Vegan friendly York.

Largest gothic cathedral in europe; a history rich with romans, Vikings, normans, arch bishops, railways and chocolate, you’d think York to be traditional and a bit sober.

Whilst the streets never heaved with anything more rowdy than sale shoppers or suffered bottlenecks beyond the tea shop doors, it is far from traditional.

Within its beautiful walls (walk them for a great view of the city) there are two vegetarian/vegan restaurants with spectacular food. Others have vegan options and don’t scoff at dairy free questioning.

Whilst it was here I looked up the word shambles in the dictionary to explain the state if disarray & discovered shockingly that shambles is also another word for abattoir; York will forever be linked in my mind with gorgeous sunshine, cobbled streets, stained glass windows, an open attitude & vegan cake.

The leader of the pack, by far, for me, was the Goji cafe/restaurant. For its creative and delicious vegan quiches, frittatas, wraps and salads it should win awards. The cakes are out of this world. Thursday was vegan day and it didn’t disappoint. Liquorice, chocolate & hazelnut, ginger stem cake, chocolate & ginger tiffin… There were about 6 or 7 different cakes. All vegan friendly!

The raspberry chocolate brownie torte I had on the first day blew my taste buds and my mind. It left me pining for time to get experimental baking!

Unfortunately the restaurant is only open for dinner on Friday and Saturday night. It’s up to Aunty Chris to try to recreate their stuffed pineapple from the dinner menu that had me at hello.

El Piano, could possibly be another’s number 1. 100% vegan & offering tapas for brunch or dinner. Choose a main element (mani mani quinoa, shepherds pie, soya meatballs, lentil dal etc) a fritter (tinas, tempura, falafel) & a salad to create your ultimate vegan meal combination.

The Tinas, a Bolivian (?) pakora type fritter, made from spring onion, carrot and a little bit of ginger I think, were our clear favourite along with the tomato and kiwi salsa salad.

There’s only room for one vegan tapas restaurant in York, with its 197,000 inhabitants, so our third is the tapas restaurant Ambiente, for its vegan friendly vegetable paella. Eaten with Yorkshire grown Padron peppers for a fiery twist. It was so busy with graduation night that we couldn’t get a table booked until 9.30 but they had the paella on the go before we got there so we didn’t have to wait long for that cast iron skillet of deliciousness that was my birthday dinner.

Beyond the free flowing vegan cake, some of my highlights were walking the walls; walking the streets of the full sized Victorian village in the castle museum; visiting the railway museum and seeing the beautiful A4 trains from the 20’s & the free guided tour of York Minster. In particular learning about the restoration of stained glass panels and seeing some before and afters of those they had restored. Whenever the panels had broken previously they had been mended with the tools available to the time. At that point lead was the only way to join the fragments but it obscures the picture. These days we have glue! As they put these glass jigsaw puzzles back together with glue and less of the added lead the stories become easier to read and their beauty shines. It’s possible to visit the studio where they are doing the restoration of the west panel but unfortunately not on the days we had left.

I’ll be back in 5 years to see the book of revelations back up in situ, if not before for vegan cake day!

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