Access to good wine in York has never been a problem, but evening destinations focused on such are only starting to gain a real foothold. Vahe has been giving out glasses of house wine far better than the price would suggest for years, but it was only with the opening of Veeno that wine became the headline for a city centre bar. Another option has expanded this market now though and is quickly making a name for itself.
|Pairings opened with self-assuredly little fanfare recently on Castlegate, the intriguingly-named brainchild of two sisters who have a passion for good wine, good food and our lovely home city. With previous roles between them ticking off luminaries such as Hotel Du Vin and the Star Inn the City, the omens were always positive and I’m very happy to see that promise delivered on in spades. Sorry if you were expecting a bit more intrigue in this piece!
Let’s go back to that name. This is a place to form friendships, hold conversation and discover combinations of flavour and drink: all types of pairing that are sure to come together for a lovely evening.
Pairings is set up to offer a place to sit in which conversation is possible above the dreaded blaring music, and their table service doesn’t push formality to uncomfortable levels. You can feel free to pitch up to grab a cheeky desert and sweet wine after a meal elsewhere, or stroll by on your way out of work to nibble something and plan the remainder of the evening.
It’s equally easy to relax for a couple of hours though, taking in a variety of wines and food. Which is exactly what we did. The menu offers platters of cheese and meats that are complemented by bread, olives, pork pie, oils and honey to drizzle to your heart’s delight.
Wanting a red and a white to go with our feast, we took a carafe of Grillo and a bottle of Tempranillo. Something worth considering on a practical level (that I hasten to add I checked before ordering that much wine) is that you can take home leftover wine should your greed outstrip your constitution.
Our platter arrived quickly and was voluminous enough to necessitate moving to another table. I’m not going to rave in detail about every element, it’d take too long, but the standard was extremely high across the board. The advice on which we’d chosen the wines was spot on, the accompaniments were hearty and made up a good-sized meal and the cheeses and meats were fantastic. In particular, the smoke-cured beef and chorizo were fantastic.
After eating and drinking our fill in relaxed surroundings we wrapped the leftover scraps up in foil, capped the remainder of the wine and strolled off into the night. This was neither our first or last visit to Pairings, and we’ll certainly be back again. So many places to eat or drink can fill one niche extremely well but lack flexibility. The evening I’ve described here cost fifty quid including more excellent wine than we could drink and enough food to warrant taking leftovers away but we’ve also popped in for tasty breakfast, a quick drink and the aforementioned cheeky dessert. Walking that tightrope between those different uses is a tricky thing to do and something that’s absolutely nailed here.
Clearly there’s no surprise conclusion here, all the more so given that I’ve already proclaimed my liking for the place, so there’s not a massive amount more to say. No negatives of any significance spring to mind so I can only apologise if this reads like they paid me (they didn’t – impartiality still intact!) to say nice things but hey, what’s the point in doing this if you can’t be nice about the gems you find?