In days gone by, a trip to York meant only one thing: tea at Betty’s. Now, with my vegan sensibilities, I’ve given up Betty’s in favour of a meat-free little cafe just off the Shambles: Goji. York is a wonderful, ancient little city with a network of narrow streets of largely independent shops and eateries, so it shouldn’t be surprising to find somewhere amazing nestled in there. Now every time I sail past the queue at Betty’s and straight into the warmth at Goji, I can’t help feeling a little smug.
I’ve eaten at Goji probably four or five times in the last year, and I just love it. I’ve had the Sunday roast twice, and it’s easily my favourite thing on the menu (not including the cakes, obviously). The roast itself is chock-full of lentils and nuts. Nut roast has an unfair reputation as being a bit bland and sawdust-like, but I’ve never really found that to be the case, there’s always so much flavour. You get a really generous portion and a lovely mushroomy sauce surrounding it with those wonderful earthy flavours. The accompaniments are also pretty special: plain green beans don’t add much to it, but the cabbage and roasted carrots and parsnips are good, and it’s rare to get quite so many roasties, I find, so I’m happy with that. And behold, at the front of the picture, a vegan Yorkshire pudding! Whenever I see one on a menu, I devour it. True, it doesn’t look like a Yorkshire pudding – but inside it’s just the same and is a very welcome addition.
Goji also has an impressive cake selection in the window, luring in the passers by (it’s always busy in there, and does good take-out business too, with an enticing deli counter of samosas, salads, etc). The lemon and poppyseed cake is good, and I’ve had the chocolate hazelnut bundt cake before. This time I tried something completely new: the rose pistachio cake. The texture was just spectacular, it was a lovely moist sponge, with really subtle flavours (you have to be careful with rose, after all), and good creamy icing. A definite winner! Goji also has vegan cream and ice cream at the ready too, and a vegan sticky toffee pudding on the menu which I am, astonishingly enough, yet to try.
For anyone else who shares my old ‘York=Betty’s’ mentality, I urge you to cast your net a little wider. Next time you go to York, take a detour away from the crowds at Betty’s and opt instead for this tasty and cosy little place!