Tag Archives: York

Pasta Heaven @ Le Langhe, York

A good catch up with old friends in York, always means a decent lunch somewhere, as they love food as much as I do. We were off to Le Langhe, a restaurant that I’d read about before, but this was my first visit. From the outside it was hard to tell there was a restaurant, as there’s no real signage. Even on closer inspection looking in through the window, you see a deli stocked with all sorts of goodies, no hint of a dining room.

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On entering we found ourselves surrounded by a food lovers dream; an Italian food and wine emporium with walls of shelves holding quality Italian wines, cabinets fully stocked with delicious meats and cheeses, Italian breads, imported pastas, aged balsamic vinegars, fresh truffles and much much more!

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Once we could tear ourselves away from the shop, the actual dining room was at the back and up a few steps, this is where I saw the restaurants name – Le Langhe. The sign was a little hard to make out at first as they had so much stock everywhere, maybe as christmas looms ever close, there were boxes seemingly everywhere!

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We found the menu a tad on the confusing side and more complicated than was necessary. The menu is divided into dishes ‘from the counter’ and ‘from the counter’, but within these categories there’s a four-course tasting menu which includes a glass of wine at £23 each, but a couple of potential deal breakers came with it; the menu is the chefs choice and the whole table must be included.  Pasta and meat dishes (on a separate menu) can be ordered individually or in combination with starters which are on the back of the main menu. Also a selection of meats and cheeses which could be ordered on their own or as a selection. If this sounds confusing, it’s because it was!

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After we’d worked out the menu, partly from listening to one of the staff explaining it to the couple at the next table, we opted for some starters and pasta dishes, which on the menu was called ‘discover the difference’ & pasta (£12.95).

For our starters we picked some prosciutto di parma, prosciutto san daniele and Calabrian nduja with some bread. The prosciutto arrived sliced as thinly as you like and was great on taste, as you would expect. The nduja was a bag hit with it’s spicy meatiness, kept soft with the ingenious use of a tea light holder. The three of us certainly had our appetites whetted sufficiently before our next course. 

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Prosciutto san danielle
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Prosciutto di parma
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Nduja

Two game ragu pasta and one pumpkin and goat cheese pasta came our way, here they say their pasta is freshly made daily and cooked to order, with sauce that isn’t added for the sake of it so pasta swims around in it, but used to enhance it. The last bowl of pasta I really enjoyed was the braised beef pappardelle at Zucco a few months ago, OH. MY. GOD this topped it! Even before the first mouthful, just picking some up on the fork, you could see the pasta was mega thin, cut in pappardelle width strips. It was silky, lightly covered in a flavourful game ragu and a grating of parmesan providing additional seasoning. We enjoyed the pasta so much that we unashamedly banged on about it for the rest of our lunch. 

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Pumpkin and goat cheese pasta
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Game ragu pasta

Our praise continued to the point where we ordered a second portion of game pasta to share!! I don’t regret it one iota, it was totally worth it.

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Second helpings!

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I’d never eaten at Le Langhe before, and this won’t be last time, as even though everything about our lunch wasn’t perfect, the food wasn’t far off from being! If you’re in York I’d recommend you head there yourself.

Lunch with wine (and an extra pasta) for three people cost £65 without tip.

Food: excellent, some of the best pasta I’ve eaten, ever.

Service: a little haphazard at times, but friendly, helpful and efficient on the whole. 

Atmosphere: we arrived at lunch, so there was a steady stream of diners throughout our stay. Quiet, gentle chatter about the place. 

Le Langhe
The Old Coach House
Peasholme Green
York
YO1 7PW
http://www.lelanghe.co.uk

Le Langhe on Urbanspoon

Perky Peacock, York – The North’s Coffee Community, pt VIII

For my second coffee hit in York I paid a visit to the Perky Peacock, located at Lendal bridge on the River Ouse. York is full of historic buildings, but this place has a historically interesting and quirky spot, hidden in an old toll booth (Postern Tower) overlooking the river. Opened by Nicola Peacock, an award winning barista four and a half years ago. It’s great spot, next to the river where rowers and York river boats frequently pass by, close to the main tourist trap of Medieval York and the train station.

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Originally from Thirsk, Nicola got her Philosophy degree at York University, travelled around the USA and then got bored doing mundane office work. It wasn’t until the age of 21 did Nicola actually have her first taste of coffee, and for a period before Perky Peacock was born ran a mobile coffee shop with an espresso machine in a smart car! One of the unusual things she found was she couldn’t trade within the city walls, so Nicola would park up on the edge of the walls luring in coffee lovers, who quickly became regulars! 

