FOOD & DRINK
Owned and run by Anna Witcxzak, Barbakan began life on Walmgate as a Polish delicatessen and bakery, filled with supermarket-style treats from home, including traditional poppy seed cake and beetroot soup. After a growing intrigue from York tourists, Anna soon had to adapt the supermarket area of the shop to fit more tables, and the Barbakan now successfully runs as a cosy daytime café and evening restaurant. The menu boats a whole array of authentic polish classics such as Pierogi and Bigos, and the dessert options certainly do not disappoint either; after a quick glance at the cake counter, you won’t struggle to find room for a slice of hazelnut and blueberry cake, or the all-time favourite poppy seed cake.
The brainchild of Russ and Rebecca, Kiosk: Project Space is a successful combination of café and gallery which aims to support other independents and local artists alongside their own. The gallery runs seamlessly within the café, and decorates the space with ceramics, prints, wall hangings, jewellery, and a whole host of other products made by local artists and craft makers; and the cups and plates used to serve the café coffee and food are also made by a local artist. Food is prepared at the back of the premises in a tiny kitchen where they serve up an impressive array of options including an all-day breakfast and lunch options from a seasonal menu.
Corner Grill House
As the name might suggest, the Corner Grill House sits on the corner of Walmgate and Merchantgate just before the bridge to Fossgate. After a bought of serious flooding in 2015, owner Radek Bak took a year out to restore his restaurant; after replacing a lot of his furniture and equipment, Radek gave what was formerly ‘The Sitting Pig’ a complete rebrand, and so it became Corner Grill House. Complete with a new menu, Corner Grill House has gone from strength to strength serving up a range of menu staples such as burgers and pasta dishes alongside their a la carte options such as tenderloin pork and rack of lamb.
The [N]Ice Cream Factory
One of Fossgate’s most recent newcomers, the [N]ice Cream Factory joined the street in 2018; Opened by sister-in-law team Heather and Kirsten Duncanson, the [N]ice Cream Factory is a traditional ice cream parlour with a twist. Instead of ready-to-go tubs of ice cream sat waiting in a counter, here, ice creams are in fact made to order using liquid nitrogen which rapidly freezes the ice cream ingredients. Taking inspiration from Michelin-starred ice creams, the pair began using this rapid freezing method so as large ice crystals would not form and to create a silky-smooth ice cream with punchier flavours such as chocolate and peanut butter, espresso, and a whole host of others. Alongside their innovative ice cream, the [N]ice Cream Factory also sells locally sourced coffee and speciality teas.
The Cake Shop
Joining Fossgate’s food and drink scene in 2016, The Cake Shop proves to be a firm favourite for many York punters with an appetite for a traditional English tea shop… or cake shop. Run by Annette Harker with the help of her son, the café has been beautifully decked out with charming 1930’s décor, complete with white table cloths, gold damask wallpaper and wall-to-wall prints. The Cake Shop sells a range of loose leaf teas, and coffee as well as an all-encompassing display of vibrant cakes to leave you feeling spoilt for choice.
SHOPPING & LIFESTYLE
Formerly named ‘Jack Duncan Books’, this bookshop has a reputable name in York for being run by Jack Duncan, the man who left a successful job in television to fulfil his dream of owning his own bookshop. Jack had a career made up of a variety of different ventures, including helping to fund the Private Eye, and playing cricket for his county. But it was becoming an independent book seller that Jack’s heart desired. With an almost self-taught knowledge of books, Jack began forming his extensive collection based on his own favourites which were antiquarian. Jack passed away in 2016, but his legacy lives on in his bookshop which is now run by Alex Helstrip as Fossgate Books.
The Hairy Fig
One of Fossgate’s old timers, the Hairy Fig has lived on this cobbled street for over 11 years and sits beside the gateway to the Merchant’s Adventure Hall. This successful combination of deli-grocers and café was established in 2008 by husband and wife team Sue and Jim Hardie; although now under new ownership, the much-loved Hairy Fig remains one of the city’s most charming eateries. Specialising in draught vinegars, hams and cheeses, and quality continental bread, over the years the Hairy Fig has received ongoing enthusiasm for the artisan produce they sell and the infectious kitsch interior which draws customers in.
Following in the footsteps of his parents, Manager Chris Davies opened Expressions Vintage after the market stall he ran with his parents outgrew itself and needed permanent premises. Now, housed on Walmgate just before the bridge, Expressions covers a broad array of vintage clothing and unique pieces; selling one-off 1950’s dresses alongside an eclectic range of American sportswear pieces, and cushions sold by Chris’, it’s this shop’s humble charm which draws customers in from near and far to see what’s new in their ever-changing stock.
Nestled underneath a quite aptly overgrown ivy, Botanic plant shop is this city’s little slice of the jungle, and it can be found half-way down the long stretch of Walmgate. Owner, Emma Grubb was kean to bring the benefits of greenery to the city, in a shop of two rooms which now are both filled wall-to-wall with rare plants and cacti, along with a whole host of other plat accessories such as ceramic plant pots, hanging baskets, plant stands, and of course plant guide books.
As what started out as a hobby for Brad Want, he has now created what would be described as the ultimate eco-friendly and community-friendly business; by taking old, out of use bikes and restoring them back to road-worthy condition. Brad is essentially self-taught, learning from YouTube videos and online guides he refurbished and restored bikes in his back garden as a pastime. But after starting a family, he decided to turn his hobby into a business; he started an enterprise programme in 2010 where he was taught the basics of business and book-keeping and he soon opened Re-Cycle on Walmgate. Word soon spread about Re-Cycle and around 100 bikes were sold in the first month; it proved to be particularly popular for York students seeking reliable yet affordable bikes.