Halifax is having a moment. After almost four years of renovation the historic Grade I* listed Piece Hall has thrown wide its magnificent carved wooden doors. For decades it’s been underused and crumbling; photos from the 1980s show it on its knees.
Tucked into a corner is Elder, a small but light-filled cafe/bar/bistro run by Justin Thomas, a clever chap who in a previous life headed up menu development for Friends of Ham, so he knows a thing or two about putting good ingredients together; as well as cheese and charcuterie boards (with the likes of Dorset coppa, Suffolk chorizo and truffle-infused lardo) Thomas magics up braised beef brisket, ham pease pudding and roasted cauliflower with a spiky lemon and tarragon dressing – pleasingly rustic and simply presented plates of food.
A blackboard flags up a handful of ‘when they’ve gone, they’ve gone’ specials – the lamb fat mash was a contender for dish of the year, so simple, just as it sounds, and completely brilliant. I raved about it in the YP and several chums went down just to have it and of course it had disappeared, but the outcry has prompted Thomas to put it back on. Go for lunch and if it’s a good day sit outside on the terrace and imagine youself on an Italian palazzo – seriously, it doesn’t feel like Halifax. Pop in just for a coffee and cake too – I can vouch for the treacle tart, particularly if it’s coupled with the Northern Bloc Madagascan Bourbon Vanilla icecream.