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Harlequin Coffee And Tea House, York
LOCATED up one flight of stairs, this café is well worth the climb. It is family run, and you are likely to be greeted by Marie, while Gordon keeps his eye on proceedings from the food preparation area.
We have frequently commented adversely on cafés that leave vacated tables cluttered with dirty crockery. Not this venue. The speed with which tables were cleared and wiped should be a lesson to many competitors.
In addition to the table menus, there are two specials boards. One included a sandwich combining ham, Jarlsberg cheese and chutney or alternatively, Wensleydale cheese and real ale chutney.
Regular sandwiches in white or brown bread cost between £3.95 and £4.25, or up to £4.95 for a baguette. There was a range of fillings for jacket potatoes (£5.45 to £6.25) served with a half salad including locally sourced mixed leaves and homemade coleslaw. The cottage cheese salad with fruit and nuts (£6.25) sounded healthy in the extreme.
Ann had no difficulty in making her selection. An egg mayonnaise sandwich in brown bread would be fine. This was garnished with mixed leaves, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red pepper and grapes with a slice of lemon and Yorkshire crisps. Would she like any additional dressing? Yes please, some mayonnaise which came in a little dish.
My choice was vegetable soup and speciality bread (£3.85). Some cafés find it almost impossible to serve thick soup hot, but not Harlequin. It was piping hot and delicious.
We thought about a dessert. Sticky toffee pudding or caramel honeycomb ice-cream sundae were on offer. Toasted teacakes and scones (both £1.60), flapjack (£1.50) or even cinnamon and raisin bake (£2.25) would be more in our line, until we saw what was advertised on the specials board.
For Ann, it would be fruit loaf which surprised her when two toasted slices appeared with a dish of butter. This turned out to be an excellent choice.
I make no apology for sampling a Harlequin scone with organic raspberry jam and clotted cream (£3.45). This was another excellent choice, the jam as good as we have tasted in any café.
Our snack was completed with a pot of tea. Ann was quick to comment that neither teapot nor milk jug was filled to the brim. This made for easy pouring with no spills on the table.
The café remained full during our visit with customers of all ages. Ann noticed that the eyes of one youngster popped when a hot chocolate with whipped cream was placed in front of her.
What more can we say? It is appropriate that we should end our snacking adventures at a venue providing quality food with excellent service and easily accessible to York citizens and visitors alike.