Review: House of Trembling Madness, York

House of Trembling Madness

House of Trembling Madness

Not really a proper dining review, as will become clear, but everyone who visits York ought to be aware of this iconic hidden gem.

House of Trembling Madness? It’s an homage to “delirium tremens” or “DTs” – the shakes you get if you’ve really done yourself some serious over-drinking. And you could easily do that downstairs here, in an absolute cavern of beery goodness. I’ve never seen such a well-stocked beer shop, and I’ve seen a few! There’s a nice collection of spirits in the basement too (woooOOOOooo!), but the fun part is upstairs.

Upstairs is the “pub” although I think their own description – “medieval drinking hall” – is far more accurate. It certainly looks the part, with a wood-beamed ceiling and old timber crucks forming the walls at either end, an entire wall covered in the trophy heads of an eclectic collection of beasts from antelope to canada goose, and a dense maze of small wooden tables surrounded by high-backed chairs that you imagine a skald might sit at to sing a song of legendary battles. The only thing missing are rushes strewn on the floor.

This being York, the history is real. Those walls and the ship beams holding them up are over 800 years old. Medieval literally as well as thematically.

As you’d expect, the beers on tap are all eclectic and from small breweries. Mine was a “ganache stout” which was sweet and richly delicious. They have a good selection of food suitable for a beery evening, from pies and burgers to snacks and sharing platters. And in a very civilised manner they serve food at all times, believing (as their website says) that making sure drink can always be partnered by food is the best way to chip away at the sh*tty drinking culture in this country.



Except we showed up for some dinner (and a beer) at 10:20pm on an evening when they had been so busy that they had literally sold every hot thing. And at 10:20pm this really was the only alternative to McDonalds. The barman couldn’t have been more thoughtful, though, putting together a sharing plate and piling extra bits on to make sure we’d not go hungry. Some of the bits were jolly good too: chilli pickled eggs that made me growl like a viking and tiny toe-sized salami sausages with a manic juniper flavour.

The layout is thoughtful too, by the by. They’ve packed every inch with tables and chairs, so this is a pub where there really isn’t any standing room. They’ve optimised for a buzzing and convivial atmosphere, rather than an elbow-to-elbow scrum of beer-swiggers around the bar. Good for them! Long live the House of Trembling Madness!

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