“AND what colour bread would you like?” says the waiter who is taking our order at the Holmfield.
Sorry, it’s been a really long day,” he admits, before confessing that the Holmfield actually only offers the standard range of brown, white and granary, rather than anything more excitingly psychedelic.
To be fair, this rather strange question was the single missed beat during an evening of great beer and good value dining in this rather splendid country house on the south-western fringes of Wakefield city centre.
The building itself is almost 200 years old, and was built for wealthy Victorian lawyer Thomas Foljambe, whose grand house and private parkland passed through a number of hands before coming into the ownership of the local authority on National Peace Day in July 1919. In an era when councils are painfully and shamefully underfunded it’s hard to conceive of an authority making so magnificent a purchase – and perhaps inevitably the property is now given over to commercial use.
Yet to spend time here now, you get a genuine sense of how the other half lived, way back before the spread of the city enveloped this parkland into suburbia.
The pub and restaurant is operated by Greene King, and works hand-in-glove with the budget hotel next door. And though this company’s pubs don’t always win rave reviews, here their conversion has been beautiful, sensitive and tasteful, the standards of fare and service entirely fitting of these historic surroundings.
From busy Denby Dale Road you drive steeply upwards into the wooded parkland, before Mr Foljambe’s grandiose mansion reveals itself between the trees. Stepping inside, you arrive at the corner of the bar. Turn right, and you are in a dedicated drinking area, turn left and you have a choice of spaces in which to eat. And though this is primarily a dining house, it’s clear that drinkers are also welcomed. The bar itself is well populated on my visit, with customers doubtless drawn by the real ales and the friendly, slightly luxurious surroundings.
We are shown to a table with comfortable leather-upholstered dining chairs in what is evidently an extension, where sturdy sandstone once on the outside now forms an internal wall, the old doorway fringed with heavy pale green drapes. Light floods in through tall south-facing windows with attractive parkland views; French windows open onto a patio, beer garden and children’s play area. The decor is an attractive blend of white and pale greens, with a feature made of the moulded coving which frames the high ceilings.
It’s easy to see why the Holmfield is a popular venue for weddings, with the space outside for marquees and some attractive backdrops for some stunning photography.
This being Greene King, two of the company’s flagship products, the IPA and Old Speckled Hen, each have a prominent place on the bar, but I opt instead for the guest beer, the crisp, citric and refreshing Silver King from nearby Ossett Brewery. This proves an ideal foil for some quality dining where the standards seem undiluted by the value offered on the “two courses for a tenner” menu.
I start with the rich, thick tomato soup with chunky croutons and wholemeal (rather than blue) bread, while my partner does battle with a mound of chicken wings, presented with a spicy chilli and pineapple sauce. Next up for me is the hunter’s chicken, a juicy breast topped with bacon, cheese and barbecue sauce, while my wife makes short work of the fish and chips.
Maybe there are no cordon bleu prizes heading this way, but for hearty, sensibly-priced dining, you can’t fault the Holmfield one bit.
Address: Denby Dale Road, Wakefield
Type: Suburban dining pub
Opening Hours: 9am-11pm Sun-Thurs, 10am-11pm Sat-Sun
Beers: Handpulled Greene King IPA and Old Speckled Hen plus one guest beer. Also Foster’s, Carling and Stel;la Artois lagers, Guinness and John Smith Smooth
Wine: Good selection
Food: Food is served every day 10pm with lunch and cut-price menus supplement the main”Eating Inn” menu.
Children: Very welcome. Children’s menu and high chiars available, with an outdoor play area to the rear.
Disabled: Straightforward access and disabled toilets
Entertainment: TV in the bar, plus free WiFi throughout
Functions: Areas are available for hire, including for weddings and meetings
Accommodation: Large Premier Inn hotel is next door
Beer Garden: Large grassed area
Parking: Large car parking areas on the approach from the main road
Telephone: 01924 231730