When a child-free lunch opportunity arose unexpectedly, it was the perfect opportunity to check out the new premises of Barbakan, the much-loved Polish restaurant. A promising sign that independent, family-run eateries can flourish in York, Barbakan has relocated its restaurant to the old Blue Bicycle building, just up the road in Fossgate.
It prompted a whirlwind of memories: me and my mum breaking up a tough day of shopping by tucking into stuffed pancakes at Barbakan (she loved it there); the whole family sitting down to a pricey celebratory meal for my 21st at The Blue Bicycle (I couldn’t taste anything as I was recovering from flu), and my husband and I spending our wedding night at one of the Blue Bicycle’s apartments. A lot has changed since then, but Barbakan remains the same in spite of the move.
The new space means that they’ve addressed my only criticism – it could feel cramped, and you couldn’t be certain of a table. The new restaurant feels more spacious but without losing the authentic atmosphere of the original. It’s cosy and inviting, but more relaxed and welcoming than its previous incarnation. We were welcomed with a big smile and given a window table so we could watch the geese go by (no otter sightings, sadly, although it’s worth keeping an eye out).
The menu too is reassuringly familiar, featuring all the Polish favourites, from zawijaniec (cheese-topped pancakes stuffed with buckwheat and vegetables) to bigos (hunter’s stew) and potato pancakes with goulash and sour cream. If you’re just in the mood for a sandwich, there’s a selection of those too (and a tempting breakfast menu as well). But we don’t go to Barbakan for sandwiches, we go for hearty Polish dishes. Our friendly waitress recommended the new vegan golabki (cabbage leaves stuffed with buckwheat and oyster mushrooms, served with a tomato sauce), while Mr Viking opted for the pierogi with spinach and smoked cheese. They turned up in gorgeous Polish pottery, piping hot from the oven and absolutely delicious.
We polished off the lot (no pun intended), leaving no room for anything from the tempting pudding menu, instead rounding off a lovely lunch with a rich coffee from Malton-based roastery, Roost. It’s wonderful to see The Blue Barbakan flourishing in its new home. My mum, no longer with us, would have approved. The kids’ menu looks tempting, so we’re planning to take our children along and introduce the next generation to the joys of Polish food.