Inside York’s amazing new pub: Beer, pizza and epic views of the Minster

Transformed… the ground floor of the Market Cat. Photographs: Richard McDougall

If you love food, drink or York then Christmas has just come early.

York’s amazing new pub, The Market Cat, is about to open – and it’s a bit special.

Found on the corner of Shambles Market, the three-storey venue gives stunning views over the stalls, the back of Shambles and across to York Minster.


Thornbridge & Co – the joint venture between York pub group Pivovar and Peak District brewer Thornbridge – has lavished £600,000 on the Jubbergate venue.

And the view inside the pub is almost as good as the vista outside. The interior is a thing of beauty.

It is due to open this evening (Friday December 14) – go and judge for yourself.

This is the view of York Minster from the top floor of the Market Cat

Traditional city boozer

Jamie Hawksworth, the MD of Pivovar – which runs Pivni, the York Tap and Pavement Vaults – gave YorkMix a guided tour of The Market Cat.

The ground floor is lined with mahogany panels around a large central bar, complete with two reclining cats on the beer font.

It has a huge sofa against one of the large windows, booths with leather seats along the main market side – and a snug right at the back.

First orders, please

A reflection of changing times

They don’t do “concepts” he said. “The traditional city centre boozer with mahogany panels is timeless. Why try and create a ‘concept’ when we have it already in our culture?

“We want it to be like it’s always been there.” He added:

  • With this building, it leads you through on a tour of York.

    Fifty per cent of our elevation is York – the market and the Minster. So we didn’t want to do something that’s too garish or detracted from those views.

    We’ve put in as much window space as possible to use it as a platform for seeing the city.

The first bar line-up

Something grand for the ground floor

Beer and food

The barrel stave wall on the stairwell looks terrific and leads you to the first floor kitchen-diner.

Light and airy, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, it offers great people-watching views over the market.

A glass balustrade is going to be added to allow the windows to be opened in summer.

Here you can sit and watch the world go by – or see the chef slaving over his pizza oven in the corner kitchen.

The barrel stave wall

A magical view over the market

Light and airy… the first floor

The idiosyncratic look on the first floor

York is blessed with great restaurants, said Jamie. So he didn’t want to compete on fine dining.

“We’re amazing at pizzas, we’re amazing at beer. And the two go together incredibly well.”

He describes them as “extremely high-end, Milanese style pizzas”. These use a beer dough with yeast from the Thornbridge beer.

And the beer? Eight cask ales and 14 keg beers are available. For the opening Thornbridge’s Jaipur and Lord Marples were among the selection on the handpulls.

“The wines are really important to us now,” Jamie added, saying they had “grown up” as a company and work very closely with their wine merchant to create a high quality selection.

The first floor pizza kitchen

Inside the cellar

Rose Window vista

When you reach the second floor, you are greeted with views into the cellar complete with metal casks lined up on two rows.

“You should be able to see everything, including how the beer’s kept,” Jamie says.

“Few people see the technology behind the beer.”

And you have one of the most magnificent views in York – across the rooftops to the Rose Window of York Minster.

One of the top floor booths
Booths separated by glass panels line the windows for your viewing pleasure. Jamie said:

  • It reminds me of the tale of the king in his castle looking at the pauper on the street. Who’s got the best view?

    This is the ugliest building in this vicinity and everybody has to unfortunately sit looking at us.

    Whereas we can sit here looking back at that.

Even the toilets have been designed with care. They are joined by a communal corridor covered by CCTV to keep everyone feeling safe.

So where did the name, The Minster’s Cat, come from?

The working title of the bar was The Minister’s Cat – named after a Victorian parlour game.

Jamie loved the name The Market Porter. But that was trademarked – so the two merged and The Market Cat was born.

A great spot for people watching
The entrance to the Market Cat
The cats on the bar
Follow the arrows to more enjoyment
The toilets have a shared corridor
‘The traditional city centre boozer with mahogany panels is timeless’
Plenty of dining room on the first floor
Lots of nice touches
Light and airy: the first floor
A quirky corner
A view to the cellar on the top floor
Each floor has a different feel
The Thornbridge & Co sign on the barrel stave