Pub review: The Three Houses Inn, Sandal

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One of the joys of doing eating out reviews is that it makes you visit places you might otherwise never see.

Take the Three Houses Inn on the Barnsley Road at Sandal near Wakefield. Now this is an established pub. It’s been here for 300 years and is, no doubt, famous in its locality.

But whenever I’ve eaten in these parts we’ve been nearer Newmillerdam but on this occasion we were closer to Sandal Castle, another local landmark which I’ve never been to.

It turns out this pub has some history of its own. A blue plaque from the Wakefield Civic Society tells how a latter-day Robin Hood figure John Nevison was reputedly arrested inside the Three Houses prior to his conviction and execution at York in 1685.

It looks like a pretty old building on the outside but inside it seems to be two different establishments - a proper pub where drinkers go and a food pub with gastropub pretensions.

Did it live up to this image? Well, I have to say yes. It was pretty impressive. We started off with a pint of Black Sheep (£3.50) and a large Ponte pinto grigio (£5.90) before we settled down to examine the menu.

It was early evening on a Saturday and it was reasonably quiet. We decided to start with a couple of shared dishes off the nibbles menu.

Chorizo bites (£4) were good. They were jasper roasted and served in garlic and chilli oil. And we had crispy chilli chicken (£5) which was deep-fried, shredded and chilli-infused chicken. Very tasty indeed and plentiful.

For the main course, my wife chose mushroom, broccoli and stilton pasta (£10) which was topped with rocket leaves and served with garlic ciabatta.

It was plentiful and well presented by the two chatty and charming waitresses.

I had a hanging skewer, which was as dramatic as it sounded. A contraption dangled a skewer of your choice over the plate. In my case it was lemongrass and ginger chicken (£12) with peppers and onion, served with pitta bread, crisp house salad and a choice of sauce – I chose lemon mayonnaise.

Another round of drinks took the bill to £49.80, which wasn’t bad for a memorable meal.

We could have burgers, dishes from the Sandal Grill or ‘classics’ such as chicken and mushroom pie, lasagne or beef and ale stew.

Puddings caught our eye, too. Strawberry and white chocolate cheesecake was interesting (£6) together with traditional dishes such as apple tart and raspberry coulis.

It was all very pleasant and we followed it up by having a walk around the nearby ruins of Sandal Castle, which dates back to the 12th century.

Name: Three Houses Inn, Sandal, Wakefield

Score: 4/5