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Harkers, York

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user reviews of Harkers, York

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

This large Nicholson’s pub situated in St Helens Square opposite the famous Betty’s Tea rooms was packed to the rafters during my Easter Sunday visit.

8 hand pumps with 8 ales on, 4 from Yorkshire with the other 4 from around the UK, my choice of Ilkley Brewery Mary Jane @ 3.5% was a new beer for me. Busy at the bar with the 4 bar staff coping admirably well.

I don’t need to explain what this pub used to be as other reviewers have mentioned it below but it’s a lovely building with high vaulted ceilings & chandeliers.

The downstairs toilets were a bit pokey and smelly but this is probably down to the pub being so busy & possibly not having enough staff on to cope with the amount of drinkers and diners.

My first visit here, there’s better pubs in York, but the building is lovely and the ale choice is extensive…worth a visit any way especially if it’s raining like it was on my visit.

lezford - 22 Apr 2016 10:46
A lovely looking pub there is something missing.... its hard to explain... the beer was OK, but there was an issue with atmosphere..... a large chain pub the really annoying thing is once again the toilets are down stairs which seems to be a modern thing. It was busy when we visited..... I would say it does no harm to call in but there are far better real ale pubs in town....
Enigma35 - 10 Dec 2012 19:57
Occupying a prominent position on the corner of St Helens Square in the pedestrianised City Centre, Harkers is an impressive looking Georgian building that was previously occupied by Yorkshire Insurance Company, whose name and the date 1824 ( in Roman numerals ) can be seen high up on the exterior of the building.

The split level interior features high ceilings, Corinthian columns and pillars and the look and ambience of a drawing room. The walls have framed pictures of former company directors and chairmen. It's a Nicholson's pub and is one of their branded "Classic Pubs". The pub has a rather stylish grandeur to it and is evidently popular with ladies who lunch. This led to a rather upmarket ambience on my visit.

There's 6 handpumps which, on my recent June visit, were serving Castle Rock HPA, Bombardier, John Smiths Cask Ale and Yorkshire Terrier. Notably, a blackboard behind the bar urged drinkers to "try Yorkshire Terrier - brewed only a mile away - for 2.20p ". I went for the Castle Rock HPA which was in good form, but rather more expensive at 2.90p.

I quite liked the pub, but the beer range was disappointing by Nicholson's standards and this won't be one of my first ports of calls next time I'm in York
JohnBonser - 14 Jul 2010 08:31
Very nice pub, with food and ales at the standard you'd expect from part of the Classic Pubs chain. The varman who served us was very knowledgable, and the place seemed to have a nice enough atmosphere.
adamross - 22 Mar 2010 08:39
I really enjoyed this restaurant. Me and my boyfriend decided to eat there for Valentines night. The restaurant wasn't packed and we didn't have to wait for a table which was excellent. The woman who served me behind the bar was lovely and was happy to serve me and was chatty and friendly as was the woman who brought the food out. Excellent customer service and the food was beautiful. For a starter, two mains and two pints of Carling the bill was 21.20 which I think is an amazing price for high quality food!
Thank you Harkers!
jk_jamieson - 16 Feb 2010 01:23
Interesting Gentlemens club type establishment with some pretty good ales for the men and a strawberry beer for the ladies or gays ( hello Graeme ). Friendly staff one of whom resembles a cheeky potato.
alur - 2 Feb 2010 12:37
Went to this pub Sunday 11th october for lunch. Waited 45 mins for food to arrive and it was cold. Manager was very apologetic and a refund was given for one of the meals but I would not go there again.
maxi5 - 14 Oct 2009 11:33
Thanks to the bar staff who helped us find some missing letters to our alcohol a to z! We had a good night thanks to you guys! Also thanks to the lady behind the bar who let us borrow her lighter! In really liked this place!
danbal23 - 2 Aug 2009 19:56
Thanks GH.
Your knowledge of wine is really quite superb, however your recommendations came a little late as our get-together was on the 30th of december.
I think Michael Schumacher (a late guest) would have approved of your choice of german wine for dessert. We opted for a 20 year old vintage port recommended by the sunday times which didnt exactly blend well.
After this point the evening went rather downhill with that awful Lembit Opik trying to gatecrash the party.

