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Georgina Layton visits Bistro Guy restaurant, York

Georgina testing the Bistro Guy restaurant in York

Friday, 21st December 2018

Bistro Guy is an absolute gem in central York; during the day they serve home-made cakes, light lunches and seasonal specials and in the evening they open their doors as a bustling bar serving locally brewed beers and other alcoholic tipples alongside clay oven fired pizzas. The head chef, Guy, and his team made us feel so welcome and you could truly see that a lot of love and locally sourced ingredients go into every dish they create. The specials board is updated daily but do browse on the Bistro Guy website to see the current menu alongside which artists will be performing at the next upcoming music night held in the historic walled garden bar area.

Bistro Guy is in a perfect location to pop in when you want to leave the hectic centre of York slightly and enter this more peaceful area of the city! It’s places on a thriving high street where lots of small independent shops advertise their locally crafted or produced wares; a perfect location for last minute Christmas shopping or just for a browse! We were visiting York to have a look around the Christmas market and go to the York Minster annual carol service (there will be posts on these later) so the city was pretty busy. Despite this, York was overall an amazing city to wheel around in my wheelchair as even cobbled areas usually had a pavement made of large flagstones that was less rough to wheel on. Some historic areas don’t have access to their shops or buildings but due to the buildings’ age that is understandable. Despite these areas, York is the perfect city to visit for a day-trip or a weekend away and Bistro Guy is an absolutely wonderful bistro restaurant and daytime cafe to add to your hit list whilst in York!

Georgina outside York Minster

The location of Bistro Guy is absolutely ideal; it’s a short four minute walk / wheel from York Minster and the historic centre of the city but there is also a really handy public car park very near by. We parked in Bootham Row car park which is literally a two minute walk from Bistro Guy but there are other car parks across the city. If you’re a Blue Badge holder then you can park in any bay in any York City Council run car park for free for an unlimited time. Some of the car parks close overnight but the Bootham Row car park doesn’t so we left the car there overnight for the duration of our York festive trip. Do make sure to check the car park notice board for further details before you leave your car just in case any details might have changed since this was published.

There are plenty of dropped curbs around the area of Bistro Guy to allow a wheelchair user to easily cross the road and many of these are traffic light crossings so it makes it easy to cross the busy road. 

The black paintwork around the exterior sign is smart and striking and definitely sets the tone for the decor inside. Bistro Guy is decorated by someone who clearly thought hard about utilising the whole space carefully and elevating decor to a higher level than a cafe can appear, reflecting the fact that they open as a bistro restaurant on a Friday and Saturday evening. You could seat around 20 customers in the inside space with the current arrangement and Bistro Guy was definitely a popular place amongst both locals and visitors to the area; we saw many customers dining in the space and others popping in to buy coffee and cake “to go”. You can also hire the space for private functions if you live in the York area and are looking for a fresh new location for parties, celebrations or even business meetings!

When we visited, there were lots of festive decorations throughout the area but each was classy and looked homemade rather than being conventional, shop-bought decorations. There was also a special festive Christmas menu on offer for the evening opening times alongside the current evening menu and clay-oven fired pizzas! 

The specials board above the counter shows a variety of dishes served during lunch-time opening. I think these combined with the lunch menu gave a real variety and there would absolutely be something to suit every taste! The wide menu choice and cosiness of Bistro Guy make it a perfect venue for a first date, a gathering of friends, a family meal or even a business discussion/ engagement! There were a variety of table sizes so you could easily find one to suit every group size. If you are a wheelchair user then you might find it easier to choose a table close to the entrance doorway just because the central aisle got slightly tight when Bistro Guy filled up with customers and these tables gave you easy access while also allowing you to tuck yourself away close enough to the table that you didn’t feel self-conscious and block the aisle at all. 

Georgina at the Bistro Guy, York

My wheelchair is the WHILL Model C which is very compact for a powered chair and it has special omniwheels at the front which mean I can easily swing around in any space so pulling up to the seat was easy for me! I wouldn’t recommend visiting in a very bulky mobility scooter just due to the cosy space size. There is a very small lip as you enter through the main doorway but most wheelchairs should manage that without struggling at all! My WHILL can climb over a step up to two inches high so it made short work of that small lip!

