Inside York’s newest bar – a modern revival of a golden era

17 Mar 2015 @ 7.50 pm
| Food & drink

York has a brand new bar.

But if you’re expecting something remorselessly modern, you’ll be surprised. Sutlers Bar & Kitchen harks back to an era of chivalry and all round good manners.

Sutlers Bar & Kitchen, 54-56 Fossgate, York

Sun-Thurs 8am-11pm; Fri-Sat 8am-midnight

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The bar, found on the corner of Pavement, is housed in the old Army & Navy Store. And that was partly the inspiration behind its Edwardian ambience, owner Richard Beal told YorkMix.

“We wanted to open something that was slightly different,” he said. “It’s pitched at the inter-war period.

“It harks back to days of yore, when things were nicer and everyone was more polite and had more manners.”

Good old-fashioned service will be key to the success of Sutlers, Richard believes. Customers won’t be rushed and the staff of 15 – likely to soon grow to 20 – are trained in putting people at their ease.

Oh, and a sutler is a US term dating from the American civil war, meaning a merchant who follows an army and sells provisions to the soldiers.

The interior

Turning the somewhat run-down Army & Navy store into a top-notch bar has taken two years and a lot of investment.

Re-roofed, re-wired and with underfloor heating, the building is back to its glory days. The end next to the Blue Bell pub is older and Grade II listed, while the Pavement end is an extension from the Edwardian era.

Planning restrictions meant that the interior rooms on the first floor have been retained. So each has been styled in a new and unique way.

We took a particular fancy to the room with the wing back chairs which has a whiff of a club in the days of empire.

The food

The bar is open from 8am and serves proper coffee made by trained baristas using its Italian coffee machine. And look out for some tasty cakes.

In keeping with Sutlers inter-war theme, the menu has a few unique features.

You can order a Ration Pack which you can fill with the likes of bread and dripping, spam fritters or Welsh rarebit, at £3 each.

There’s also Leftover Stew (£13), which Richard promises is actually made fresh from the finest ingredients, and features beef and vegetables in bubble and squeak style.

From the Sutlers menu

Officers mess

8oz sirloin steak – £19
Rump of Nidderdale Lamb – £17
Spiced vegetable tagine – £13

British comfort food

Fish n chips – £11
Corned beef hash – £12
Gammon steak – £12


Treacle sponge – £5
Baked rice pudding – £5
Jam roly poly – £5

The drink

The main bar has a long run of cask beers, including Camden, Birra Moretti from Italy and Orchard Pig cider. There are more than 50 bottled beers to choose from, and a healthy wine menu too.

A pint of session beer or lager will typically cost £3.50, Richard said.

Upstairs is the cocktail bar where trained mixologists will make bespoke drinks, with a large range of unusual gins to choose from.

Now the waiting and planning is over and the bar is ready to open, Richard can’t wait.

He remembers buying his Doc Martens from the old Army & Navy store and now he’s responsible for opening a new chapter on what he describes as “fantastic Fossgate”.

If it does get pedestrianised by the council, that would enhance the street even more.

It would create that continental culture where people can sit out, have a coffee or a quiet beer – it would be absolutely amazing for the street.