Food & Drink Muse

SPARK* Review: Re-Igniting York's Food Scene

Imogen Willis and Alice Weetman explore the Independent eateries at Spark* York, located in the heart of the city

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Image Credit: Alice Weetman

CHOW STREET FOOD - “Fusion; French influenced with Asian flavours.”

Chow offers delicious Asian-fusion food cooked by Michelin-trained chef Danny Franklin. His understanding of seasoning makes this an excellent place to try something new. In the future Danny hopes to branch out and establish his own chain of restaurants. We tried his Korean Chilli and Duck Ramen, and black bean and Jackfruit Bao Buns -we were very impressed.

MUSE: What do you think the draw of Asian food is?
Danny Franklin: It’s exotic and different. There are so many elements of flavour to Asian food. They eat things that would make you want to scrunch your face up. It’s called ‘umami’, because that’s the feeling produced by that sour, sweet, savoury combination.
MUSE: If you could describe your food in one
word what would it be?
DF: It’s a fusion. My food is all French influenced with Asian flavours to jazz it up. It
isn’t Japanese, it’s not Chinese, it’s not Malaysian, it’s not Thai, it’s a mixture of all of them. With Asian food it’s about having the palate to know how to play with your seasonings. As a young chef you learn how to season things with salt, you start with things like risottos and soups, and you get that background flavour and knowledge. Then when you get higher up you learn more about seasoning with other things : seasoning with vinegar, sugar, citric acid, there’s so many other ways to season. It’s about layering, when you know how to layer all the flavours it doesn’t matter what you’re cooking because you’ve got the base layer which you work to build up.

If you want to try out Danny’s take on Asian-fusion he serves in Spark* regularly throughout the week. To keep up to date with new recipes and additions to the menu at Chow, then you can find Danny on the following social media:
Instagram:@chowstreetfoodFacebook: CHOW

CARDAMOM & DILL - “Sunshine-y and vibrant. Feels like coming home.”

The first container on the right as you enter Spark* is home to Cardamom & Dill, a lovely new eatery which has only been open for three months. With its baby pink walls, photos from Kate’s travels, and a heater that keeps you at a pleasant 25 degrees, Cardamon & Dill transports you to a warm holiday destination without the added costs.

The tastes are clean and punchy, and one trip will leave you feeling rejuvenated with plans for your return visit. Cardamom & Dill is owned and run solely by Kate Burton. She uses a rota of eight menus which rotate on an eight week basis, a formula
she uses to “keep people wanting”, encouraging her customers to try new dishes, while also returning for, firm favourites. Kate describes her food as ‘Sunshine-y and vibrant’, creating tastes that feel like “coming home”. The transformed storage unit is kept at a specific temperature, as being warm and comfortable when eating is important to Kate who wants “people to leave thinking they’ve been on holiday”. Each week the menu changes to a different country of interest that Kate has either visited or lived in, from the provincial through to countries like Lebanon and Syria. Kate’s authentic recipes are variations of those from people she has met during her travels. Her vision is to allow her customers to understand food culture around the world through eating.

Although a self-proclaimed meat eater, she is passionate about opening up people’s tastes to different vegetarian and vegan food - and understanding that it actually tastes good while also being very nutritious. Kate uses authentic ingredients that are sourced locally, emphasising the importance of understanding where the food comes from. Designing the menu around fruit and vegetables that are available and in season, Kate sources most of her produce from Millies on Bishopthorpe Road, and has one customer who grows food for her on her allotment.
The food on offer in York is good but conservative, and Kate feels that Spark* has massively changed that, offering “something much more interesting” than just cafes and cake shops. Her brunch service offers the Turkish themed meneman, instead of conventional brunch items. She also offers a
monthly supper club and once the clocks go back, Kate will be doing other themed nights.
Instagram: @cardamom_and_dill

CLUCKING OINKS - “Best fried chicken in York.”

Their branding has a fun American-diner feel to it with striking pink that catches the eye. We tried the chicken strips with their homemade sauces and halloumi fries. The chicken breast was tender and the batter was light with a good crunch. Of the homemade sauces: sriracha mayonnaise, cheese sauce, hot sauce and barbecue sauce, the barbecue was particularly impressive. It contains ginger beer and is caramelised on a slow cooker overnight to achieve its trademark warmth.

MUSE: How would you describe this to someone who has never eaten here before?
Clucking Oinks: Undoubtedly, the best fried chicken in York!
MUSE: If you could describe this business in one phrase what would it be?
CO: Well we have one already actually! ‘I believe I can Fry’!
MUSE: And what’s your favourite item on the menu?
CO: Clucking hot. I really like spicy food. It’s our homemade hot sauce, homemade pickled red cabbage, and chicken strips. It’s probably the smallest burger on the menu, but it is amazing. We also have our own app if you want to order from us.
MUSE: What’s the story behind the name ‘Clucking Oinks’?
CO: When it started out, it wasn’t just fried chicken, it was fried chicken, pulled pork and waffles, so proper American style food. Doing that here wasn’t going to be practical with the equipment we would need in the space we have to work with. So it’s a bit misleading, but the name just stuck. Weirdly, the branding is exactly the same as a company in Amsterdam that make bracelets!

If you fancy fried chicken during the week, Clucking Oinks have their own app available to download from the App store with 20 per cent off your first order. To keep up with their latest news follow them on their social media below:
Instagram: @cluckingoinksTwitter: @cluckingoinks

SLOPPY’S BURGERS - “Just Class.”

Sloppy’s offered us a delicious array of burgers and chips from their menu, including their trademark hot wings which are only available online.
We tried their curry fries, dirty fries, cheese louise and classic cheese burgers, all of which reflected their fresh ingredients and on site cooking. For lovers of takeaway food who are looking for less grease and more flavour, Sloppy’s is a great place to consider. Although we tried a variety of sides and mains, the menu rotates frequently at Sloppy’s we suggest you check on their JustEat page.
The menu on which they also offer online exclusives, delivering until 9pm. This is definitely the perfect hangover cure and we would personally recommend the dirty fries - it’s a taste sensation!
Here are their social media channels:
Instagram: @sloppysburgers Facebook: Sloppy’s Burgers Twitter: @sloppysburgers

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Our final thoughts...
The food on offer at Spark* is an innovative and exciting addition to York’s already impressive culinary landscape. It was nice to veer away from much-visited brunch spots in favour of smaller independent food and drink businesses that are deserving of plenty of praise. Spark* York itself offers opportunities for up and coming brands to advertise themselves and gain popularity. We left with a sense of the strong friendships and community that have been built between these businesses through Spark*. An exciting example of this is the up and coming fusion of Sloppy’s Burgers and Clucking Oinks into a joint venture. The variety of food really does cater to all tastes and requirements as well. Cardamom & Dill serves predominantly vegetarian food, while Chow offers a wide variety of vegan options. With the upcoming addition of Small Batch Bakery to the venue, this will only add  to thriving network that Spark* hosts at their York venue.

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