Barbakan was the first cafe we visited when the Spring term started and it could possibly be our favourite cafe in York by far. Serving up delicious authentic Polish cuisine for lunch and dinner, it is a small cosy establishment located along Walmgate (right beside the popular Il Paradiso del Cibo, and not too far from The Blue Bicycle as well).

It is apparently a family-run business, and while it is mainly staffed by just two chefs and two waiters (including  Anna, one of the two owners) on weekdays, a weekend visit saw youngsters and other members of the family helping out with the larger crowds during mealtimes as well. For some reason, I love the fact that it is such an independent set-up; while service takes a little longer than usual, they do try their best to be prompt, and everything feels so much more personalised.

Barbakan brings a little slice of Poland closer to home with it’s exotic decors and colour schemes. 

Apple and almond tarts; One of  the great selection of pastries and cakes available at the Barbakan.

Our lunch 

Pierogi – Pan fried dumplings filled with beef or fresh pot cheese and potatoes,  topped with fried onions. (£ 6.95)

Nat:  Dumplings are always a surprise, the cheap thrill of biting into one and working out an interesting taste. Although they were slightly on the drier side, the dumpling skin was well pan-fried and seasoned with salt and pepper. I really enjoyed how the dumplings sealed in the natural juicy flavours of the beef mince.

Yuen: The dumpling skin was crispy and wasn’t too thick, and I love the cheese and beef filling that was used for this because it gave the dumplings a very different twist from the Chinese ones that I am used to! Also thought that mayonnaise garnishing was a nice touch and complemented the dumplings really well. Overall, the dish felt heartily like someone’s home cooking, which was a really cosy feeling.

Prawn –  Icelandic prawn in Marie Rose sauce, tomato and cucumber  £ 4.75

Nat: The vegetables and prawns were really fresh, and the Marie Rose sauce gave the entire salad a unique tangy touch.

Yuen: A good balance to the rest of our hearty dishes (: The benefit of eating in larger groups is that you get to have more variety! The prawns were fresh enough, and the mix of tomato, cucumbers and onions complemented the overall taste well.

Placek po wegiersku – A Potato pancake with Hungarian style beef goulash served with sour cream. £ 6.95

Nat: The presentation of a dish always enhances it’s appeal and gets me really excited. I thought it cute  how they had the pancake cover the goulash almost like a taco. The pancake was crisp but at the same time chewy. I’m guessing they used some form of potato starch whilst making the pancake to give it that chewy texture. I love beef goulash, so I was really looking forward to trying it. The beef was really tender and the stew was bursting with lovely herbal flavours, of rosated vegetables and paprika. The pancake complimented the beef wonderfully, and this was my favourite dish from the lot we ordered. Thank you Meryl for the recommendation!

Yuen: One of my favourite dishes too! I remarked that the pancake tasted a little like the Singaporean Indian version of the Thosai….basically the skin had a slightly sour/tangy taste to it, which worked to its advantage actually because it contrasted well with the savoury beef goulash. I also really liked the texture; not too thick, pan-friend until slightly crispy, and they were really generous with the goulash helpings.

Lasagna – the traditional ‘Classic’ £5.45

You can never really go wrong with cheese, bolognese and pasta sheets. The three ingredients complimented each other so nicely, especially the tomato based sauced that was oozing with such wholesome flavour. So much so we ended up using it as a dip for the remaining bread in our complementary bread basket.

Blueberry and Hazelnut Cake

Nat:  The layer of cream boast strong berry flavours, with random bits of blueberries embedded within them. The cake base balances out the heavier taste of the cream creating a lovely blend of sweetness with each mouthful. This cake was unpretentious, and simple. A delightfully light and refreshing end to a wonderful meal.

Yuen: I’m still on the hunt for great dessert in York (most restaurants that serve up decent mains seem to be lacking in the sweets department), and Barbakan’s treats are definitely in the running to be one of the best. Blueberry and hazelnut seemed like such an intriguing combination, and unlike certain desserts such as cheesecake that can come across as really cloying if not done well, the effect of finishing this made you feel like it was quite a wholesome end to a satisfying lunch (: The cream was light, tasty and frothy, and the blueberries were fresh and juicy. At about 2 quid for a slice, it was also really worth it as well!

Barbakan is a such a great place for a meal, we definitely recommended it to anyone who comes down to York.

Nat: Barbakan revisited

The other weekend Matt came up to York for a visit, and I knew for sure where to take him.

Home made mushroom soup served with bread roll £ 3.00

Honestly one of the best mushroom soups I’ve ever had. It had such a unique taste to it…. Usually the proportions of mushroom to soup is balanced, however this bowl of goodness was largely filled up with finely diced up mushroom giving the soup an interesting texture. It was full of wholesome flavour, peppery, fresh… beautifully cooked. I am already looking forward to trying more of their soups the next time I visit (:

Meat balls  with wild mushroom tomato sauce and linguine pasta £ 5.45 

Unlike how pasta and sauce would normally be mixed together before service, this dish was clearly separated into different piles. Perhaps it was for you to taste the untouched flavours of the linguine and meatballs before they are infused together. It was a typical pasta dish, however the meatballs were generous in portion, well marinated and juicy. The main star of the dish.

California – roasted chicken, pesto mayo, green olives and sun-dried tomato £ 4.45

The Hungarian pancake was not available that day, with a whole lot of other specialities. After much thought, I finally settled for California. The thing I love about sandwiches is how each bite is packed with so much crunch and flavour, with the vareity of fillings in between them. The green olives lightened up the taste of the pesto mayo, while the sun-dried tomato provided a tangy touch to the well roasted chicken.

The Barbakan
58 Walmgate


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