Places to eat

Here are some reviews of restaurants and other places to eat that have been visited recently. I hope they are useful!

Tea among the trees!

Sylva café at Oakwood, Leeds is something of a statement building – a very striking design, but it looks at home nestled among the trees and close by the restored Oakwood Clock.

Sylva café, Oakwood, Leeds
Sylva café, Oakwood, Leeds

The clock used to be in Leeds Market, but was moved here in 1912 and after a campaign by local traders the restored clock was unveiled in 2015. The whole area was revamped, including flower beds and a community vegetable garden and a farmers’ market is held once a month.

The café is wheelchair accessible – there’s a bit of a steep little slope then a sharp bend to keep you on the plank slope up to the door, but nothing too bad. The staff were helpful – they had cleared away a chair so I could sit at the table and we had tea and rather good cake – all their cakes are gluten free and they all looked scrumptious. The tea could have been a bit stronger but I’m told the coffee was very good!

The carpark outside gets very busy – we felt lucky to get a space – there is at least one Blue Badge space and there is more parking at the nearby supermarket although that would mean negotiating a steepish slope.

The café was quite full and therefore quite noisy as there isn’t anything soft to absorb sound but in fine weather you could sit outside. You can see their menus on the website, sandwiches, salads etc and in the evening, the upstairs is a bar.

I would go again – it’s definitely a good addition to the area.

Great access and great staff. Food, not so much!

I generally like to support independent restaurants, so we were going to go to Mamma Mia’s but the slight step at the doorway looked like it might be a bit of an effort for my powerchair, plus, you have to pull up on the pavement outside, which isn’t ideal. We decided we’d give Bill’s a go instead as we’d had a couple of recommendations.

Bill's York
Bill’s York

Pete did a reccy beforehand and the staff were very helpful, showed him the accessible loo, (very spacious, plenty of grabrails) and told him it would be no problem to pop the chair somewhere out the way while we ate – they even said they had recharged someone’s chair recently!

Pulling up outside is no problem then you could leave your car there if you have a blue badge as it’s OK to park on yellow lines if you aren’t blocking anything, otherwise, you could do what we did and park on Lendal.

There are some booths but most of the tables are movable (some are up a step but plenty are level access – and properly level it is too – no bumpy threshold!) with good solid tables and easily moved chairs. They suggested we left the chair by the main door, so we disconnected the power – it was races weekend, didn’t want to take any chances! The décor is funky, the piped music quite loud, and as I said, the staff are great – really helpful with chairs and so on. I don’t know if they have had training but they were very aware of accessibility issues.

The food is OK but not brilliant – we had a meze between us all as a starter then four different mains and some puds so a reasonable range and while there was nothing wrong with any of it, you would expect better for the price. We’ve paid those prices in many a gastropub, for example, and got a much better meal. They did a very good decaff to finish up with – actually they brought it before the desserts – perhaps we should have specified but you would kind of expect it to come after or at least at the same time!

I had seen a comment on tripadvisor saying that the optional 10% service charge did not go to the staff, so we thought we might leave it separately but when we asked the waitress who had looked after us, she said the tips were divided between the staff.

In all, I’m glad we tried Bill’s and may go again but will continue to check out other accessible restaurants. As ever, the overall impression you get is a mixture of various aspects – the food is just one of them – and the overall impression was good.

Check out our other reviews of accessible restaurants.


Great Italian restaurant!

We’ve been going to Mama Mia’s on Gillygate for years and it’s always good – food freshly made, staff friendly, buzzy atmosphere – we’ve even been treated to late-night liqueurs on occasion! In some restaurants it’s difficult to find something you want on the menu, here it’s difficult to choose because they all sound good – pizza, pasta, meat and fish dishes and the specials nearly always include fabulous fresh mussels!

Now then, access. On our latest visit, we got the cab to pull up right outside but even though we had booked a table near the door it was still a bit of a struggle, so after our meal my partner left the rest of us to chat while he popped home for my scooter as I realised the step at the entrance was only an inch or so high. I don’t think I could have scootered in although a wheelchair would be fine (and the loo is accessible and the furniture all moveable) but scooting out was fine – so easy that I practically ran into our car! All fine in the end! Have a look on Streetview if you don’t know Gillygate. You have to pull up outside – there is no parking, so you need to plan a bit.

For the more agile, there is a lovely patio garden out the back next to the city walls.

I definitely recommend this friendly, accessible restaurant.


Mid-range restaurant, central York

The Lime House, Goodramgate, York, is an independent restaurant which has been around a long while, so I thought they must be pretty good and whenever we’ve been past, it always looks cosy, so we decided to give it a go and we weren’t disappointed!

Without being top-notch gourmet, the food is very good, in fact my main course of black bream with seafood ravioli was absolutely gorgeous. The staff were pleasant, friendly and helpful and although the room was a bit chilly to start with it soon warmed up as more people arrived and the atmosphere was relaxed. I was a bit surprised that they don’t provide bread, even with my partner’s pâté starter – you have to order it as an extra, but other than that, the servings were generous and we didn’t have room for desert but enjoyed a decaff filter coffee to finish.

