January round-up

Yes, it might be one month and six days since the event, and yes, I know that nobody wants to talk about Christmas in the dark days of late January. But still, if I replicate last year’s output you’ll hear nowt from me until May, so here we are. Have some 2022 content.

(I suppose pedants could and will argue that this being a meal that took place on Christmas Eve just makes it very late 2021 content, but still. Let’s crack on.)

This isn’t a review as such, there are plenty of words about the Shibden Mill Inn elsewhere within these pages. What it is, I hope, is a spot of reassurance for those who have always considered eating out on one of those Big Yuletide Events (Eve, Day, Boxing, New Year’s) but may be worried that it’s one big skank.

I mean, it might be at the place you’re thinking of visiting next year, but it isn’t here, where forty-five quid nabbed us three courses and a Christmas cracker. It also meant that we bagged our annual turkey hit without having to undertake the annoying task of cooking it or buying a jar of cranberry sauce that nobody really wants. Money well spent, surely, for that alone.

We weren’t, on this occasion, there to coo over Will Webster’s cooking but what we ate was of a level you’d expect from a boozer that’s once again found its place on the Top 50 Gastropubs list – a list that’s worth a look if you’re on the hunt for elevated, modern “pub” food in what are usually attractive, tucked-away locations. Open fires and pricey fish and chips are often guaranteed.

(The excellent Freemasons at Wiswell came in at Number 5, one place behind the Angel at Hetton, a visit to which is imminent.)

Back at the Shibden Mill Inn, a mega-plate of the usual Christmas suspects (turkey excellent, gravy generous) was bookended with some good chicken liver pate and a rich mound of Christmas pudding. It was generous to the point of being unfinishable, and took three pints of Guinness afterwards to regain some equilibrium. Same again next year, I reckon. Have some pictures.

There’s also been a maiden visit to Tharavadu, the much-loved Keralan place on Mill Hill in Leeds. Other than an excellent fish soup that was full of tangy depth my official rating was, however, a reluctant ‘steady away’.

In a meat thali (£22.90) a couple of the curries – slightly tough, slightly dry – were indistinguishable from each other. I’d keep it vegetarian next time (£21.45) where each mini bowlful was unique from the next.

It didn’t help that the time at the table felt hasty. Dessert landed before anyone had finished the thalis, and the bill came – unrequested, spoon still in hand – soon after that. Over a couple of post-tea beers at Bundobust, next-door, I watched on enviously as folk got busy with the hallowed vada pavs and okra fries.

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