Anyway thanks once again. I must get in touch before our summer bash.
anonymous - 4 Jan 2009 10:49
Well ape, for the starter I would offer the refined pallate of Lloyd either the 'Coup de poing dans le visage' (Tesco Express 42.99) or the equally startling 'Coup de pied dans l'aine' (Aldi - 29.47) as either would complement the goats cheese superbly. For the main only one thing could possibly work with the richness of the butter sauce and that is a cheeky spanish number 'Golpe en el estmago con un club de golf' from Seve Ballesteros vinyard (M&S Shoreditch - 35.99). The sweetness and spices of the pears would need a cracking desert wine, and I can think of none better than the German 'Besorgen Sie sich die Ges' (Dick & Bobs World of Austro-Hungarian Wines, Nuneaton - (12.75 35cl), and this is one I know Joanna would appreciate.
Groinhammer - 2 Jan 2009 13:35
We will be having distinguished guests over at our home during the holiday period, including Lloyd Grossman and Joanna Lumley.
Our evening meal comprises of Goats Cheese Terrine for starters followed by Fillet of Brill poached in butter, with Poached Pears in Mulled Wine for dessert.
Could anyone recommend a good wine to go with this combination. We are anxious to please our guests.
anonymous - 20 Dec 2008 01:15
Leone123- your comments have fallen far from the mark yet again. The dismissive nature of my summary was in response to your wholly unconstructive and sweeping comments bridled to a defamatory opinion of those in the north. I suspect a case of the Mrs Buckets.
As I was born and raised in the south of England, where I still reside, your assumption on my heritage is as far removed as your pairing of Merlot with Cod. If you read my summary again you will see that I made no comment regarding ".. that white wine should be drunk with fish and red wine with meat". A Merlot may be more suited to a stronger flavoured fish, such as Turbot, but in the case of battered cod, chips, and mushy peas something a little more acidic to cut through the grease of the batter and chips, and the richness of the peas would be kinder on the palette and the fish. Sauvignon Blanc fits the bill a grassy Sancerre perhaps, or a gooseberry dominant New Zealand or Chilean bottle would do the trick. As you hold the rather lacklustre and mass produced Fetzer Coldwater Creek they serve up on draught in wetherspoons to such high esteem, perhaps you have already consigned your taste buds to hell. A light summer ale or a crisp cider would be more appropriate than any wine, but then what must be a life threatening allergy prevents you from the beer option. Are you allergic to cider or perry as well?
As for ...grape is important but what the wineries do with it is even more so, this does nothing more than show your own ignorance, as the truth is quite the reverse. I dont have the time or the inclination to explain the concept of terroir, but will simplify with the old chestnut that you cant make a silk purse out of a sows ear.
He didn't mention the all-important poorly condition of the Ladies' loos. - If that is your chief concern regarding my criticism, then you have rather missed the point.

Groinhammer - 17 Dec 2008 18:14
The response to my review from Groinhammer was strange, and from someone who thinks that white wine should be drunk with fish and red wine with meat; that old cherry went out many moons ago. He didn't mention the all-important poorly condition of the Ladies' loos. Does this person, and I assume that he is a Northern chap with little or no knowledge or taste for wine, but that's OK because I cannot drink beer, have an axe to grind? Perhaps a more positive and helpful response from this person with a chip on his shoulder would have been more useful.
Leone123 - 30 Sep 2008 21:38
Leone123 - To summarise your review:

Pub staff/landlords in the North don't understand wine.
There is not a decent bottle of white wine to be found in York.
Pubs should provide the same choice and quality of wine you can get in a supermarket.
You like the Merlot sold in Wetherspoons.
Three wines cover all taste ranges up to 'extra heavy'(sic).
You are 64 years old and think Merlot goes with battered cod and mushy peas.

Groinhammer - 17 Sep 2008 13:03
Harkers was very similar to Wetherspoons, but with acceptable, low musak, and a better ambiance. The best battered cod I have ever had, and my first mushy peas in 64 years, but the chips were soggy and flaccid. My husband was very happy with his real ale, but the red wines were dire. The friendly staff let me taste several, but they were all sharp and heavy, and very similar. Why don't pubs supply a range of wines from light through to extra heavy - three would cover all tastes? Even the white wine in York was very limited, with the ubiquitous, and to me undrinkable, Chardonney, Sauvignon and Liebframilch only available; and as for Stowells' wines, even in the supermarket they are horrible. I was told gleefully at Harkers that they had a 'Merlot', and told them that the grape is important but what the wineries do with it is even more so; the Merlot was not a nice one! The problem is that many pub staff know nothing about wine, particularly inthe North. The ladies' loos were pretty bad, and several of the locks didn't work. I reported this, and would be interested to know if anything is done. I found that the only decent red wine in York was available at Wetherspoon's, and I do like their Merlot, although there was a vast range of well-kept real ales available throughout the city, so I am sorry that I can't drink anything other than wine. If the supermarkets can provide a range of very drinkable and reasonably-priced wines, why can't the pubs do likewise?
Leone123 - 15 Sep 2008 11:24
Was a very posh, trendy place to be seen when it opened a few years ago but now looks scruffy and in need of a facelift. Loud and clattery tiled/wooden floor, expensive drinks, no smoking facilities (just outside the premises).
Spritzer - 11 Jun 2008 17:40
Even in the afternoon of a hot summers day in July this place still feels cold. No atmosphere in here even on a busy saturday night and the bottled beers are warm. nil points.
daveleetravis - 8 Nov 2005 21:07
Classy from the outside, cheaper beer on the inside. It looks well posh but the beer is so much cheaper in here than other pubs round about. A quiet pub where me and my friends normally start our night out.
anonymous - 8 Oct 2005 19:22
Nice bar / pub, near the city centre. Housed in an old bank building this bar has a very pleasant exterior, and it is great to sit outside on the rare occasions when they pub out their few tables and chairs. Inside it is large, with quite alot of seating, a pool table, and pretty good, if standard bar offers. The crowd tends to be 30+ aged drinkers most evenings and I haven't visited on a Saturday night as it is especially busy. During the day it can be a bit empty and lacking atmosphere. Overall, not too bad, good place to call in, but not a favourite.
alistair_cross - 31 May 2005 13:57

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