Christmas Hits Hard At The Yard

Christmas Hits Hard At The Yard

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TALKING SHOP

Every now and then there is a person or a group of people that some how manage to start right in the middle of an over populated and saturated market and somehow manage to not only wade through it to the front, but charge forward and tear through the restraints of recent clichés and deliver something truly special. It has now been just over a year since Wayland’s Yard opened its doors on Foregate Street in Worcester and they have done exactly that. I couldn’t be more impressed by how it has gone for Sam and his team as they seemingly just gets stronger and stronger, punching above it’s weight class when situated 50 yards from a newly opened Seattle based sugared bathwater shop it is a truly impressive feat that quality and care are maintaining peoples interest better than big brand corporate coffee. This is an exciting prospect as it means people are willing to stick with real produce and have an honest, genuine experience rather than just wanting to Instagram a take away coffee cup with your name written on the side in sharpie pen.

Wayland’s Yard represents something. 12 months ago it represented Sam’s own life after rugby and his own passion, now it stands for his whole team. You get a feeling it is all about the collective now (It always was in essence but you can feel how established it really is today) the controlled chaos of a busy moment where you have sporadic blasts of food walked past you from their impressive menu, silky hand shaped latte art, smiles on the faces of all the staff and the excitement and instant fuss and joy a new dog gets when walked in through the front door. It’s a spot where you can truly be safe, comfortable and happy in an environment that sets you up to do exactly that. The best part about this is that not only is the environment that surrounds you but the stuff that is getting dropped off before you. The food is to such a high quality I honestly don’t think I am capable of eating anywhere else in Worcester anymore. Seriously man this place just ticks all of my boxes and they look after everybody so well why would you want to go anywhere else?

FESTIVITIES

This visit was to have a look round their Christmas event which I believe was orchestrated by Polly, a friendly and attentive member of the team who looked after me while I was there. The festivities were marked by stalls from local hand made gift companies and crafters, which included things like hand made jewellery, Christmas cards and organic soaps. I managed to cop some soothing foot balm for my dog as he struggles with itchy paws so that was a life saver! There was some really interesting and talented people on show which really tapped into the philosophy of the whole business. Support the proper, honest and local people trying to make their way in the world against the constant incoming tide of mass produced mediocrity. I also got a few hand made Christmas cards for my family to add a bit of a unique twist to my gift giving this year, I can attest to this being a lovely little addition to Worcester in general not just to Wayland’s Yard. Almost the definition of ‘keeping it real’ without wanting to use too much a dead phrase from the early 90’s.

In the now fully developed Victorian high walled Yard mentioned in the name, was not only the mini festive market but also a showcase of local musical talent too. Throughout the weekend there was a variety of brilliant local solo artists and groups that added to the atmosphere and collective buzz of the event and it was a really nice touch. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the Saturday which Sam said was possibly the busiest day they have ever had, however, following on their Instagram story while I was helping to cater a family event allowed me to tap into the fun from afar. Again an element of the whole package that makes a difference to people. Even when I am not there I am still constantly connected to the comings and goings at the shop and it keeps people truly invested in the long term success of their favourite coffee shop.

FOOD

I might have to make a slight apology on this one actually. Upon finishing my meal Sam asked me how it was and I shook my head. I wasn’t shaking it in a negative way at all. It was just a little big ridiculous how good they managed to make 2 crumpets. Genuinely I am not just gushing for the sake of it here they were f***ing silly good. I don’t even usually like crumpets! so to start at the beginning, I was greeted by Polly and given a quick down-low of how the weekend was working and immediately directed towards the special board which had the words ‘eggy crumpets’ sitting on it. Not usually something that would bother me at all but upon really getting my eyes in a few keys words flew into my eye holes. Halloumi. Chorizo. Smoked Chilli Jam. ermmm… yes, yes and yes. I ordered this accompanied by my usual decaf white chocolate latte (Next level. regardless of its unleaded nature) and the Mrs had the ‘Fry up’ which I have touched on in a previous write up so I won’t review that again apart from saying its worth it for the sausages and the sweet potato hash alone.

