Perky Peacock, Lendal

A lovely flat white from the Perky Peacock, Lendal Bridge, using beans from The Perky Peacock's new roaster, Modern Standard, and sporting the new Perky Peacock logo.Back in June 2014, I made a long overdue visit to York, and, true to Coffee Spot fashion, I started with the second of the two Perky Peacocks (the one on Gillygate). It therefore struck me that I really shouldn’t leave York without visiting the original on Lendal Bridge. So, on Monday morning, on my way to the station, I called in.

Set in a medieval postern tower on the railway side of the bridge, it is perhaps the best setting for a coffee shop that I have come across in a long while. In fairness to York, though, there is another, Gatehouse Coffee, which I’ve yet to visit. This one’s set in Walmgate Bar, one of the many gates in the city walls.

Like London’s Attendant (the coffee shop inside a Victorian gents toilet), there’s always a danger that the location ends up doing the talking, in which case it becomes a gimmick. In this instance a coffee shop inside a 14th century tower is pretty cool in anyone’s book. Fortunately for those of us who like our coffee, just as with Attendant, the coffee at the Perky Peacock is every bit as outstanding as the location!

August 2015: I popped back to discovered that The Perky Peacock has switched roaster from Origin to Essex’s Modern Standard. The good news is that the coffee is as good as ever! The branding has also changed, with the old round logo being replaced by a far perkier peacock! I’ve updated the gallery with some pictures with the new branding at the end.

September 2016: The Perky Peacock is now back to being a chain of one, with Gillygate being handed on to Rae & Webb, which I hear is doing great stuff.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The North Street Postern Tower, as seen when crossing Lendal Bridge...
  • .. and seen from the other side, with the Cathedral just visible in the background.
  • Definitely looks like there's a coffee shop in there.
  • The street-level view from the previous evening, when the Perky Peacock was closed.
  • Now it's very much open! And very tempting. I think I'll pop in before I catch my train.
  • But where to sit? Here, at street level?
  • Or up there at the top of the stairs?
  • The tables as seen from the top of the stairs.
  • More of the tables.
  • This looks lovely, a little sheltered courtyard arrangement at the top of the stairs.
  • I really was tempted by a seat in the sun.
  • However, I had to go inside to order...
  • ... where I fell in love with interior.
  • The counter, as seen from the door.
  • The bulk of the seating.
  • The sofa in detail.
  • And the big table.
  • And the red table by the door. My parents used to have one just like that!
  • Nice artwork on the walls...
  • ... although JOCO Cup prefers the view from the window. I tend to agree.
  • Dodgy taste in books though!
  • So, to business. Breakfast, I think...
  • ... then something to drink.
  • There's coffee...
  • ... not coffee...
  • ... and hot things made cold.
  • And cake. There's always cake.
  • Cake in more detail.
  • Good use of the drawers in the counter!
  • Hmmm... Now, let's see. Who's the tea from again?
  • Not forgetting Joe's Tea.
  • You can also take the coffee home with you.
  • It's come all the way from Cornwall you know!
  • Although the Guest Coffee's only come from the Welsh borders.
  • The main grinder. And look, a Rancilio Rocky! I've got one of those!
  • The espresso machine is behind the counter, business end facing the customers.
  • So, to business. My flat white admires the view.
  • And here it is in more detail. Lovely cup. Lovely coffee too.
  • And finally, I leave you with my breakfast: toast!
  • I popped back in August 2015, when I discovered that the Peacock branding had changed.
  • The old round logo has been replaced with the one seen here on the cup.
  • The roaster had changed too, Perky Peacock switching to Modern Standard from Essex.
  • My flat white was excellent though. I love that the pattern holds to the bottom of the cup!
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If you don’t know it’s there, the Perky Peacock’s easily missed, tucked away almost underneath the Lendal Bridge. Even if you do about it, Google Maps isn’t much help, putting it on the other side of the river, while trying to get its address is almost impossible.