Access is reasonable – a small doorsill at the entrance would probably have been too much for my scooter but would be OK in a wheelchair I expect and there was room to manoeuvre inside. There is no downstairs loo so you wouldn’t want to make too long an evening of it! You can park on the double yellow lines outside if you have a blue badge and while we couldn’t book a specific table, they guaranteed us one in the front part of the restaurant so no table would be more than about five yards from the door.

I can definitely imagine going back.


George Hotel, West Bay, Bridport, Dorset (by mrsmeh)

In August 2015 we went for lunch at the George Hotel, West Bay to celebrate my father-in-law Tim’s 100th birthday. The pub is a short, level walk from his care home, very useful when negotiating a route with a wheelchair. There is (public) parking right outside if needed, including two wider, but not marked disabled, spaces. There is a shallow ramp up to the side entrance and we went through the public bar into the restaurant, a level and very accessible route, with sufficient space between tables. However, the pub was not busy, as it was 12.30 on Wednesday lunchtime on a dull and windy day. It may not have been so easy if the public bar had been full.

The restaurant also had plenty of space between the tables, and we were not the only party there with a wheelchair user. The staff were very accommodating and let us choose our preferred table when we pre-booked. The menu was comprehensive with the usual pub fare (lots of chips) and a good range of ‘specials’ on the board. We ordered a child sized portion for Tim senior and this was dealt with efficiently by the wait staff. The food was good, fresh, nicely cooked and presented and Tim was very happy with it. The restaurant had filled up by the time we left, but there were no problems getting the wheelchair out again. I believe there is a disabled toilet with no steps but I can’t report on this because no-one of our party used it.

Middlethorpe Hall, York

We recently had a team ‘away day’ event here in the Barlow room. The website describes it as having access ramps and disabled facilities, but doesn’t mention the gutter which you need to negotiate before you reach the ramp! I was nervous of scooting over the gutter (my scooter is not really designed for rough terrain!) and got off and had colleagues move the scooter over it the first time but braved it after that and it was OK just rather a jolt. I’m not sure how users of self-propelled wheelchairs would find it. The carpark is at some distance but there is no problem about being dropped at the door. Once inside, it is a lovely venue, very well-appointed and with one of the poshest accessible loos ever!

We had lunch in the main house, which despite being a historic house, had a ramp up to the entrance to avoid the steps, although there was another gutter to negotiate, then staff had placed ramps over two short flights of stairs – rather steep but manageable and the staff were very helpful. Scooting around indoors was fine but the lavatories are on the floor below and although there is a lift, a staff member felt my scooter would not fit in. So, it was back to the Barlow room before we had a guided tour of the lovely gardens – flagstones and gravel paths and short grass with just one step which might be avoidable if you went a different route.

It was a lovely experience – lunch was fabulous! – but I’m not sure I would recommend this place if you were looking for a truly accessible venue.


The Parsonage Hotel, Escrick near York

We were invited here for Sunday lunch with family friends and overall the experience was great: private dining room, good company, relaxed atmosphere and pleasant staff. The setting is wonderful, especially on a sunny day with autumn colours everywhere and the gardens looked lovely. The food however was nothing special: I had a starter of prawns in a Marie Rose sauce straight out of a bottle, the roast pork main course was good without being great and the lemon tart dessert was somewhat stodgy; house wine was fine, coffee was good.

The Parsonage, Escrick
The Parsonage, Escrick

I couldn’t find anything on the website about access, so I rang to ask and was told that there is a side entrance which is accessible but we just needed to check with reception when we arrived that it was open. Getting round to the side entrance was no problem, and it felt like a proper garden entrance rather than just some random back door, but the threshold had rather a high lip to get over which gave quite a jolt. Inside had ramps and an accessible toilet and although getting into the bar was a little exact, it was manageable and the other rooms were perfectly spacious. Leaving at the end was problematic as the high threshold had a slight slope on the incoming side but none on the outgoing, so my scooter could not have coped with it and we had to lift it over. Presumably wheelchairs cope with it OK given that the place is geared for them generally.

On the whole, I like the way they have incorporated ramps without spoiling the character of the building and the staff were excellent at being welcoming and helpful but I would not rush back as the food was not something to go out of your way for.


Cedar Court Grand Hotel and Spa

Had a meal here for a recent birthday. The meal was very good without being totally fabulous but what made the occasion memorable was the staff. Nobody batted an eyelid at my turning up on a mobility scooter. This is how it should be but so often isn’t the case. They also brought us a glass of champagne and there was a candle in my desert!

The practicalities are that there is a doorman (at least there was when we first turned up – we had to go back to the house as part of my scooter had fallen off!) to help and a lift (one of those rising platform types) to get you up the few steps in the entrance then it was all on the level. They mentioned where the toilets were (down in a different lift) then showed us to the restaurant, all very helpful and friendly. top marks for attitude!


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