I can’t sing the praises of the food enough!! Honestly, each dish tasted amazing, was beautifully presented on the plate and clearly contained high-quality local ingredients. I think Bistro Guy have been really innovative in the way they straddle being a cosy, independent business with hearty meals but also being forward-thinking with their specials meal choices whilst using locally sourced, quality ingredients. You can definitely taste that the Head Chef, Guy, has real culinary expertise and experience behind him!

Richard chose the Bistro Guy burger which was a ciabatta roll with two homemade beef patties sandwiched inside. These were topped with smoked applewood cheese, salad and spicy caramelised tomato chutney. To finish this tasty concoction off, there was a large gherkin and chunky hand cut chips. We both agreed that this was an amazing taste sensation - it was perfectly flavoured and the portion size was just right for a hearty, lunch meal!

I am always more of a sweet-tooth so I chose the Bistro Guy pancakes off of the specials board. These were two large, fluffy pancakes topped with crispy bacon, berry coulis, fresh berries and with a small jug of maple syrup on the side. These were a gastronomic delight to view on the plate and, of course, to eat! I loved eating these and really enjoyed the fact that I could have one of my favourite dishes (pancakes!) for lunch and with a crispy bacon, savoury twist.

We both ordered a pot of Yorkshire tea to share (when in York…) to wash our meals down. We both thoroughly enjoyed our meals and would certainly return to see what new dishes Guy had designed to place on the specials board. Most people were having full meals but we did see a couple of groups seated for hot drinks and cake also and each cake choice looked tasty too!

As I mentioned earlier, Bistro Guy opens on a Friday and Saturday evening for their wood-fired pizza nights alongside any evening menu they have running at the time (such as the current festive menu). The pizzas are fired in the clay oven just outside of Bistro Guy, in the back garden terrace area which overlooks the historic city walls of York. This had a separate bar area with a multitude of local beers available by the glass or even by the cask!!

This area had tasteful decorations and even had the thoughtful inclusion of a rug on the back of each chair if your group decides to dine/ drink outside even in the cooler weather. I could see this terrace absolutely heaving in the summer months throughout the day and into the evenings when Bistro Guy opens for these. From talking to a few of the customers, it seems the regular events are also extremely popular at Bistro Guy such as the Sunday Sessions where a new musical performer joins Bistro Guy and you can buy an admission ticket that also includes a sourdough pizza fired right before your eyes!

There are two ways to enter this secret garden at the rear of Bistro Guy; you can travel down the passageway to the righthand side of the entrance doorway or you can enter the main Bistro Guy restaurant via the level-access doorway, wheel through the seating area and exit through the ramped doorway at the back of the restaurant. This would be a really easy way to access the back garden area but you may have to ask customers to pull their chairs in if all the interior tables were filled with customers. The side passage-way way to the rear garden included a slight lip over the first step and then a roughly 5” depth step at the end of the corridor. The easiest way would depend on the wheelchair you are using and how busy the restaurant is at the time.

The main difficulty I had with my visit to Bistro Guy was the toilet. There wasn’t a specific disabled toilet and the toilet they has was in the rear garden courtyard area in an outbuilding and there was a step of roughly 2” depth to enter the toilet building. You couldn’t enter with a wheelchair (even one as manoeuvrable as my WHILL Model C) as the doorway entered to an immediate lefthand turn of 90 degrees and then a righthand turn of 90 degrees to get you to the toilet itself. This was a distance of about two metres walking and the toilet itself wasn’t a disabled toilet so had no grab rails or any high-rise toilet seat. I think the main constraints here are the fact that many of the buildings in York are listed so any alterations are made difficult by this.

I think as long as you prepare for the fact that you might have to walk a short distance if you’re a wheelchair user then there wouldn’t be much of a problem here. 

Overall, Richard and I had an amazing time at Bistro Guy! We felt the cost space was well-decorated and the menu had a nice range of choices to browse through. Our food was delicious whilst also having hearty portions and we thought that a disabled customer could easily manage a visit as long as they are aware of the slightly tight central aisle and toilet arrangement. 

If you’re in the York area or are perhaps visiting then I would definitely urge you to give Bistro Guy a try, they are a true hidden gem within four minutes of the city centre!

This blog was originally published on Disabled Travel with Georgina

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