Nicola soon realised how much interest she had in coffee as a product, she loved the customer interaction and producing something great from a humble source is at the heart of what she does.

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During this time she noticed the Postern Tower on her coffee route, it’s part of York’s famous city walls and was originally built as a toll tower to help restrict ships access to the town centre. As she was eager to discover who owned it, she posted letters through the letter box constantly to find out who was in possession of the place. Eventually finding out that York Boat who run the cruises along the river did, it worked out perfectly as Nicola has the space above, while the boating company still has the mooring. 

Once inside the tower it has a quirky, oldie worldy feel and bags of character, I loved the wooden beams, the mix of furniture and decor make it really cosy and homely. With there being just four tables I’d say it’s small, but perfectly formed, making the most of the unusual space well. A great view is to be had if you can nab a table overlooking the river too.

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As you’d expect from a barista who’s competed at the UK Barista Championships the coffee is pretty darn good, their seasonal espresso is from Cornwall based Origin coffee roasters. Only using coffee from roasters which deal in Direct Trade is of major importance to Nicola, it means that the best beans are 100% traceable and sustainable, grown by farmers they have built strong relationships with, ensuring they get a fair price for their crop and that the environment is well maintained. For guest coffees they have James’ Gourmet Coffee, who are based in Ross-on-Wye.

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At the time I visited they were using Hunda Oli, an Ethopian espresso with delicate flavours of peach, apricot, lemon and jasmine. I had this in a lovely flat white made on their San Remo Verona machine, by barista Gabby Collet, who’d recently come 6th in the Latte Art category (the highest placed female) at the UK Barista Championships!

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All the cakes are baked by Nicola’s mam, who has a tonne of baking experience, having baked for Harvey Nichols in the past. Coming from a farm she understands the importance of local produce, so stays close to home wherever possible, such as using local butchers on the Shambles. 

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Whether you’re a local, a city worker, or doing the touristy thing and walking the city walls, like you do; you’ll probably find yourself at Lendal Bridge where you’ll see a medieval stone tower with a slate roof – why don’t you pop inside, you’ll get treated well with excellent coffee and banter, a spot of food and a great view from a beautiful, historic part of York. 

The Perky Peacock
The Postern Tower
Lendal Bridge
York
YO1 6HU
 01904 613511
http://perkypeacockcoffee.co.uk

Spring Espresso, York – The North’s Coffee Community, pt VI

When I first started this series on The North’s Coffee Community I focussed on Leeds and Harrogate, but since speaking to different people involved in coffee it’s got me looking further afield, such as York.

I love York with all its history, iconic architecture and cobbled streets – this is one of the UK’s great cities in my opinion. Having old friends living near the racecourse I’ve visited the place many times over the years. But with my love for coffee developing only recently, I really had no idea of their fantastic independent artisan coffee shops, and I don’t mean Betty’s!

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For my first Coffee Community post in York, I’m starting with Spring Espresso, after a gratefully received recommendation from Ruth at Bean & Bud in Harrogate.

Spring Espresso first opened in Autumn 2011, on Fossgate. The owners, Steve and Tracey previously worked for the Cafe2U franchise, selling coffee around the area from a red van before opening their own place.

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As with many of these coffee community stories, I’ve found that there are people who are seemingly woven into the fabric of these stories. Tracey and Dave Olejnik (Laynes Espresso) have been friends for years, both possessing a love and obsession of coffee in the days before Laynes, when Dave worked at Opposite in Leeds. As Dave opened Laynes in Leeds city centre, Tracey and Steve saw a gap in the market in historic York, where Third Wave coffee hadn’t really found its way into this part of Yorkshire.

With their spot on Fossgate, they’ve built a space with an open feel and calm ambience. This was fully intended with Tracey wanting a relaxing environment where every customer could be seen in one glance. They’ve even implemented the principles of feng shui into the layout of the shop to guide energy flow through the shop!

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One of the first things you can’t help but notice is the stand-out branding on the walls. Steve once served in the Air Force so I assume that’s the link to Spring’s logo, very cool it is too!!

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Another thing I admired was their attention to detail, with customer service being one thing they pride themselves on, greeting customers across a low-level counter means their much-loved Synesso Hydra machine is on show, baristas can’t hide behind brewing apparatus or paraphernalia, and it encourages interaction and builds a dynamic between barista and the customer.

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After recently watching a BBC programme on the coffee scene in the UK, they mentioned a certain coffee chain, which I won’t name who style themselves on the old school traditional Italian coffee shop. I’m SO glad Spring Espresso haven’t gone down that road, and instead have a lovely space with great pieces of furniture made from wood lovingly salvaged from old Yorkshire mills. A prime example is the gorgeous low level circular table at the front of the shop, made from a 17C pulley wheel previously used in a Sheffield mill.

