Several months ago, after wanting to for years, we finally got to visit Yorkshire in the North of England and boy, was it worth the wait! It was just everything I’d hoped it would be and more.
My only ‘regret’ (I use that word very VERY loosely – Yorkshire was just so amazing) was that we never really got to explore the city of York.
All we saw was the drive after picking up the car and the drive back to drop off the car (both of which looked absolutely gorgeous in a quintessentially English way) so, at some point, I just knew we had to come back and explore this beautiful city properly!
And so we did! On our latest Microgap in England, I figured it was time we got to grips with some of our island’s absolutely fascinating history!
And where better to than the city, with a history that spans back thousands of years, a city once occupied by Romans and Vikings and one that still held on to its ancient history rather visibly everywhere you went!
With that, we hopped on the train from Kings Cross station in London and 2 hours later, we were in York – eager to kick start our English Microgap!
The walk from the station to the hotel (it was just such a lovely day – too sunny to hop into a taxi for what would have been a 10 minute walk) left me super eager to chuck my luggage aside, whip out my camera (actually, perhaps get the camera first before chucking the luggage) and just run off exploring!
The hotel – The Gray’s Court hotel – is pretty amazing!
It’s steeped in so much fascinating history, and, in their own words is a building that “has seen knighthoods bestowed, played host to kings and has the privilege of being the only privately owned building in York with direct access to York’s City walls.”
Pretty special, right?
Let me show you around! Starting with the room…
… then the bar and general communal/chill out area
… before showing you what is easily my favourite spot in the hotel – the library!
I’ve always had a thing for libraries.
I love the smell of the books, getting lost in said books and the game of finding the cosiest nook to hunker down in a get lost in a world of imagination (I’m of a fiction kinda guy).
Distracted by the hotel, time for lunch arrived surprisingly sooner than I’d expected and, prompted by a rumble in my tummy, we headed over to Cafe no. 8 Bistro, a cute little spot in town.
We wasted no time in getting stuck into things – Lloyd went for the beef sandwich while I went for the Kedgeree.
I’m not usually a sandwich kinda person (shock horror but bread-based meals – despite my obvious love of carbs, never really do it for me) which is why I didn’t even consider the beef sandwich to begin with. When it arrived, it came with a side order of (rather generous) food envy!
This is not a beef sandwich like I’d imagined.
The delicious smell wafting from the beef sandwich did nothing to alleviate my food envy!
I was totally convinced I’d made the wrong choice until I tucked into my Kedgeree!
The delicious mix of herbs, fish and veggies all delightfully blended into this rice dish (topped up with a poached egg) was just so amazing (it totally took me by surprise, I have to admit) and, despite never having heard of it before, made me super glad I decided to take a chance on something different for lunch this time.
The whole meal was just so amazing and the rave reviews we’d read prior to arriving at the cafe just made so much sense once we tucked in! (I tasted Lloyd’s – for research, of course, 😉 and it was as amazing as it looked and smelt).
With our tastebuds still buzzing in excitement from the main meal, we just knew we’d have to get dessert here!
I went for the posset while Lloyd went for scones – both of which were as delicious as the mains before them!
Stuffed and absolutely delighted with lunch, we spilled out onto the sunny streets of York, eager to finally go exploring the city in all its historic glory!
York is an absolutely beautiful city, that goes without saying methinks, but in the sunshine, it’s somehow even more special!
There’s so much to see here – inside and outside but with the sunshine due to disappear the next day, we figured we might as well just make the most of it and stay outdoors.
We started off with the cathedral – a stunning Gothic beauty – indeed, the largest of its kind in Northern Europe!
Fascinated by its rather resplendent beauty, I figured we might as well take it in from every angle possible! 😄😆 (Sidebar – the room at Gray’s Court actually had a view of the Cathedral as well).
Leaving the cathedral, we slowly ambled towards the River…
…before a quick jaunt across the city walls!
The next hours or so was just spent soaking up the beauty of York in the sunshine before deciding to stop for a spot of tea at Guy Fawkes inn!
