Beyond old favourite Mamma Mia – a gaff, incidentally, that seems to up its game on a monthly basis (recent refurb, wood-fired oven, regional specialities) – I reckon you still, unfortunately, need to push out of Bradford’s centre should you want to fill your face at another ‘proper’ restaurant in and around the city.
Contentious? I don’t think so. These days you can drink yourself daft in some top-notch bars where good things are rustled up to go with a beer or 7 – quality charcuterie at the Record Café; pie or pizza from The Sparrow; spicy stuff from The Peacock – and, of course, we know our way around a curry here – but I’m not sure there’s anywhere you can pull up a pew of an evening and enjoy a couple of hours that doesn’t come under the umbrellas of ‘pub-grub’, ‘chain-food’, or ‘pimped up takeaway’.
I’m a sucker for the been-there-forever cafes dotted around the markets, and hear nowt but good things about the Thai place at the back there, but I’m thinking of food-led joints such as Ricci’s Place in Halifax or Chester’s Joseph Benjamin. A wine list. A splash of creativity. A passionate and knowledgeable team running the whole shebang.
There are good people doing good things in these parts, and changes are gradually coming. But, as a glutton, a restaurant or two would be nice.
Which is how I came to be refreshing myself over a couple of snifters at The Fox, conveniently situated next to Shipley train station, where I’d landed following the 10 minute dawdle in from Bradford.
The Waterside’s been on my radar for yonks, and I finally decided to see if I could get the kind of scran I’ve been on the hunt for without needing to go the full Leeds Return Please at the ticket office.
Let’s cut to it. The restaurant shares a building with a gym just off a very busy road, and is neither hither or thither to look at from the outside. But that’s hardly the end of the world, and once you negotiate your way down the stairs you’ll find yourself in a pleasant spot. With that canal view, the whitewashed walls and 3 pints inside me I scribble down ‘fisherman’s cottage’. I’m not entirely sure what I mean but you get my drift.
Not sure why we’ve gone all French on the menu headings – this is Shipley, not the land of Brothers Roux – but beyond the ‘Plats Principaux’ et al it’s an inviting read: quail kiev; mushroom raviolo; things done to duck. I like the concise canon; it suggests they’d rather get a handful of things right than rely on a deep freeze and microwave to appease Uncle Dave’s fondness for fishcakes everywhere he goes.
I land the scallops (£8) which are perfectly – i.e. barely – cooked and come with a well-balanced curried parsnip puree that carries just the right amount of punch without knacking the subtle scallop. Shards of parsnip bring a bit of snappy texture.
A ‘duo of pork’ (guys) consists of belly, which hits all the anticipated unctuous/melty notes, and – as tippytop – a butter roasted fillet whose deep flavour tastes of good breeding and wise sourcing (£15). Mustard mash has been whipped and beaten like a bad’un and sits somewhere between school-dinner comforting and high-end inhalable.
I arrived as a sole scoffer but by now the place is rammed; the one guy out front and two in the kitchen are getting, as they say, a tonking. But all’s well; lively but laid back.
A jogger drifts past. I order cheese.
It’s been kept properly and oozes its way off the board. Amen.
I’m an optimist and as such keep telling myself that some shrewd bods are going to realise that the people of Bradford need feeding. But until then, The Waterside will become my go-to for the good stuff.
PS: If you have any other BD suggestions, I’m all ears and appetite.
Me on twitter.
The Waterside’s website.