I think it's partly underdog syndrome. If ever there was a perpetual underdog, it's Hull. It's one of those much maligned places that only ever appears in the national media for negative reasons, flooding and a failing education system being two particular examples that spring to mind from over the years.
But there's plenty to like about Hull. It has a spacious and in parts attractive city centre, a pleasant marina, interesting history, good museums, an excellent theatre, and the people are nice too, friendly and unpretentious. I was pondering this as I wandered the streets, and thinking that the down to earth attitude was also part of the city's problem. Laid back and unassuming, but also a bit behind the times and lacking in innovation.
And then I stumbled upon a pop-up café, as if straight from the streets of Shoreditch, and realised my theorising was probably a load of old cobblers. The whole set-up was the epitome of urban cool in 2011. Decrepit former commercial/industrial building: check. Vintage/charity shop mismatched furniture and crockery: check. Funky name: check. Tea and home-made cakes: check. Obviously the people of Hull have their fingers very much on the pulse, and I'm an idiot.
Anyhow, the cakes looked good, and there were tables free outside in the sun, so I decided to stop off for afternoon tea. A colossal pot of tea and a fat slice of coffee and walnut cake really hit the spot. The cake was fresh and moist, and had what I think were caramelised walnuts in it, which was a nice touch.
Of course this being Hull the blokes serving were characteristically friendly and down to earth, and the prices were cheap. £2 for the tea (which would have served at least 3) and £1.80 for the cake. The area around the café was interesting too, right by the marina and the Humber riverfront on a street full of half-abandoned looking warehouses. I spotted at least a couple of little art galleries in addition to the café, it brought to mind a sort of fledgling, maritime version of the Northern Quarter in Manchester.
Did I eat anything else worth shouting about when I was in Hull? Not really, I certainly wouldn't describe it as a foodie destination but it's well worth a visit for a day out.
And finally if you've got half an hour to spare before the the train home the bar at the Hull Truck Theatre is just up the road from the station and has some decent bottled beers and good olives.
Hull. Go on try it, it's great.
8/10 for Thieving Harry's, and the same for Hull in general!
73 Humber Street