FOR a quiet pub, the Black Horse Inn sure has star appeal.
It may be in the peaceful backwaters of a pretty village but it has had more than its fair share of international celebrities passing through its grand 17th Century doors. Cilla Black has been here, so as Danny La Rue and Joe Brown. Whether his Bruvvers also stayed isn’t known but Showaddywaddy did stay. Plus, Roy Orbison who liked it so much he staged his second honeymoon there. In fact, La Rue – as much a star off stage as he was on – dined here wearing a vivid pink gown.
The Black Horse Inn owes its star appeal to the fact its location in Clifton near Brighouse is close to the M62 and near enough for stars performing at Batley Variety Club in its hey day to stay. The Variety Club – later the Frontier – may be no more but the Black Horse Inn is going stronger than ever thanks to its emphasis on quality. It isn’t the cheapest place to dine but my goodness, you get full value.
We dined off the fixed priced menu: a two-course dinner for two plus drinks for under £50. Well, you can pay more than that for somewhere ordinary.
Now the Black Horse Inn has been serving good food and drinks from Clifton – now known as Clifton Village just to hammer home the rural aspect – since the 17th Century. A group of cottages alongside have been converted into bedrooms to make it a 22-room hotel, too. In fact, while waiting an age between courses, we worked out staying here would make for a charming overnight break without smashing the bank.
OK, so service was, shall we say, far from rushed but it was worth the wait. And what’s the rush with Sunday lunch? Surely it’s meant to be savoured rather than rushed.
Now, you can pay top dollar for your food here but we cautiously used the fixed menu to good effect. Pay more if you wish but we found the offerings here to be less limited than we would have expected.
For £19.95, we didn’t think we could go wrong for two courses – or £24.95 if you can manage three courses. We settled for two.
Now, we went for main and a dessert, rather than starters which I think was a wise choice given the quality of the puddings.
So, we missed out on the sticky ham hock, chicken liver parfait, Thai fish cakes and smoked salmon mousse and, what sounds to me to be the star of the starters, the fig and beetroot tart tatin.
Never mind, the main courses sound incredible. Hickory smoked pork collar, sirloin steak (a £7 premium) and beer-battered Whitby haddock or masala cod all appealed but we settled on what may sound routine choices.
My wife had a traditional Sunday roast (lamb, but she could have had chicken or beef). I say beef, but the menu puts it rather more poetically as 31-day matured striploin of Pennine beef served with goose fat roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables, Yorkshire pudding and rich gravy. It was excellent.
My choice was pie of the day – chicken and red wine with a shortcrust pastry. Fabulous. It had the same trimmings as the Sunday roast and was faultless.
Bigger appetites might have made use of the £3.50 side orders which included hand-cut chips, skinny fries, mashed potatoes, onion rings and the like.
For desserts, we could have had jam sponge but my wife chose panna cotta with rhubarb, sorbet and meringues, while I had cheesecake, one of those deconstructed affairs. Both were fine, though to be honest I’d rather have a constructed one and do the deconstructing myself. Just a personal preference.
Washed down with a pint of Leeds Pale (£3.80) and a glass of Pinot Grigio (£3.60 for a 125ml glass), this was a memorable meal.
Other real ales, lagers and a fantastic selection of wines make this a refined drinkers’ paradise.
The fixed price menu extends to Monday to Saturday lunchtimes and Monday to Friday teatimes with two courses for £17.50 and three courses for £21.50.
The Black Horse Inn seems to be making a name for itself as a wedding venue of late and it’s easy to see why. The building is magnificent with a courtyard (ideal for dining out in fine weather) and a glorious main dining room with beams.
It is a pub with Luddite links – though to be fair every pub in a five mile radius seems to have some connection to the uprising – and Robin Hood is reputed to have been buried a mile or so away. It’s well worth a visit. And well worth an overnight stay if you want to put the extensive wine menu to the test.
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Address: Westgate, Clifton, Brighouse
Tel: 01484 713862
Opening hours: food served Mon-Fri noon-2.30pm and 5.30pm-9pm. Sat noon-9pm, Sun noon-8pm