The food came out really quickly and what I was presented was a vibrant looking dish that even made the humble crumpet look like a bit of a star. What graced my plate were two, soft and fluffy, eggy crumpets (think French toast with a crumpet) with 2 grilled pieces of halloumi, scattered with crunchy fried chorizo, finished with finely sliced red chili and lashings of rich smoked chilli jam. It was bloody ridiculous. Hence my initial head shake. The textures of the crumpet, cheese and chorizo just made it a constantly changing experience that you never really got settled in to, which is great as you don’t become complacent. You pay attention for the entire meal and then from the background the chilli jam gives you a sweet heat to melt away the saltiness from the cheese. Obviously this is followed by a size 8 fresh chili shaped foot up your arse but the best way to describe it is a comfortable heat that compliments the dish. Think of a size 8 jelly shoe rather than a size 8 steel toe cap. Subtle… Its certainly present but it could be a lot more aggressive! I like my heat anyway, so more of that please. Wicked good. Overall and as always, bang on. Only major draw back is that is currently a special and not on the main menu. Petition goes live Monday and the picket line outside the shop on Tuesday guys.

Finish

To end this visit to Wayland’s Yard I want to be open and say just how much they continue to impress me. As a business, as a team and as a coffee shop, it feels like so much more now. I address this to everybody there now when I say: You all clearly live and breathe the ethos Sam wanted to create when opening the shop and made what started as his personal next step into a real landmark on Worcester’s high street. The atmosphere and quality is down to all of your hard work and I hope that you continue to do what your doing as you all contribute to the heart and soul, which lots of your competitors lack. The soul of WY is what keeps people coming back for more and I am proud to say I contributed at the very beginning however little, in the crowd funding campaign. Sam, If you and the team keep doing what your doing, whatever comes next for Wayland’s Yard is going to be a big success. Keep it up and I and many others will keep coming back.

Overall a great morning was spent enjoying proper food and proper coffee… provided by proper people. Thank you Wayland’s Yard and Merry Christmas to all of my readers!

 

 

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York – Hungry Buck on tour

These past few weeks have honestly been very eye opening for me. I have always thought of the south of England as the place to be for the discerning foodie to get their ‘rocks off’ as it were and I am not ashamed to say that I wasn’t entirely right.

I still think that the south stylises food trends in a way that is hard to match, for instance; The traditional sleepy Devonshire seaside town with its cream tea’s and fish bars, the fashionable edible universe that is Brighton, Food markets and street food gems of London and everything else that incredible big city has to offer. However the UK has thrown me a curve ball in the shape of the walled medieval city of York, and what a place it is indeed.

First of all I will say that I know Yorkshire has a lot to offer but I have always just been more drawn to the in vogue south as all of us textbook, cliche foodies are, so apologies to Yorkshire for ever even remotely underestimating your produce. From the moment I got their I was completely and utterly spoiled for choice when it came to choosing our plan of action in terms of where to visit, the vast and rich history seeps out from under every cobble and brick. The Minster has a fantastic presence in the city as its Gothic architecture pierces the skyline from every direction, the walls mark the outskirts and whisper the tales of hundreds of years of marauding invaders with its visible battle scars, weathered but ever present. So many battles that have since been forgotten by the modern world happened in the city, a person would be forgiven for stopping in their tracks while walking the walls, running their hands across the ancient wall and wonder just how many people have done the same over the thousands of years it has existed.

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All this makes for an incredibly dramatic backdrop for a gastronomically motivated tour of the city. Speaking of which, I guess I should show you some of what we found. First of all, we arrived needing to find something to eat quite badly so it was very much a case of diving in and seeing what we could find. Now there is a LOT to get through so I will give a few mini reviews and tips regarding what to do and where to eat in this post, then finish off with two more thorough, extensive write ups about the top marking places that we discovered during our stay.

Bagel Nash

We arrived early afternoon in York and checked into our bed and breakfast with food already on our minds. We walked around the city scoping out everything available and came to a place called ‘Bagel nash’, a brand that I wasn’t familiar with until I did a little digging. They are predominantly a northern based chain who operate from their Leeds HQ and prepare bagels while you wait, in a sort of ‘Subway’esque way and also have a range of smoothies to go with their extensive bagel and filling options.

We went for the mozzarella and pesto bagel and the smoked salmon, cream cheese and olive (New york) both on wholemeal, with a fruit smoothie each. It wasn’t a cheap meal for the amount of food that we had but it was very enjoyable filler and it certainly serves its purpose. The decor was modern and quite interesting without being over the top or soulless. Luckily, It also didn’t have any underlying guilt factor like most fast food and it felt like we were only putting good, positive things into our system after a fairly lengthy drive. Overall it was a very pleasant experience and I would encourage you make a visit to them if you get chance.

