Before we get going on the food, just have a squiz at the old Co-Op building that Yakumama calls home. Handsome spot. Stands out. Loads of kerb appeal.
And I’m not sure, to be honest, that it’d be possible to have anything like a bad meal within its confines. A theory that was given substance with this maiden visit to a restaurant with the simple ethos “to deliver honest, tasty, vibrant food, quality drinks and a nice place to be for Todmorden and the surrounding areas.”
I’ll have some of that, ta very much.
This bricks and mortar space is the result of a Kickstarter campaign to get the Latin American-inspired street food business under a permanent roof, a mission that was accomplished in 2019. Prior to this, I remember seeing the Yakumama stall at various street food events (remember “street food”?) but, regrettably, can’t recall ever having had the pleasure. My bad. I’ll be happy to remedy this on repeated future visits.
Especially if they’ve got the croquettes on, which I believe (and hope) are a permanent fixture in some form (£8). On this visit they came as three boulders loaded with cassava and goats cheese with a pond of smoky tomato sauce through which to dredge.
I’m familiar with the fromage and tomato element here, course I am. But, full disclosure, I am very much a novice when it comes to the cuisine on which the Yakumama menu is based. That rootsy cassava filling added some serious heft, while the batter encasing it was delicate and crisp. Balanced, I believe, is the technical term. A welcome diversion from the Iberian version I usually shovel down.
And yes, that is a notebook and biro laid out purposefully on the table. Who the frick do I think I am, I know.
Yakumama’s excellent bread (£4.50) comes from Burnley’s Zafroz bakery and – nutty, dark-crusted and open-crumbed – is tiptop. After scarfing slices of it smothered in a lustrous chive butter, more of it appeared in an uplifting Panzanella (£8.50), which was vivid on both the palette and the palate. Good greenhouse-y tomatoes given a liberal drenching of red wine vinegar and grassy oil is a classic, and Yakumama did it proud.
Semi-pissed on Pacifico beer (there are cocktails available for those that way inclined), a liberal pile of crisp-skinned Andean potatoes (£7.50) was just the job. The distinctive kalamata sauce wasn’t what I expected a sauce made of blended olives to taste like (less tapenade; silkier and more toppy), and its mauve hue was equally diverting. Another example of Yakumama’s proclivity to bang out – yes, I’ll say it – the interesting stuff.
But interesting means nowt if it doesn’t tick the tasty box too. And everything here was very much that.
There were two desserts on so we nabbed them both. A Basque cheesecake (£6) was tangy and lactic with cream cheese and just claggy enough, while a dark chocolate empanada (£6.50) was as rewarding as anything that promises melted chocolate within hot pastry will be. Its accompanying banana and coconut ice-cream will be my new taste of summer.
I suppose that this is where I mention that this vibrant, plate-popping lunch contained not one scrap of meat, as attentive readers may have clocked. But Yakumama don’t make a big thing of it so neither will I.
One more thing. Rome has its Testaccio, Barcelona its Boqueria, and I’m now adding Todmorden’s market, a short walk away from Yakumama, to that illustrious list of European food halls. Disembark at the station from your train of choice and head inside to buy some cheese, get a haircut and neck a swift pint in the Market Tavern before your reservation. Or after. Or both.