit (pronounced “rabbit”) is a staple of peasant food. Known elsewhere in Britain as Welsh rarebit, it consists of a thick sauce of cheese and other ingredients (often including ale) on top of bread or toast. Bacon is often added to the Yorkshire version.
The best place to try Yorkshire Rarebit is at Betty’s Café Tea Rooms on St Helen’s Square. With its opulent Art Deco style premises, Betty’s has been a York institution since it opened in 1936. Don’t be put off by the fact that you have to queue to get in: it is all part of the experience!
Betty’s Café Tea Rooms
6-8 St. Helen’s Square, York YO1 8QP
+44 1904 659142
You can’t get much more English than a cup of tea. Preferably with a slice of cake, or a buttered scone. Walk around York and you’ll see dozens of cafés and tearooms, offering anything from tea and biscuits to a full English tea with sandwiches and cakes.
I went to the Little Shambles Tea Room, in a tiny medieval house just off the famous Shambles, the street where butchers plied their trade in the middle ages. My scone came with jam and fresh cream and, of course, a steaming hot pot of tea.
Little Shambles Tea Room
1 Little Shambles, York YO1 7LY.
+44 1904 627871
People have been brewing beer in Britain since pre-Roman times. It was one of the commonest drinks in the middle ages, when everyone (regardless of age or status) drank it every day. Today there are hundreds of brands, including many local and craft beers.
Back on Stonegate, I went to the Yorkshire Terrier, one of five pubs owned by the locally operated York Brewery. Here I had a glass of Centurion’s Ghost, a smooth malty ale that pays homage to York’s Roman past.
As a bonus, when you have finished your five bites in York, you could go to the York Brewery’s premises by the city walls on Toft Green and watch the beer being made.
10 Stonegate, York, YO1 8AS
+44 1904 676711