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So what about the coffee, they champion London’s Square Mile Red Brick and often host guest coffees, from artisan roasters like Caravan. Using coffee from Direct Trade is very important to Tracey and Steve, where coffee is bought straight from the growers. Relationships based on respect are built and is mutually beneficial to all parties, where growers are helped to grow the best coffee, often in very difficult environments and circumstances.

After spending the morning with Tracey and Steve, chatting whilst I drank a fantastic latte made with Square Mile’s Red Brick seasonal espresso, the love and passion they have for what they do, the extensive knowledge and experience they have at their fingertips was highly enviable and infectious!!! I think I was a little in awe when I found out that Steve’s competed in the UK Barista Championships many times, having achieved 3rd place in 2012. So this team REALLY do know their stuff and blew me away with it!

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They know their tea as well, 2013 saw them winning BSA 2013 Accreditation and Best Drink award for Best Tea!!! These guys are certainly not one trick ponies, using 10 speciality teas from the Canton Tea Co.

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I visited on a quiet Sunday morning (9:30am) and when I arrived a lot of their regulars were already in there, a couple of hours later the place was full – I have a feeling this a very common occurrence!!

The baked goods are all made by Tracey’s fair hands and I did spot her version of the Bostock slice. I was so tempted to go home with one, next time I’ll definitely snaffle one up!!

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Tracey and Steve are in the process of opening a second shop in the city centre, with the same great coffee and service, but with extra square footage they’ll be able to serve more of the York masses and tourists from far and wide! You are lucky, lucky people!

York for me isn’t just a city I’ll visit for it’s history and architecture anymore, it’s somewhere I can drink wonderful artisan coffee from some lovely people, who really know what they are doing. Oh yeah, it’s an independent too!!

Spring Espresso
45 Fossgate
York
YO1 9TF
07779 294149
http://www.springespresso.co.uk

The Hop Pizzeria, York – guest post by Lucy Reynolds

Amidst the quaint lanes of historic York, a little slice of Italy is being rustled up and attracting crowds from far and wide. Nestled on the Fossgate, part of the growing chain of The Hop pubs from the award-winning Ossett Brewery, their newest pub in York follows the trend of stylish and innovative décor which blends beautifully with a traditional feel and top quality real ales.

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But the real jewel in the crown is the small pizza kitchen, situated at the back of the building. Working with an authentic wood fired pizza oven, which climbs to around 360 degrees and cooks the pizzas to perfection in around 4 minutes, the dedicated chefs buzz around the kitchen and produce, on average 120 pizzas per day, rising to over 200 on a weekend.

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After a long, hard week at work, Miss Tale of Two Sittings and I ventured into the bustling pub in search of a tasty slice and it exceeded our expectations on every account.

The kitchen offers a small but varied menu of 8 pizzas, along with a monthly special (at the moment it’s a spicy Jamaican Jerk chicken with a fruity salsa topping).

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Head Chef Johan showed us around the kitchen (we did a great job of quickly getting in the way) and told us about the process he undergoes when making the dough. It seems like authenticity and quality are the order of the day here, as unlike most outlets who make and cook the pizza dough on the same day, the kitchen at the Hop prides itself on using Italian methods, using a three day retarded dough which provides a perfect elasticity in order to produce the almost paper thin base. Watching him shape and throw the dough around was like watching aerial gymnastics, and we couldn’t actually believe how thin the base became – you could probably read a paper through it, but we were too ravenous to put this theory to the test. 

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Now I am well known as being a pizza-hater, so this was a real experiment in whether I could change my culinary tastes and enjoy a dish I’d normally avoid on a menu. Normally I think that pizza is stodgy, cloying and altogether rather uninspiring, but I have to admit, this wasn’t any ordinary pizza. Choosing the Valentina and the Bosco, we sat at our table and in the blink of an eye were served two large plates of bubbling hot pizza. Having already peeked at the ingredients, either sourced locally or imported from Italy, it was the fresh taste that really made the difference and set this pizza apart from any I’d begrudgingly tried before.

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The Valentina boasted a generous topping of goats cheese, caramelised onions, black olives, red bell peppers, rocket and a drizzling of balsamic vinegar. The mild, creamy goat cheese worked brilliantly with the sweet onions and the piquant peppers. The rocket is added at the end, after cooking, giving it a fresh, peppery kick and the thing, bubbled up thin base is crispy, nutty and possibly the reason why these pizzas are selling out every day.

