While I do note places I'd like to eat or drink on trip, I do not plan around it. I'm not a gourmand and there are places I'd rather see than the inside of restaurants and things I'd rather do than wait all evening for a table. We usually play it all by ear. That said, sometimes a place demands to be visited. The House of Trembling Madness is such a place. The name alone intrigued me as I researched travel in York. A visit to their website sealed the deal. We must make it to the House of Trembling Madness, I thought. And so we did.
The House of Trembling Madness is a medieval drinking hall tucked into the first Norman house to be built in York at 48 Stonegate. The back of the structure dates to 1180 and the exposed beams of the House once sailed the salty seas as ship beams before it was built. Now, it continues its historic legacy by providing us with one of our oldest pastimes: drinking.
Worn wooden furniture fills the hall (which, I admit, is smaller than I imagined a hall to be). Exposed stone walls feature an ancient fireplace. Aged animal heads are mounted on the timber framed walls: boar, badger, duck, dog, pig. Deer, goat, fox, rabbit. Kangaroo? The bust of a Victorian lion roars silently above the bar. Even a human skull sulks in a corner and dares you to turn down a pint here.
Trembling Madness is named for delirium tremens - the shakiness one might encounter during alcohol withdrawals. You surely won't encounter that here, though, as there are ales and spirits a plenty. We tried Aspall Cider, Westmalle Tripel, Hofbrau, and some local, fruity ale that I cannot recall. The House offers a small menu of bar snacks as well as heartier plates. We had a chorizo stew and a Mad Burger, which both hit the spot on a cold, rainy York day.
Although we were quite obviously tourists (taking photos will blow your cover), most of the folks that were enjoying a pint were locals. No one minded us Midwesterners. In fact, we had great conversations with a few locals. We chatted nearly an hour about war and history, the victors and the vanquished, Guy Fawkes, America, Native Americans, and beer. The food and ales were great but I think the conversations might be the best thing served in the House of Trembling Madness.