The Vanilla Cafe


August 15, 2012 by talkaboutyork

York is not short of a tea room or two. In fact you’d be hard pressed to walk for five minutes without passing some kind of establishment offering an enticing selection of cakes, pastries, teas and coffees. The most famous of all is Betty’s. We’ve yet to go there as there is always a queue out the door and it looks like the kind of place I’d have to tell my children in shushing tones to ‘sit down and don’t touch’. I will go there, but ideally with a girlfriend or my sisters who are visiting us for Christmas (yay!)

But there is one tea shop that I have visited twice – The Vanilla Cafe. It is situated on College Street, a quiet, peaceful tree lined little square, right behind the Minster. It has a handful of little tables and chairs on the pavement outside along with a traditional ice cream cart.


The window is bedecked with pretty bunting and vintage crockery. Stepping through the narrow door, it features a tiny ‘shop’ offering Victorian china, handmade cards, bunting, tea services and gorgeous trinkets.  There’s not much eating room inside, with just a glass cabinet displaying a range of cakes and a small kitchen you can see into.

But head up the steep, twisty stairs of this listed building and you find two quaint, cosy rooms. The decor is the type that inspires me to wear floral 1940s frocks and to put my hair into waves.  The front room has a table and chairs overlooking the pavement below or two squishy sofas with Cath Kidston-inspired cushions.


I spent a very happy couple of hours with son number two there this week. After a leisurely stroll through town, we found ourselves at the Vanilla Cafe. Ordering Illy coffee (for me) and a babyccino (for him), a toasted teacake (served with beautiful little glass jars of butter and jam) and a mini cupcake (decorated with buttercream and mini marshmallows), we settled down to several games of cards. It was such a lovely way to pass the morning and I didn’t need to speak in hushed tones or tell him sit still.


The previous time we’d visited, we sat outside looking at the Minster. We all had tea and each of us was given our own individual little pots of tea in different colours. The teacups are vintage and floral, just on the right side of kitsch. On that occasion we also sampled a broader selection of their cakes, which are baked on site and which send wafts of baking loveliness up the stairs and out the front door. Lemon cake, carrot cake, chocolate brownie and fruit scones. I loved them all, although my husband agreed that the fruit scones were not as good as mine (well done dear).

They also sell sandwiches and quiches, which I’ve yet to try.  The prices are reasonable-ish (cost us about £12 for two lattes, one gingerbeer, one babyccino, one toasted teacake and one mini cupcake.)

So if you’re looking for a peaceful, pretty spot to rest with a cuppa and a slice of yumminess, seek out this hidden vintage gem in the shadow of the Minster.

*This is NOT a sponsored post. The places I review, I have found on my own steam and paid for out of my own pocket.


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