I’ve eaten well this year.
There were a couple of return trips to the Moorcock in Norland, that much-admired, idiosyncratic pub-restaurant that, as I type, will be into its final period of trading before the doors close and the owners move on to pastures new. It doesn’t feel fair that Yorkshire will soon be deprived of such a brilliant spot.
There were visits to other pubs, too, where the Angel at Hetton and the Pack Horse at Hayfield caught my attention for different reasons. The former for its transformation (in both food and fit-out) from countryside boozer to sleek and shiny modernist gastro-hub; the latter for its simple but supremely effective take on pub classics. I enjoyed both but you can’t get chips at the Angel so I’m plumping for the Pack Horse if pushed.
I didn’t know that plates of chicken and pitta could be as good as they were at Firehouse over in Manchester. It’s massive, and slightly bonkers, but it all works and I’m a bit annoyed that I haven’t been back for more of the same. The Jane Eyre ensured another trip across the Pennines was a success, while Yakumama – a bit closer to home – had me kicking myself that this was only my first visit.
I managed two trips to the buzzy Engine in Sowerby Bridge but didn’t get around to writing about it. Lazy, I know. I’m going again this week for the slow roasted aubergine amongst, I imagine, much more, and with December tables booked at the Shibden Mill Inn, and Coin, it’s looking like a happy end to the year.
If I can squeeze in another visit to Il Pirata Pizzata too, that’d be grand. The menu is concise, the toilet is neon, and the pizzas are the best I’ve had all year.
I didn’t mean for this to be one of those pieces about my favourite restaurants of the year, but that’s what it accidentally seems to have become. Bear with me then while I reminisce fondly on that overnighter at The Forestside in Grasmere. Yes it’s a bit fancy, but not in that try-hard way that some spendy places end up being. At the end of that meal I’d have happily started it all again.
Not so with the Cut and Craft, unfortunately. (See, we got there in the end.) It’s a new place in Leeds that wasn’t particularly good or particularly bad, just noisy and a bit silly.
See you in 2023.