A few weeks ago I was up early on a Saturday for once, so my brother and I decided to jump on a train and go and meet Mum in York. I always forget how much I love it there. The historic buildings, the river swelling, the throngs of people soaking in the sights (minus the stag and hen parties). It's a beautiful city, one that's only 20 minutes on a train from Leeds. After having a coffee at Fossgate Social, we decided to head for lunch at somewhere I'd been highly recommended, the Polish restaurant Barbakan.
Walking up Walmgate towards it felt like an Autumnal almost Dickensian moment. The leaves were amber, the buildings a rustic stone or of Tudor design, and this rosy establishment was beaming out onto the grey street. We walked inside and I was struck by the cosiness of it. The blues, the reds, the yellows. Light, bright and cheerful. We sat down at a table in the corner, a little sad that we'd just missed the breakfast/ brunch bracket (sidenote: kids eat free at this time), but excited for the pierogi ahead.
On the lunch menu were delicacies such as Gołąbki: cabbage leaves stuffed with spiced minced pork and rice baked in the oven and served with tomato sauce, and Zawijaniec, a pancake stuffed with buckwheat and vegetables, topped with mozzarella cheese and once again baked in tomato sauce. Other foods available were a kind of Polish hunter's stew, Hungarian goulash with potato pancakes, stuffed peppers, Meatballs and linguine, Fresh Scottish Mussels, as well as a host of salads and sandwiches.
We decided to share food, opting for the Courgette Fritters, as well as a mix of the the Beef and the Cheese pierogi, topped with bacon and sour cream. The fritters came with a fresh salad and a really nice orangey dressing.
After we'd finished, we sat for a while enjoying the ambience. I watched as an older lady, clad in beautiful zany clothes, hugged and kissed the waitress thanking her deeply. It looked as if they knew each other, like this was this woman's routine to come for a weekend bite of Eastern European cuisine in this warm, inviting, relaxing safe space. A smile spread widely on her face, as - I realised - it did on mine, too.