A quick look back at the limited amount of #content that I’ve put out this year shows that, thanks again to a certain global pandemic, I didn’t get properly stuck in ‘til May, nearly halfway through the year.
That first piece, covering some of the best food-based-boozers with bedrooms across the north, stemmed from the prolonged absence in life of my two favourite places – The Pub and The Restaurant.
So it was nice to be taken away, soon after, to The Black Bull at Sedbergh. Here’s a proper pub, full of locals and hikers, with open fires and cask beer, that also happens to do top-notch food. The Black Bull has rightly received plenty of kissy kissy attention from the national press but my review, which you can read here, is of course loads better.
On a summer trip to Manchester we took refuge at Tast where the tapas was decent, but was surpassed by the hustle and the bustle and the general damn-fineness of Brindisa’s Spanish stuff down in London. A visit that was long, long overdue but, of course, worth the wait.
In addition to a few more bits for Leeds Confidential, a return trip to Brook’s in Brighouse happily coincided with the publication that very morning of their glowing review in the Observer. With good reason, this was a jolly brunch service all round.
If I pull my finger out I might get some words up about a stay at the Cavendish Hotel in Baslow, a swanky spot on the Chatsworth House estate that’s recently found itself listed in the Top 50 boutique hotels in the UK. It’s a handsome place, with a kitchen that’s clearly gunning for a Michelin star. Good luck to ‘em.
Lunch at Coin, newly opened in Hebden Bridge, ensures that this year’s business of eating out concludes on a high. In this bare-bricked and big windowed space we first knock back a plate of choux chips – think delicate and dainty savoury madeleines but full of fromage flavour – that bring to mind that school dinner classic the cheese pie, but in bite-size form (£6.50). More refined here, of course, but still.
There are mushroom croquettes, which could be spongy and grease-laden but at Coin are crisp and airy little numbers (£5.50). A verdant salsa verde, packed with punchy mint and other herbs of goodness, is a two-fingered salute to the dreich greyness outside. Flog this gear in bottles and sign me up for a lifetime supply.
A potato fondue is described as being part spud, part loads-of-tasty-dairy; a coming together that could never be a bad thing (£8.50). We dunk our toast and kid ourselves that this is a healthy and hearty soup, fortifying us for the showery journey home, rather than an indulgent bowl of cheese and buttery gloop. Albeit a classy gloop that’s been expertly put together. We convince ourselves so enthusiastically that extra toast is required.
There’s also a plate of Very Good Meat – my title not theirs – featuring those cuts that have an appealing whiff of the farmyard or field about them, and delivered with a brief backstory of who did what to the beast (£13.95). A coarse wedge of Pate de Campagne, made in house, is well deserving of its place on the piggy platter.
You could just call in to Coin for a brief pitstop, necking a plate or two with a couple of drinks from an inviting menu (we flatten a brace of beers, a bottle of crisp Riesling and, to delay our exit, excellent glasses of a crunchy Brouilly) before being on your merry way. There are no reservations – you can just scoot in.
But I’ll be doing the opposite of that on my return visit. A long lunch job, I reckon. Clocking the lot, dish by dish.