The Bosco was a carnivore’s dream, with large chunks of Italian sausage, marinated in red wine, rosemary and thyme added on with red onion, mozzarella, porcini mushrooms and fresh cherry tomatoes, with a handful of rocket after it comes out of the oven.

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This was just as flavoursome as the Valentina, with the herbs and meat making each mouthful filling and moreish, The seasoning was perfect and the topping was so generous that you definitely felt full and satisfied, even though we still kept on picking at the rogue pieces of topping that had slid off the slices after we had greedily devoured them. This once seasoned Pizza hater had been coverted – in fact, I’m hooked. 

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If it’s tasty, Italian style pizza you’re looking for, impressive listed building surroundings and award winning ale, then look no further than The Hop in York. 

I think it’s safe to say The Hop is recommended!

Disclaimer: we were invited to try the pizzas at The Hop, so our food was complimentary. The views expressed are as always 100% honest and unbiased.

The Hop
11-12 Fossgate  
York, 
North Yorkshire 
YO1 9TA01904 541466
http://thehopyork.co.uk

 

La Vecchia Scuola, York

I visited some old friends who live in York on Saturday,  and for lunch they suggested trying out La Vecchia Scuola, on Low Petergate in the city centre. They are like minded people who also enjoy eating out, so when they suggest a restaurant who am I to say otherwise. 

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When they mentioned it I’d remembered I’d eaten there once before, a couple of years ago. But it wasn’t going to be how I’d remembered it in the past, as they said it was under new ownership, after the previous one had been banned from the food industry for breaching health and safety regulations! As you might think the new owner Decio Franca obviously had a lot of rebuilding to do to get the reputation of the place back to what it once was.

La Vecchia Scuola is a lovely Grade II listed building which dates back 300 years, and was once York College for Girls from 1908 to 1997, on entering the restaurant the memorabilia adorning the walls showed old black and white photos of school days gone by.

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It has an enviable location, with a view of York Minster from the conservatory and with the entrance on one of York city centre’s busiest shopping streets, it would be difficult for it not to get a lot of foot fall. 

Their a la carte menu consists of lots of classic dishes such as Lasagne al forno, Spinach and ricotta cannelloni and Margherita pizza, as well more modern dishes for example Ravioli di Aragosta (lobster ravioli). The menu was quite large so it took a few minutes for us to decide, they also had  a set lunch menu with 2 courses £9.95 or 3 courses for £12.95. Very good in terms of price, but we felt that it had more of the classic dishes on it and we weren’t particularly tempted.

Gamberoni Arrabiata
Gamberoni Arrabiata

My friend’s Gamberoni looked really good, exactly the sort of dish I would usually order. From the first mouthful it was obvious how good it was, the King prawns were cooked accurately and were very juicy. The sauce had a lovely balance of garlic, tomato and chilli.

Garlic pizza bread
Garlic pizza bread

I shared a pizza bread with a friend which was tasted great. It was maybe a little anaemic on appearance, but for taste it hit all the right notes, with a  good Pomodoro sauce it had a decent amount of garlic without it being overpowering. 

For our main courses we chose the Lobster ravioli and sea bass. The sea bass was a generous portion, and had lots of lovely colours, two large sea bass fillets, and plenty of salty capers. New potatoes, sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes accompanied the dish and making it quite a hearty portion.

Branzino alla Toscana
Branzino alla Toscana

On all accounts my friend enjoyed it immensely. The dish was well cooked and had great flavours. On a personal note I think the dish would have been better if the fish had nice, crispy skin. It was presented skin side down, a shame really as the fish would have looked great with crispy skin on show! 

We both were relishing the thought of our Lobster ravioli, luckily we weren’t disappointed. The ravioli was plump and had plenty of tomato and basil sauce. Lots of juicy King prawns were also accompanying the ravioli which was a lovely surprise. I certainly wasn’t complaining about that! The ravioli had been made well, the pasta was lovely and thin and each were generously filled with lobster. The sauce was rich and full of flavour, each ravioli was enveloped in the sauce.  With perfectly cooked prawns it was a fantastic dish and not too rich. 

Ravioli di Aragosta
Ravioli di Aragosta

I’d recommend going there, it was a lovely place to have lunch, it’s bang in the middle of York city centre and in a lovely setting.

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Our lunch including a bottle of wine cost £88 for 3 people.

Food: Decent portions, well cooked and very tasty. 

Service: Staff were attentive, efficient and welcoming.

Atmosphere: The restaurant seemed to have a good turn over of diners so the atmosphere was good, not too noisy and was also relaxed. 

La Vecchia Scuola
62 Low Petergate
York
YO1 7HZ
Tel: 01904644600