Pub review: The Halfway House, Baildon

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THERE are plenty of places called the Halfway House, though for many their original purpose as a staging post between one town and the next has been rendered obsolete by urban sprawl.

This one was originally roughly halfway between Bradford and Otley, though the city’s expansion has long since reached Shipley and Baildon while the road through Guiseley, Menston and beyond is largely built up with homes and shops and an ugly straggle of low-rise industry.

Now the Halfway House simply sits alongside the busy Otley Road, in close quarters with the housing estates of Charlestown and Tong Park and handy for customers from trendy Saltaire. It is now merely halfway between being a restaurant and a pub – and on this early Monday evening showing, it dispenses both functions with some aplomb.

It wasn’t busy, but that’s a fault which is easy to forgive during a session which is traditionally one of the quietest of the week in the pub trade. And it meant we were treated to very attentive service, as well as the good value that’s offered by their two-courses for £10.50 deal, which runs on all early weekday evenings – and until late on a Monday.

I started with a two hunks of toasted ciabatta bathed in a rich grey swamp of mushrooms, and devilishly laced with a heady dash of garlic. In the meantime, my wife was making appreciative noises about her chicken liver pate.

From here I continued my vegetarian theme by opting for the spicy beanburger, a delicious sturdy patty of kidney beans and vegetables in a breadcrumb coating and served with some skinny chips and cole slaw. Across the table my partner found herself outfaced by her two sizeable rolled chicken tikka flatbreads, served with salad – and a mound of sweet potato fries which went shamefully untouched.

In addition to the main menu, there’s a Sunday roast menu, a big choice of sandwiches and a children’s menu, while themed nights bring an extra twist to the dining here with pies on Tuesdays, steaks on Thursdays, fish on Fridays and, er, Prosecco on Saturday. I’m sure that makes some kind of sense to someone.

This being, like, October, a whole host of Christmas and New Year menus have just been unveiled too.

Which is to say nothing of the beer. The pub has three real ale handpulls and on this visit, two of them were given over to Black Sheep ales – both the standard bitter, which is also available here as a keg beer here, and their refreshing Golden Sheep. But I went instead for the harder-to-find Naylor’s Bitter from Keighley, a gently bitter, refreshing amber ale, which proved a neat counterpoint to my hearty full-flavoured menu choices.

In many out-of-town pubs where the focus is on family dining, the choice of beers isn’t always as good as this, and the very obvious attention to the needs of the drinker continued to the lager fonts, where there were five on offer. This, plus the TV and pool table in a snug to one side of the pub, shows that the Halfway House is also about providing a drinking venue for those who come for beer and conversation rather than the pies, fries and ribeyes.

The pub can cater for meetings, celebrations and office parties – and this weekend there’s a wedding fair too, if that’s your thing.

Don’t forget that Leeds’s own Oktoberfest starts this evening at the former Tetley Brewery site in south Leeds. The event will feature the tried and tested cocktail of German lager, giant sausages, oompah bands and lederhosen. The event runs through until Sunday and tickets start at just £10, with each session capable of holding up to 2,000 people – and advance booking is recommended from oktoberfestleeds.com.

FACTFILE

The Halfway House

Address: Otley Road, Baildon

Type: Pub and restaurant

Opening Hours: Noon-11pm daily

Beers: Changing range of three real ales, often including Baildon Blonde from the local brewery. Also Estrella Damm, Heineken, Carling, Coors and Carlsberg; Symonds Cider and Guinness

Wine: Good choice from £4-glass and £14.95-bottle

Food: Wide-ranging menu served noon-2.30pm and 5-9pm Mon-Thurs; noon-2.30pm and 5-9.30pm Fri; noon-9.30pm Sat; noon-8.30pm Sun

Children: Welcomed, kids meals and baby changing facilities availble

Disabled: Ramp access and disabled toilet facilities

Entertainment: TV, pool table, games machine and occasional special events

Functions: Areas are available for private hire

Beer Garden: Attractive terraced area to the side, much of it no-smoking

Parking: Large area to the side

Telephone: 01274 584 610

Website: www.thehalfwayhouseshipley.co.uk

Email: info@thehalfwayhouseshipley.co.uk

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