I’ve written about this family run restaurant a few times down the years – Simon and Janet Baker have been at the helm since 1995. But it’s been a while. And you know that thing where you’re a bit reluctant to go back? Can it be as good as it used to be?
Turns out I was fretting needlessly. They’ve moved with the times, and not only has the fabric of the place had a magical re-vamp, the menu’s bang up to date without being overtly fashionable.
So, the décor. Janet’s eye for vintage-meets-modern is keen, and her rummaging has been rewarded with a number of show-stoppers, including a giant snowflake light which she somehow found in a warehouse in Blackpool – yep, an abandoned illumination. Leaning against the dark purple wall in the decadent leather and velvet-sofa-ed lounge upstairs it looks stunning. But you want to know about the food.
There’s a pan-European sensibility at play here; peach, air-dried ham, mozzarella and wild rocket with salted almonds and a minted honey mustard dressing battles in the starter stakes with Cornish crab, crushed minted broad beans, crème fraiche and lovage with celery salt crostini and beetroot relish. The latter won, and what a triumph! Three little mounds of delight and a crunchy crostini to scoop them up, the flavours light but clever.
It’s joyously rustic food and what we all try to copy in our kitchens when we come back from somewhere hot, and what The River Café and Moro do brilliantly. Well, so do Gimbals. Lamb kleftico is slow cooked leg of lamb in paper with garlic, lemon, thyme and redcurrant jelly, accompanied by chickpea puree and hot mint sauce. It’s not the prettiest plateful, but any aesthetic concerns dissipate as the charred paper’s torn open and memories of a long-distant Greek holiday flood back. The meltingly tender chunks of lamb have a perfect partner in the puree, which has an extraordinary texture and an ingredient I can’t quite fathom. The answer comes back from the kitchen; saffron. I wouldn’t have thought of that. But then if I could cook like chef Mark Ferrier, I’d be running restaurants not writing about them.
They’re currently running a sensible midweek deal; 16 quid for two courses, 19 for three. Truly great food without busting the budget.
76 Wharf Street, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX6 2AFTel 01422 839329
Review by Mandy, 20 November 2011blog comments powered by Disqus