If there’s one thing you will discover this week (if you haven’t already) it will be the joy of a post-night out takeaway. It will probably be suggested by your STYC, it may well be from that sub-human pit of grease and crumpled dignities, Efes Pizza, and it will either dramatically increase or gradually decrease your desire to vomit.
Crazy though it seems, there is more to takeaway in York than Efes. Indeed, there is far more to food in York than a takeaway, but that is for another time, when you are neither hungover nor in need of many carbs in little time.
If you’ve made it to The Willow and endured the inevitable hour-long queues, you are probably so elated to get into this place that everyone has been telling you about, and so far gone from the novelty of the £1 shot/prawn cracker combination, that you very likely have met the delightful Mr Okie and his kebab van, lying in wait around the corner.
Top marks for being a chatty guy, breaking up bitch-fights, and for knowing exactly who he is catering for – namely the mildly drunk to the completely paralytic. Also, lots of Yorkshiremen. Hence the prevalence of gravy with everything, an expanse of elephant-leg donner, and a tendency to call you ‘love’ or ‘chuck’.
Mr Dennis (I am reliably informed) at the bottom of Parliament St, and the Efes van at the top, both sell very similar fare, at very similar prices, with equally unidentifiable meat. Anyone would have thought there were freshers and stag parties around.
However, there is an option that does not involve you eating cold shame-pizza off of your floor the next morning. It is not a requirement to wonder if the flecks of grey matter on your pizza are meat or in fact the recurring contents of your stomach. ‘Revelations!’ I hear you cry. Although not the cheapest option on the market, it certainly is one for the occasional comfort fix.
In terms of actually edible takeaways, York has a surprising amount to offer. Dispel all thoughts of grey, grizzly, greasy Efes from your mind, and look to the brighter side of takeaway. For pizza, you could do worse than Sizzlers. Rated one of the top take-outs in the UK by hungryhouse, they serve up a good selection of pizza, calzone, jacket potatoes and more.
In a pre-Freshers’ Week foray into the joys of take-away (this is where the volunteers came in), they scored well on appearance (although how far wrong can you go with pizza?), the ratio of meat to everything else, and they also managed to come up with a cheerful deliveryman. Something of a rarity, I would say.
We shared a meat calzone, which was crisp, steaming and enormous. Costing £6.50, it’s easily a meal for one guy or two girls. And at £5.60 per 10” pizza, it’s less than half the price of Dominos.
Moving on, but not away from carbs by any means, we come to fish and chips. As I may have mentioned already, it can be tricky to escape the gravy, but do not be discouraged by the stony silence at your refusal. In my experience, the best chippy by miles is Harpers of Wetwang. Despite the unappealing name, it serves fresh, crunchy and generous portions of fish, pie (and gravy), sausage, and chips. What’s more, it’s opposite the Shell garage, so well within walking distance of campus. It’s not the cheapest around; Jenny’s Fish and Chip opposite Walmgate Bar is fairly good value, but in terms of quality, Harpers is unparalleled.
We moved on in our carb-laden takeaway feast to Indian food. That staple of takeaways which seems to crop up on every street corner and waft into every hungry nostril. There are many possibilities around; Chenab on Hull Road, Indian Fusion, Mirchiz on Fishergate, to name a few, and probably in that order.
Chenab is fine, but nothing more. Indian Fusion was involved in our Pre-Freshers experiment, and had an excellent delivery time; almost twice as fast as everyone else. We had vegetable samosas which were fiery and crisp, sog-free and flavoursome.
We also tried a chicken tikka balti which, although the chicken looked “like fluorescent industrial waste” according to one takeaway companion, tasted spicy but not overpowering, and had a melting, gentle, and not too runny sauce. Mirchiz, another recommendation from hungryhouse.co.uk, took an age to deliver, but from experience is worth the wait. They use very fresh vegetables and herbs; they make an effort with presentation (unlike many curry takeaways); and they manage to produce something drawing level with curry you might eat in a restaurant, rather than from a tupperware. They do tend to have a lot of sauce and not much else in some recipes, but the taste is enough to make up for that.
From the usual to the less so, we looked for Thai, Cantonese, or Japanese takeaway as a change from curry or chips. What we found was OneCook, a takeaway which caters for all these and more. In a way, they almost spread themselves too thin. As a result we had the bewildering combination of mixed dim sum, which was delightfully fluffy, flavoursome, and had a good variety; a tapas size panaeng neua which was slightly watery but had a good selection of vegetables and plenty of meat; and miso soup. The miso was a disappointment with overcooked, slimy tofu, but the soup itself had good flavour.
Takeaway is not just something for a hangover. It can make a girly night in or a post-lads’ night out just that little bit better, if you know where to go.
It is worth hunting around for the best places; an advantage of York being so small is that most places deliver. So, just occasionally, forget Dominos, forget cooking, and as the annoying and mildly 118-esque advert says, “Don’t cook, just eat”. And don’t eat the shame-pizza. Just don’t. M