How time flies.
Baron Bistro in Horsforth has been open for just over a year, having taken over the building previously occupied by the Cafe Marinetti, which had to be one of the longest-running restaurants in Horsforth, having opened in 1999. I say ‘one of’ and the qualification is necessary because just around the corner there’s a curry house, Moghul, which has been there since 1987.
Horsforth Town Street never fails to please when it comes to eating and drinking out. It has a quaint, welcoming atmosphere, its stone-built houses are steeped in history. Baron Bistro should be a shoe in.
It’s opposite La Casita and has a plumb spot at the bottom of Town Street, with a nice flagged courtyard with enough space for a few tables, which no doubt becomes sought after in summer.
It’s only when you step inside you realise what lengths they have gone to to make it distinct from the previous occupant.
The bar, which was on the left, is now front and centre, made from polished pine, inset with rustic-style bricks and attended by four red suede-covered high-backed stools.
Beyond them, the place has been opened right up, thanks to a clever use of wall seating.
A touch of green here, a TV displaying a log fire/log fire burning in a snowbound cabin (presumably this changes with the season) there, racks of wine incorporated into the decor and the gleam of glasses all do their bit to make you gawp in wide-eyed wonder at the transformation.
Service is a little slow to start. It’s a fair few minutes after we’re seated that someone appears to take a drink order - a bottle of Pinquillo, a zesty, feisty sauvignon blanc from Chile (£16.95), plus some diet cokes (£2.40 each) - even though we’re the only ones in.
Now onto the food
To start there was bread and olives (£4.95) and some of the best meatballs we’ve had in ages - keenly priced at £5.95, they’re not overly seasoned but have a deep, rich, generous flavour.
There was some halloumi (£6.50), in the form of some solid-looking deep-fried miniature railway sleepers, served alongside a salad and a piece of crusty bread, which was unnecessary in my view. The cheese, though, is downright outstanding. One more: bruschetta (£5.25), which was underwhelming, the bread nowhere near toasted enough, ending up a bit soggy.
It’s at this point something occurs to me, because given what they’ve done to the place inside (it’s not just a zhuzhing it up, it’s had a complete redesign), the plate decor looks like something from the 80s.
More dishes than not have been decorated with an energetic zig-zag of balsamic glaze, which for some reason reminds me of 80s shoulderpads (in that it’s a throwback).
Mains were sirloin steak (£15.95) with peppercorn sauce, plus as miniature decorative metal chip pan basket of chips (£2.95). The steak was good, although it was well done as opposed to medium (which I asked for) but the sauce was good, with a nice subtle, spicy heat.
My partner went for pizza primavera (£9.95), which was good, although she reported the chicken was a bit bland.
We also ordered a mixed salad (£3.50), two lots of chips at £2.95 each. One thing: the vinegar was a little weak, couldn’t taste it.
Service picked up as the night went on, helped by a number of waiting staff who arrived pretty much all at the same time but even then it was a tad disjointed. That said, all the staff were really helpful and kind.
Room for dessert?
Desserts came in the form of New York style cheesecake and raspberry cheesecake (£4.50 apiece), both of which passed muster, although it was 80s shoulderpads time again, except with chocolate sauce instead of balsamic. Still, it didn’t stop us cleaning our plates and on final reflection, desserts were really quite outstanding.
How much was the bill? Was it value for money?
The final bill for food was £69.90 and with drinks (£7.20 on cola, £16.95 for a bottle of Pinquillo) £94.05, all decent
In summary, it’s good to see the building hasn’t remained vacant for too long and Baron Bistro certainly seems like it means business, especially if you view the interior makeover as a statement of intent.
There’s a decent chef at work in the kitchen, judging by the dishes, although some still need finessing. By the time we left, the place was fairly busy.
Prices are very reasonable and it is a place I’d return to for a nice, cosy family meal out.
Address: 9-11 Town St, Horsforth, Leeds, LS18 5LJ
Telephone: 0113 217 2464
Opening hours: Wednesday & Thursday 6pm – 8pm. Friday & Saturday lunch: 12pm – 1:30pm. Friday & Saturday dinner 6:30pm – 8:30pm. Sunday: 12pm – 3pm