What’s in a Name? Everything.
When I heard Fancy Hank’s recommend as a place we needed to try in York, I had heard enough. Only someone extremely confident in their product would go with a name as oxymoronic as “Fancy Hank’s”… but just in case, I checked the menu.
I was both delighted and skeptical to find a British restaurant attempting an offering inspired by the American south. BBQ is a religion in the southern US, and is not something to be taken lightly.
Upon our arrival, we were welcomed by Biggie Smalls on the radio and soulful murals and decor throughout. So far, so good!
We were seated and greeted by someone who we weren’t convinced even worked there from his attire. Callum was his name, and he seemed genuinely glad we were there despite having a busy restaurant to service.
He offered enough explanation to get us going and was bang on with every recommendation throughout the night. Were he not at work, we likely would have insisted he join us and bought him a beer; he was that kind of a guy, and Fancy Hank’s felt like that kind of a place. I can use a lot of words to describe the vibe, but the most accurate would be simply this: “comfort.”
Everything was made with comfort in mind. Fancy Hank’s was not fancy at all, but nor was it dingy. The service, the food, the art, the music, everything was masterfully aligned to make you feel just so at ease.
So they had the Southern Hospitality part dialed in, but it would all be for naught if the food disappointed.
We ordered two starters; the buttermilk fried shrimp and the bourbon glazed belly pork. I paired my meal with a peanut butter chocolate IPA from Nashville, which may sound strange but worked very well.
I’m still not sure what wizardry the chefs have going on back in the kitchen, but how they managed to achieve the texture and flavor of those shrimps is something I will never understand. The glazed pork was also excellent, a 10 out of 10, but the buttermilk shrimp had broken some laws of physics.
Now we were excited. We added a side of mac and cheese as no southern cooked meal is complete without it. It arrived with our mains: the chicken and waffles for my classy lady, and the Slow Braised Short Rib for me… my eyes went wide as I saw the generous portion and perfectly cooked meat.
I lifted the rib and watched the meat roll off of it like velvet BBQ. I was able to cut my first bit without a knife and needed a moment to collect myself after trying it… literal perfection.
Sophie prepared her first bite of chicken and waffle, a dish she was a bit apprehensive about ordering as this American delicacy is not always well-received across the pond. She chewed momentarily before her eyes rolled to the back of her head. I though she was going to eat the plate.
In our 5 days exploring all the best things to do in York, we tried everything from the most upscale to the most basic, and Fancy Hank’s was far and away the best dining experience in the city… in every way. The service was friendlier, the feeling was warm and comfortable, and the food was unforgettable. In fact, this is easily the best meal I have had in England, rivaling even the best BBQ I have had exploring the American South.
What Fancy Hank’s has managed to pull off in York needs to be celebrated and replicated. Personally, I feel like it is only a matter of time before others discover the same love affair for American southern cuisine and the demand has them taking reservations weeks out.
My hat is off and my belt is loosed after a meal I will not soon forget.
Written by Adam Marland from; 'We Dream Of Travel' a site dedicated to providing travel guides and inspiration through powerful imagery.