the york bucket list

Last week I posted about wanting to make the most of York before we move. I now have a list of places to visit while we’re still here – and a friend has referred to it as my ‘bucket list’. This week I managed four items from the list.

Strictly speaking, Il Paradiso was not on my bucket list, but that was mainly because I was unaware of its existence. I added it after we went. (Surely that’s allowed?) The restaurant features Juventus memorabilia, cheap tables crammed in and a huge portrait of the eccentric restaurant owner. From our table, Al could see his reflection in the toilet mirror – but, more reassuringly, we also had a great view of the kitchen. An open kitchen has nothing to hide.

For starters, I ate baked pecorino with asparagus and honey. Main course was king prawns (with a kick) accompanied by a really great risotto. By the time it came to dessert (Sicilian cannoli), I remembered to take a picture.

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What was great? The simplicity: just a few fresh ingredients combined exquisitely. The bill: we paid little over £50 for three courses and alcohol. The atmosphere: the owner was bustling around, chatting to us about each course and generally enjoying himself with his guests. Also it was crammed full. On a Tuesday night. Seriously – Al had to book a table, and even then we couldn’t get a reservation until 8.45pm.

Yesterday I visited the Hairy Fig – widely reputed to be the best deli in York. (Actually, there are many good delis in York, but this one is the other side of town, so I hadn’t tried it, and felt I should.) I bought pork pies – made fresh each day, they’re claimed to be the best in York. They were certainly very delicious. I also bought some incredibly good stuffed dates, and some less good but still palatable stuffed figs. Yum.

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Today we killed two museums with one stone. Firstly, the legendary Richard III museum. It’s housed in one of the ancient city gates – up a narrow stone staircase – hence why I hadn’t been previously (I’m usually attached to a buggy). But today, taking advantage of an extra parent in tow, I made it.

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Imagine that a Year 8 History class is told to produce a group display about the evidence for and against Richard III killing his nephews. Then imagine one group has access to a laminator. The result is pretty much what you get when you enter the first room of the museum. A couple of tiny prison cells lead off this room, and the upstairs room is a slightly more professional-looking affair. Visitors are asked to decide Richard’s verdict for themselves – while the museum itself takes a very strong pro-Richard stance. But the handmadeness of it all was just so appealingly fresh that I really didn’t care what propaganda was being flung at me. The whole experience was informative and entertaining.

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Joel posing on the good floor.

The final item for this week was the Bar Convent Museum. The museum itself gave an interesting history of both Catholicism and Protestantism in England, along with the fascinating background to the Bar Convent itself. But the cafe was worth visiting in its own right. Good floor, for starters. (All eateries should have good floors.) Scrummy hot chocolate and the best array of cakes I’ve seen in a long while.

I promise you that the bucket list is not all about food.