Now, the Guy Fawkes Inn is a rather impressive part of history as this is where Guy Fawkes was actually born! He was baptised in the church right opposite – many many years before he decided to blow up (and was stopped from blowing up) the Houses of Parliament!
Done with tea, and with the sun setting slower than usual (though not surprising given the ‘summer day’, we’d been having right in the middle of winter), we headed off to check out a very special part of York – The Shambles.
Although collectively, York’s tiny, quaint, twisting streets can be referred to as The Shambles, there is actually a particular street in York called The Shambles and it’s easily one of the best preserved Medieval streets in the world – not to mention, one of the most beautiful!
The street is lined with timber-framed houses that make you feel like you’ve walked into Ye Olde England!
It’s such a charming part of York and definitely one of the most popular spots to visit – not least of all for its collection of (mostly) independent shops.
We spent far too long here, admiring the place – taking in the smells of freshly made fudge which (despite my initial resolve, I knew I’d be getting on that train back to London with bags full of the stuff), cute tea shops and even a “Shop which must not be named”.
Speaking of said shop, Harry Potter fans might find that this street feels a little familiar and that’s because this is where Diagon Alley was actually modelled after. Suffice to say, Harry Potter fans will have quite the field day visiting The Shambles.
As the sun set, The Shambles slowly started to light up with twinkling lights, making it somehow even more magical and picturesque that it was before.
It also reminded us that it was high time we headed over to the restaurant we’d reserved for dinner before even arriving in York… and with good reason too – more on that in a bit.
We bade The Shambles farewell and made our way over to Roots for dinner, swinging by the cathedral again which although now devoid of most of its visitors and passing admirers, looks absolutely amazing in its dusky glow.
See, the chef behind Roots (Tommy Banks) was (and I think, still is) the youngest ever chef to have received a Michelin star! Again, if you’re planning on visiting York – this is one spot you HAVE to make time to eat in!
I’ll just start off by telling you from the get-go the meal was absolutely amazing! Like every single bit of it and every single bite!
Even the cocktails were just amazing!!!
Even stuff that perhaps I wouldn’t normally order on a menu (Kale 😄) arrived so absolutely delicious and actually leaving me considering perhaps looking at ways to replicate this in some way at home!
It was just the perfect meal to finish off a sunny day in York!
We went for the Chef’s tasting menu, which changes depending on seasons. As it’s winter time and crops tend not to grow in water, this was aptly titled “The Hunger Gap” feast menu (which is a bit of an Oxymoron – hunger… feast… 😀 ).
Kale Dressed in Sheep’s Yoghurt, Pickled Walnuts and Cured Egg Yolk. I call this one the Kale surprise as it’s actually THE MOST I’ve ever enjoyed kale.
Seabass with rhubarb and beans. Actually tasted this before this kale and immediately knew we were in for a treat this entire meal!
Venison Tartare, Oldstead Pepper, Fermented Mushroom, Buckwheat! Disappeared in micro-seconds… *licks lips*
Crapaudine Beetroot cooked slowly in Beef Fat.
Sour Crown Prince Falafel, Sprouts and Chestnuts
Halibut, Broccoli and a Smoked Bacon and Mussel Sauce
Salt Beef, Mustard, Gherkins and Old Winchester
Glazed Savoy Cabbage, Fennel Pollen, Crispy Onions
Carrot and Chicory Root Tiramisu – such a surprise and a delight!
It’s tiramisu made in a totally different way using absolutely different ingredients from what you’d expect yet somehow still absolutely as delicious as the original recipe that inspired it.
Meadowsweet Toast, Rhubarb and Honey
Again, I’m just gonna repeat this (just in case you missed this 😄), you HAVE to eat here when you’re in York! 😀 It’s just such delicious food!!!
And with that, we called it an evening – eager to get in good night’s sleep and explore even more of beautiful York the very next day! 😀
Article credit to: https://handluggageonly.co.uk/2019/03/04/exploring-the-beautiful-ancient-city-of-york-england/