Visit rating: Give it a try

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The Shambles

Following this we went for a bit of an exploration around the Shambles, which is a series of lanes, market stalls and eateries that have a more independent feel to them. What a hidden gem the shambles is, although a diamond in the rough in comparison to say The lanes’ In my beloved Brighton, the shambles has a lot to offer. There is so much going on down there its hard to keep track of but its certainly worth a look, every turn of the head presents a new cafe, pub, sweet shop or another foodie oasis in a beehive of cobbles and hungry punters. We didn’t end up eating anywhere around the shambles in the end as we were spoiled for choice and seemed to be a little overwhelmed with choice, while also being short on time trying to pack so much in to a few days. The Shambles is a place well worth a visit and there is a lot available to see, eat and drink.

Visit rating: Essential.

Wild boar pies, found at a pasty and pie shop in The Shambles.

Wild boar pies, found at a pasty and pie shop in The Shambles.

Cafe Concerto

Walking around for a while and taking in some of the culture on offer (such as the best busker I’ve ever had the pleasure of coming across playing a full on piano int he middle of the street) I developed a need for coffee and cake. As some of you may know the need for coffee and cake is an insatiable one and in my experience can lead you into two types of places. Really good ones that leave you feeling as happy and satisfied as a ‘pig in muck’ as they say, or alternatively leave you fuller but no more satisfied than if you’d eaten a bowl of dry porridge. It might fill you up but its not good for the soul.

Luckily on this occasion it led us to a little place by the Minster called ‘Cafe concerto’ that comes with tag line of ‘Truly independent -The ultimate neighbourhood restaurant’. This appealed greatly as we saw there was a few attractive options on the dessert menu and tea/ coffee was available too, so we sat down and I ordered the Vanilla and chocolate cheesecake and a cup of coffee while my fiance ordered a tea and a banoffee pie. After a few minutes the desserts were dropped off at our table by a pleasant member of staff and we got stuck in.

The cheesecake was a baked new york style vanilla cheesecake with little flecks of chocolate running through it, I find cheesecakes can be a little too much towards the end but this one was enjoyable all the way through. I found it wasn’t overly dense which is usually a bit of a bug bear when it comes to cheesecakes and the biscuit base was pretty good too to be fair, even better when paired with a coffee. My partners banoffee pie however was just too sickly for me as it was just a bit too sweet, if you like a lot of cream and to take sweetness to the next level then that is the best choice for you. Just a bit too rich for my blood I think.

Decor was a bit ‘woody’ but it was really a nice place to be. Its a little bit out of the sun so it can feel a little dark in there but its certainly not dingy, the wooden chairs aren’t the most comforting but the service and food on offer is warming enough, paired with the cool ‘chalky’ drawing of the Minster and the sheet music used as wallpaper it provides a very intriguing, jazzy feel to the restaurant which I love, being a musician myself. Very much enjoyed our visit here and would recommend you give it a try, its got a real individual personality and should be appreciated for it. Support the real independents!

Visit rating: Essential

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The Fudge Kitchen

One for the sweet toothed confectionery hunters out there, The Fudge Kitchen uses their own take on fudge to provide something a little bit different. They provide plenty of choice in terms of interesting flavours and even have a viewing area in the back of the shop so you can watch them make it.

In terms of the quality of their fudge I must say its very good and is well worth poking your head around the door for a sample. We went for the dark chocolate and sea salt. Very creamy and quite moreish but you will have to go in and see them if your a fudge fan, well worth a look. You can also buy online (go to the bottom of the page).

Visit rating: Worth a look

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These are a few of the notable stops that we took while in York and would genuinely recommend you have a look at if your in the area. The historical atmosphere and bustling city streets is a real treat for anybody who decides to visit, it is a fantastic place that really should be seen to be appreciated. I have two more reviews to go but I will be putting that into a ‘part two’ post this week, as this post is getting quite long and I want to go into a lot of detail on the final two restaurants. Nobody wants readers fatigue after all!

The final two big hitters that I have left to write about that really impressed me were La Vecchia Scuola and GBK: Gourmet burger kitchen. Keep your eyes peeled for comprehensive reviews on them both at a later date, In the meantime here are a few useful links if you are interested in traveling to York.

http://www.visityork.org/

http://www.fudgekitchen.co.uk/

http://www.cafeconcerto.biz/

http://www.insideyork.co.uk/what-to-see/shambles.html

http://www.lavecchiascuola.co.uk/

http://www.gbk.co.uk/