Review by Victoria Prest

MICKLEGATE’S renaissance has been well documented. Where once the street was known for its drinking establishments, and the crowds that flocked to them, now you will find a growing crop of classy restaurants, cool cafes and quirky shops – thanks in no small part to the efforts of the street’s own traders and proprietors.

The Micklegate Run – once a pub crawl and stag-do favourite – is now either the chance to hurtle down a cobbled hill in a cobbled-together fancy dress go-kart, or a culinary extravaganza.

Among this new (ish) crop is Partisan – a locally owned independent cafe serving breakfast, brunch and afternoon tea seven days a week, and dinner on some evenings.

Housed behind beautiful blue tiling on a historic frontage, it’s clearly popular - so much so that it has stopped taking daytime bookings for groups of anything less than six on Saturdays and Sundays.

So it was with a degree of uncertainty that we arrived, at 11am on a Saturday, hoping for a chance to try the brunch for which Partisan is building a reputation.

Despite that “no bookings” rule, we were lucky and managed to walk straight in to a comfortable table for two in the middle of a pleasant hubbub of Saturday morning brunchers.

Located in a diminutive three storey building between long-standing Micklegate favourite Brigantes and the Army recruitment office, it looks at first glance like a small cake shop – and it’s the cakes that first catch the eye as you wander in from the street.

Push past and you’ll find the main dining area towards the back of the building, where Partisan opens out and is furnished with antiques from The French House.

The all-day brunch menu includes a few favourites – eggs with soldiers (£4.50), Partisan’s own take on a traditional full English (£10), with vegetarian and vegan alternatives – but stretches beyond that into a few more interesting offerings from Mexican Eggs (£9), Persian Eggs (£8), to a Smokey Tempeh Sandwich (£6.50).

Our choices – Shakshuka (£8.50) and Eggs in Purgatory (£9) – both came attractively served in rustic looking black skillets – and on a cold March morning the appearance of a hot hearty meal was exactly what we wanted, and both came accompanied with a wedge of delicious sourdough bread.

Eggs in Purgatory consisted of eggs - baked to just the right point of runniness - with spicy sausage and a tomato and pepper sauce. The sausage itself seemed a bit sparse but the spiciness was certainly there, and the sauce had a powerful “wake you up” kick that was as warming as it was tasty.

Our second dish - Shakshuka - was the real star. Another skillet of baked eggs, this one came with spicy tomatoes, peppers and a sprinkling of creamy feta. With a flavour combination that really worked, the feta was complemented by the spices, the veggies were tender and the eggs were again baked to just the right point.

Both dishes were hearty, but luckily not too filling to stop us having the chance to try those eye-catching cakes, and we choose two (£2.50 each).

First impressions won for one - and a bright pink glazed rhubarb doughnut just demanded to be ordered. The dough itself was less sweet and more bready than a high-street doughnut, but it was perfectly set off by the sweet and extremely flavoursome icing that turned the rhubarb up to the max.

Our second choice – a raspberry almond cake – was less of a showboat. A simple mini-loaf with no colourful icing to recommend it – it was nevertheless delicious with a dense but not heavy texture, and a delicate flavour that was sweet without being sugary. Accompanied by a powerful flat white, they were a fitting end to a great meal.

It was a busy day, with empty tables occupied pretty quickly and a pleasantly relaxed buzz to the cafe, and service was friendly and helpful rather than lightening quick.

With its spot on a historic street that is a burgeoning destination in its own right, Partisan is a home-grown success story that deserves its growing reputation.

And despite the buzz, that “no bookings” policy means it’s still open and accessible for anyone who wants to pop in for a spontaneous weekend treat.

Partisan, 112 Micklegate, York, YO1 6JX.
Phone: 01904 629866

Food: Hearty 4/5
Ambience: Convivial 4/5
Service: Be patient 3/5
Value: Solid 4/5

Reviews are independent and paid for by The Press