Newest Review: ... the toilets and a lounge - however, at the moment the lounge is closed off to the public, but I believe it can be hired out. Evil Eye is a... more
Evil Eye, heavenly food and drinks
Evil Eye Lounge (York)
Member Name: low_rider
Evil Eye Lounge (York)
Date: 29/11/09, updated on 29/11/09 (1123 review reads)
Advantages: Cool place, great drinks and amazing food
Disadvantages: Can get very busy, at peak times service is slow
York is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK, and no wonder: not only is it a beautiful medieval city with much surviving architecture (the Minster is a notable example, and the Shambles, an entire street of medieval houses, in one of the most photographed areas in England), but it also has a vibrant shopping district, a number of tourist destinations, a huge amount of street life and a number of fantastic bars and restaurants.
Evil Eye is, in my opinion, one of the best places in York. Located on Stonegate in the centre of town (another very popular street with tourists), it doesn't look like that much from the outside. This is partly because the foyer entrance is a liquer and tobacconists. As a result, Evil Eye is incredibly popular with the locals, but not so well known among the tourist population, as they assume that it is a shop, not a bar and restaurant.
Evil Eye is spread across three floors. On the ground floor, you have the bar and a number of tables. There is also an outdoor heated courtyard, which since the smoking ban came into effect is the refuge of all you smokey joes out there - a bit of a shame, as it means that in the summer when the weather is nice you can't sit outside without getting smoked on. On the first floor you have two separate rooms; on the left as you come up the stairs you have the "bed room", which has two beautiful carved wooden double beds covered in cushions on either wall, and a few tables at the end of the room. The beds are incredibly popular in the evening, and you will either see huge groups of students huddling up on them or a couple snuggling up together. The room on the right is an internet cafe, with a number of computers available for browsing the web for the reasonable price of £1 per half hour. On the second floor are the kitchens, the toilets and a lounge - however, at the moment the lounge is closed off to the public, but I believe it can be hired out.
Evil Eye is a cocktail bar, so behind the bar is a huge shelf holding every kind of alcohol imaginable. Just looking at it can lead to brain-cell suicide. There is a comprehensive cocktail menu containing a huge range, from shooters to martinis to long drinks, all reasonably priced. Prices range from £2 for the shooters to £6 for the most expensive cocktails. A nice touch is that most drinks have two different price tariffs, one for using "house liquers" (i.e., cheaper ones), and a more expensive price for a cocktail made with "premium liquers" for those who prefer the finer things in life.
They famously had a drink banned: it was called the Hellshot, consisting of a shot of 89% Balkans vodka and 90% absinthe mixed up together. You had to sign a waiver before you could drink it, promising not to sue in the event of going blind and promising to clean up if you threw up. However, the council informed them that they would not renew their licence if they continued to serve it. Don't worry - you can still buy each ingredient individually!
Evil Eye also has a great beer selection, from locally brewed beers from the York brewery to world beers such as Cusquena, a Chilean beer brewed at 10,000 feet in the Andes. They do not serve cheap, shoddy, mass produced lagers such as Fosters and Carling, and anyone who asks for one is met with a frosty stare by the barmen and is informed, "we don't sell bad beers". Don't be afraid, though - the bar staff are incredibly friendly and knowledgable, and will have a crack at making any drink you ask them for. There is also a great, if small, wine list, including some real gems. There is an English wine which is lovely, a range of French and new world wines and also some Thai wines. Thailand is not a traditional wine making area, lying outside the traditional lines of latitude for wine production, but the Monsoon range are real gems - fruity, spicy and easy to drink.
Although they nominally sell Thai food, the cuisine is actually a broad range from across Asia, including the Phillipines, Cambodia, Vietnam and Tibet. Evil Eye say that they import fresh foods and spices from Asia weekly, and you can really tell: the food is fantastic, really well prepared. Portions are huge, and reasonably priced. A main course typically costs around £6 to £7, with side orders such as rice and chips around the £2 mark.
There is a range of delicious salads, made with fresh herbs and veg; incredible soups (such as the Vietnamese Cau Lau, where pork is simmered with cinnamon, star anise and other spices and served in a huge bowl with noodles and broth), fantastic stir fries (the Pad Thai is incredible; one of the most fragant versions of this classic Thai noodle stir fry I have ever found) and excellent curries, ranging in spiceyness from mild to very hot. The green and red Thai curries are lovely, and a particular favourite is the Mussaman curry, which is out of this world. There is a really good burger for the less adventurous, and as the dishes are made from scratch you can order most of them as vegetarian options, and if you aren't too fond of really hot foods you can ask them to keep the spice down.
On Sunday they serve the famous Evil Roast, where you get a massive roast dinner with a choice of meats or nut roast. They start serving at 12, and finish at 6 - however, it is so popular they often run out long before then!
As food is cooked fresh, the one downside is that sometimes food can take a long time to appear. Normally you get it within 20 minutes, but I have had to wait up to an hour before, especially at lunchtime, where there is often a rush of orders. Check with the bar staff first if you are in a hurry. Service is from 12-9 Monday to Thursday, and 12-7 Friday and Saturday.
Besides food and cocktails, they also do a range of smoothies using fresh fruit and milkshakes. There is a wide range of coffees and hot chocolates, too. One of my wife's favourite is called the candy swamp, which is a hot chocolate with minstrels and malteasers added. The minstrels sink to the bottom, where they melt but remain solid inside the sugar shell, and the malteasers floats and go soggy and gooey. They give you a spoon to eat it. I am not allowed to speak to her while she finishes it; instead, I must wait, in silence, whilst she communes with the chocolate gods. Coffees and hot chocolates are around the £1.50 to £2.50 mark - very reasonable, especially when you consider it would cost a lot more than that at Starbucks for an inferior drink!
The different rooms of Evil Eye can be hired out for free for parties, and you can even hire out the whole place for events. For extra cost, they can lay on a buffet for you, and in the summer, you can organise a barbecue there. However, in typical Evil Eye style, this is no ordinary barbecue, as the meats on offer tend to be zebra, crocodile and ostrich.
Evil Eye is a fantastic place, and my favourite restaurant in York. I have been going there for over three years, and have never been disappointed. I had my first date with my wife there, and we also ate there with some family the night before our wedding. If you do visit York, Evil Eye is an essential experience. It is also Johnny Depp's favourite place in York, so you have the Deppster's guarantee of approval.
Opening hours for the coolest place in York are from 10am to late (although you are unlikely to get in until after 11pm). It is very popular with students, so bare that in mind, but if you want a great night out, I can't think of a better place
Summary: Best place in York
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