THIS pub-writing game isn’t all beer and skittles you know. Well, not skittles anyhow.
And sometimes it is great to visit a pub merely for the pleasure of being there, or to meet friends, or to enjoy a drink and read the paper or watch the match. The kind of thing that you folk are lucky enough to be able to do all the time, without the troublesome nonsense of having to remember it afterwards, let alone write about it.
No matter – here’s a round-up of six great pubs which I visited in 2015 and never wrote a word about. You could make it a New Year’s Resolution to visit them all.
Let’s start at the Hermit in Burley Woodhead. A steep ascent from Burley-in-Wharfedale brings you to this slightly remote village of stone houses and picturesque views. And while a true hermit would dine alone on berries and the occasional snared rabbit; a more pragmatic type would head into the warmth and good company of this great village inn, with its low beamed ceilings, classic beers and sturdy home cooking.
A recent meal here visited some proper Yorkshire staples – black pudding, steak and kidney pie, Wensleydale cheese, all washed down with Timothy Taylor Landlord, which despite all the wonderful new beers which have come to market over the past 20 years or so, remains surely the quintessential Yorkshire pint. Fabulous.
Next up is the Bridge Inn in Low Lane, which is slightly detached from the strip of bars and restaurants in the centre of Horsforth, yet continues to thrive by doing the simple things well – quality hand-pulled ales, the friendly atmosphere you’d expect of a popular community local and reliable pub meals.
Even so, it still has the capacity to surprise – its comprehensive burger menu gives diners the chance to try crocodile, zebra and more, if that’s your thing.
There’s a whole host of Devonshires clustered around Wharfedale, and Christmas afforded my first opportunity to try out the one at Grassington. This lovely stone-fronted pub sits at the top of the village’s attractive cobbled square and is a warren of quaintly-shaped rooms with beams and low ceilings and comfortable bedrooms upstairs. Recently restored, it serves quality food, as well as a great range of hand-pulled ales, including most of the Timothy Taylor range.
The White Swan’s pub days are long gone; though you can still come here for a drink, the Rothwell venue’s growing reputation as Salute, a quality Italian restaurant pulls in diners from miles around.
While this isn’t traditional Taverner territory, the sheer drama of the seafood kebabs – two skewers loaded with king prawns, monkfish, tomatoes and peppers battling for space atop a mound of herb and pea risotto is worth the diversion alone.
Chapel Allerton’s perennial favourite the Regent played host to a small reunion of Selby Times journalists just before Christmas. We all left the market town at least 25 years ago, but hand-pulled Leeds Pale and Tetley Bitter brought all the old stories flooding back. How we laughed. A recent re-fit has really smartened up the look of the Regent, though the familiar shape with its time-honoured divide between two quite separate bars, remains.
Finally, I chanced upon Sid’s Little Egg, close to Leeds Bridge, just before Christmas.
Roughly equidistant between two fine old pubs, the Old Red Lion and the Adelphi, this could easily be mistaken for a greasy spoon cafe, but once inside you can treat yourself to a fabulous choice of great craft ales, some sturdy Caribbean-themed sandwiches and a game or two of pool. What’s not to like?
SIX PUBS FOR 2016
Address: The Hermit, Moor Road, Burley Woodhead, LS29 7AS
Telephone: 01943 863204
Address: Bridge Inn, Low Lane, Horsforth, LS18 4HN
Telephone: 0113 2587339
Address: The Devonshire, Main Street, Grassington, BD23 5AD
Telephone: 01756 752525
SALUTE AT THE WHITES SWAN
Address: Salute at the White Swan, Church Street, Rothwell LS26 0QL
Telephone: 0113 2820508
Address: The Regent, Regent Street, Chapel Allerton, LS7 4PE
Telephone: 0113 2939395
SID’S LITTLE EGG
Address: Sid’s Little Egg, Bridge End, Leeds
Telephone: 07880 893542