All Bar One, York, April 2017

Yes, we are still in York. Another wonderful sunny day today. We checked out of our hotel, left our bags with reception, and then explored the city some more. We wandered around the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, the Minster, the Treasurer’s House, and went off to spot some wildlife along the river.

As it was such a lovely day, we did explore a few riverside pubs for lunch, but they were all absolutely rammed and had waits of nearly an hour for food. As it was already getting into late lunch territory, we wandered away from the river for a short time, and found ourselves at what we hoped would be a reliable chain for some lunch. All Bar One opened its first bar in 1994, and there are now over 50 dotted around the UK. I say “the UK” – there are 4 in Scotland and the rest in England, with half of those being inside the M25.

The first tick goes to the drinks menu. This is the kind of place that you expect endless lines of bland fizzy lagers, and you will find some of those. Thankfully they also have a “world and craft beer” section of the menu, which features a Spanish lager, a German wheat beer and a Belgian blonde ale, alongside some bigger (Adnams, BrewDog) and smaller (Fourpure, Siren) names from the UK beer scene.

Siren Liquid Mistress Red IPA was my choice, and it’s probably the best beer I’ve ever had in a chain pub, hoppy, malty and bitter.

Lots of options when it comes to food, we chose 5 things from the “small plates” menu, which essentially makes it an international tapas menu. Here’s what they looked like:-

And here’s what they were.

Just hiding behind a drink you can spot crushed avocado & tomato bruschetta, topped with kalamata olives. In front of that same drink sit some ginger teriyaki chicken skewers, served with pickled vegetables and sesame seeds. Next to those you might recognise salt & pepper calamari, tossed in a citrus, red pepper and pink peppercorn seasoning with a sweet chilli & lime dip (delicious).  At the bottom left you can see feta & spinach bourek, crisp pastry parcels served with chilli tomato jam. Finally, there are crispy duck dumplings with some deconstructed slaw and more sweet chilli sauce.

This turned out to be the perfect lunch. Light enough not to slow you down for the rest of the day, filling enough to keep you going for the rest of the day. Paired with a lovely beer, this was a surprisingly good lunch venue. There are plenty of great independent places (I’ve already showcased some of them), but sometimes the chains can do a good job too.

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