Walking from the station towards the city/cathedral, ensure you’re on the left-hand side of the road (the wall side). Just before the Lendal Bridge, look dow/to your left, and there, by the riverside, is the North Street Postern Tower, home of the Perky Peacock, which opened in late 2009.

There’s a row of four two-person tables at street level, where you’re sheltered from the traffic. However, you have to go up a steep flight of steps to get to the tower and order. At the top there’s a landing/enclosed courtyard with a pair of tables, an even better exterior option, since you’re sheltered from the passing pedestrian traffic as well. Having climbed up the stairs, you may as well sit here, unless, of course, someone got there first!

Stepping through doorway in the massive stone walls, there’s a surprisingly large interior. The Perky Peacock occupies the top of the (almost) circular tower, about a third of which is given over to the counter. This runs across the tower, effectively cutting it in two, with a decent work area behind it. The tower’s not quite circular: a small, square projection holds the door in the left-hand corner.

As you enter, there’s a red, Formica-topped, three-person table ahead of you, then, to your right, along the curve of the walls, is a large (five-person) wooden table, a glorious, deep leather sofa with coffee table and two stools and finally, a smaller three-person table next to a window seat that could take two more.

The interior’s lovely, with a (slightly uneven) stone-flagged floor, bare, dressed stone/brick walls and a conical ceiling made of wooden beams and cross-supports. Windows pierce the walls all the way around, making it a very bright space.

The counter itself is interesting, being two chests of drawers, with one of the drawers open to hold the crisps and another pressed into service to hold the sugar and sweeteners. Next comes a gap, then a chiller cabinet and a set of shelves holding coffee beans for sale. The cakes are on top of the chests of drawers, directly in front of you as you come in, while the espresso machine is behind the counter, business end facing the customers.

As with Gillygate, the main coffee, which rotates regularly, is from Origin (now Modern Standard), but there’s also a regularly-rotating guest from James’ Gourmet (a Brazilian Fazenda while I was there). At the suggestion of the chalk-board, I tried this with milk (it recommended a cappuccino, so I had a flat white) and found that it was lovely, a deep, rich flavour, with sweet after-notes. It can also be had through the Aeropress.

There’s a limited breakfast menu: toast, bagels, porridge, bacon buttie and poached eggs on toast (the last two only until 11 o’clock). For lunch, there are sandwiches and soup, supplemented by a limited but tasty-looking cake range. Since I was there for breakfast, I had (brown) toast, which was nice and crunchy, but not overdone. It came with jam in a purple espresso cup.

Monday 07:00 – 16:00 Roaster Modern Standard (espresso) + Guests (filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 16:00 Seating Tables, Sofa, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 16:00 Food Breakfast, Sandwiches, Cake, Soup
Thursday 07:00 – 16:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 16:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 16:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits 23rd June 2014, 23rd August  2015

You can also see what fellow food- and coffee-blogger, Diane, made of The Perky Peacock in her blog, A Tale of Two Sittings.

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18 thoughts on “Perky Peacock, Lendal

  1. Pingback: The Perky Peacock, Gillygate | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. There’s one presentational issue they could do with addressing. The big padlock on the door and the small white sign showing opening times make it look like the shop’s shut, even when it’s not. I’ve seen plenty of people who’ve walked up to the steps, shrugged and walked away. Unless there are people at the tables (and at this time of year there generally aren’t) then it’s an easy mistake to make.
    Does a good flat white though.

    • You could pop in and tell Nicola yourself. I’m sure she’d like to know 🙂

      Also, I suspect the stairs have something to do with it: it’s a long way up (and down first from the bridge) only to discover it’s closed, so I suspect that this puts some people off from even trying.


  3. I walk past this quite regularly with the dog when we go along the river and always contemplate stopping for a cup of tea, since it has tables outside, but I haven’t got round to it yet. But if the cake’s nice I might do it next time.

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