Pub review: Star Inn, Kirkhamgate, Wakefield

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Perhaps if you were driving along the busy road between Wakefield and Batley, you wouldn’t give a second look to this pub, which is just beside the bridge which crosses the M62.

But we have ventured this way at the behest of a reliable friend who recommended the Star for the quality of its dining. And on the strength of this Saturday night visit, her endorsement is entirely justified.

As you step inside, it has all the feel of a locals’ pub, pure and simple, as some lively chat is going on around a central bar which is topped by three real ale handpulls and a host of lager fonts. I guess they change regularly, but on this occasion two of the cask ales are the big selling Black Sheep and Sharp’s Atlantic Pale, so I head instead for the lesser-known Farmer’s Blonde from Bradfield Brewery in the lovely rolling countryside north west of Sheffield, just on the edge of the Peak District.

This anaemically pale ale, whose surprising malt character offsets some modest bitter sharpness, proves an ideal accompaniment to an evening of good quality, sensibly priced pub dining. My partner, staying firmly in character, has gone straight for the red wine. A large glass, naturally.

After a brief sojourn at the bar, we are soon shown through to a faintly charmless dining room in the rear, decorated in sombre brown and beige with tartan-style carpets and curtains. This extension doesn’t have the genuine character of the main part of the pub; its large pictures of cutlery, wine glasses and fruit reveal a lack of any real imagination about how to redress that balance.

Nonetheless, it’s fortunate that we have followed the advice on the pub’s website to book a table; as we take our seats, virtually every other table is occupied, the largest by a family who are enjoying a big birthday celebration. Kids are clearly welcome here.

The dining room looks out over an attractive patio area; beyond here is a grassed beer garden which doubtless proves a further big draw for families when the sun comes out. And whatever misgivings I might be feeling about the personality of the place are soon blown away by some quality pub food.

For a starter we have chosen to share Mediteranean platter (£12), a black slate which is attractively arranged with marinated olives, feta and sundried tomatoes, cured meats, salami and red peppers stuffed with spicy rice. This mouthwatering combination has been draped with rocket and comes with sizeable wedges of oily focaccia, studded with chunks of olive and sundried tomato.

The standards which have been set by this shares starter are maintained by the main courses.

I’ve gone for the smoked haddock (£14), which is three sizeable slabs of the moist, yielding, big-tasting fish, with boiled whole potatoes, mange tout, al dente baby sweetcorn and a creamy mornay sauce. The whole arrangement is topped with a poached egg, which oozes runny yolk to dramatic visual and olfactory effect.

My partner has turned to the specials blackboard for her succulent chicken breast (£16), which served in a deep red tangy chasseur sauce with a mound of mash, mushrooms and vegetables.

The portions are so generous here that it seems barely worth giving the dessert menu even a cursory glance. But instead two rich and strong coffees round off a splendid evening of food and drink which came in at a shade over £55. There might only be one star on the pub sign, but on value alone, this was a five star experience.

Factfile

Batley Road, Kirkhamgate, WF2 0RZ

Type: For drinkers and diners alike

Opening hours: Noon-11pm Tues-Sat and noon-10.30pm Sun. Closed Mondays except bank holidays.

Beers: Three handpulled real ales plus good choice of lagers

Wine: Excellent selection from £4.60-glass and £18-bottle

Food: High quality pub meals served lunchtimes and evenings, Tuesday to Sunday

Entertainment: Live music Saturday and Sunday afternoons, with TV sports coverage during the World Cup

Beer Garden: Patio areas to the front and rear - plus enclosed grassed area to the rear

Disabled: Straightforward access

Children: Welcomed

Parking: Large area to the side

Telephone: 01924 362638

Website: www.starinnkirkhamgate.co.uk

Email: starinnkirkhamgate@gmail.com