Pub review: The Bankhouse, Fulneck, Leeds

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TODAY’S column takes in two villages a few miles apart, each founded in muscular Christianity centuries ago.

Fulneck is the older and was first established in 1744 when protestants from Moravia landed in England, fleeing forced Catholicisim back home. Over the years, a village and church were established along with Fulneck School which counts such luminaries as Herbert Asquith and Diana Rigg among its alumni.

The Bankhouse sits just outside the village, though teachers and the occasional stray sixth former can often be found here, sampling its secular delights.

Its stone clad frontage is rather less impressive than that of the sturdy stone built school, though they share an elevated aspect and views over the gentle Tong valley between Bradford and South Leeds. Though just a couple of miles from either city, this is splendid walking country, and on fine days there are few beer gardens anywhere where I’d rather while away an hour or two.

Stepping into the pub, you arrive at its central bar, where four handpulls are dead ahead. On this visit, Theakston’s products dominate the choice with both the sessionable Best Bitter and the more powerful Old Peculier on offer. Wychwood Gold caters for those who like something bright and zesty, Robinson’s Trooper for those who like pumpclips to depict Satanic warlords charging into battle. It’s inspired by an Iron Maiden song, apparently.

The pub’s drinking areas are all arranged around this sociable space: a broad room to the front, smaller and more intimate low-ceilinged areas behind. Traditional dining chairs have been given a fancy touch with some colourful, mismatched upholstery.

We take our pints to a table to the right of the main bar to peruse the menu and observe this busy community inn.

What becomes clear is that most of the customers are on first name terms with the staff, suggesting the Bankhouse benefits from a good regular trade, no mean feat for a pub some distance from any sizeable community. Thankfully the Moravians are not teetotal.

But I think what draws people here, apart from the beer and the genuine welcome, is the food. The Bankhouse has long had a reputation for its home cooked meals and in the interests of journalistic completeness I feel obliged to make sure these long-held standards are being maintained.

I make close acquaintance with an excellent Bentley’s Classic Meat and Potato Pie, which comes with chips and a generous splurge of minted mushy peas. Bentley’s is the local butcher and presumably so well-known in these parts that putting his name on the pie is quite a selling point, but I’m not sure who supplied the potatoes.

Meanwhile, my wife is trying to stop her Bankhouse Special Burger fromoverbalancing. Time was, in the innocent days of my youth, that a burger was a circular slab of meat presented between two halves of a burger bun and could be eaten without the aid of cutlery. Now, when the two halves of a bun are separated by meat, cheese, tomatoes, slices of bacon and outsize onion rings only someone with a mouth the size of Brian Clough’s could attempt manual engagement. Even then they would most likely spear themselves with the big wooden skewer necessary to hold these unlikely constructions together. I digress; she enjoyed it anyhow.

I’d like to thank regular reader Alan Freeman for pointing out I fluffed my lines last week. Magnet Ales were, of course, a John Smith brand, not a Tetley one, as I rather inexplicably claimed. In my defence, I had been drinking...

FACTFILE

Name: The Bankhouse

Type: A country inn between two cities

Opening times: Mon 5-11pm, Tue-Fri noon-3pm and 5-11pm, Noon-11pm Sat-Sun

Beers: Changing choice of draught ales plus Amstel, Kronenbourg, Foster’s, Guinness andStrongbow

Wine: Decent selection

Food: Good choice of meals available lunchtimes and evenings Tue-Fri, noon-9pm Sat, noon-5pm Sun

Entertainment: Occasional live music, including the Bankstock festival over the weekend of July 17-19. Charity events to raise money for Guide Dogs appeal

Children: Welcomed. Kids meals and high chairs available

Beer Garden: Large area with great views

Parking: Large area to the side

Telephone: 0113 256 4662

PIC: James Hardisty

The historic Leeds pub trumpets the ancient virtues of Tetley