FOR my eight-week old grandchild’s first dining out experience, we were in good company - there were six tiny tots at Blacker Hall Farm near Wakefield. Mums can tell these things you see and there’s good reason why they like this place.
It’s a family-friendly environment, offering top notch food and drink. I’ve been here before and enjoyed one of the best full English breakfasts I’ve ever eaten. And all this in a garden centre of all places.
Blacker Hall is much more than that, though. It’s at Branch Road in Calder Grove, a stone’s throw from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park at Bretton and within each reach of the M1. It is four businesses in one: a farm, a fine-dining farm shop, a café-restaurant and a garden centre. Not cheap but these establishments rarely are. Judging by how busy it was, though, customers must find it worth the price.
Some 80 per cent of everything sold is locally grown or reared, a unique selling point.
The menu is extensive, from proper meals to snacks, from soups to sandwiches. I was tempted by the classic Spanish omelette (£8.50) and some of the ‘signature sandwiches’, supplemented by a side-order of fries (surely it should be ‘chips’ in a traditional English establishment?).
I settled for the ‘Farmer’s tasting platter’ (£8.50) which sounded like a Ploughman’s. Award-winning pork pie, farmhouse sausage roll, quiche, cider pickled onions, Fountains gold cheddar, chutney and salad, plus bread and proper butter. Fantastic.
Meanwhile, my dining partner chose a ham roll (£5.95) and chips (£2.25). Actually, the menu told us it was a roast ham sandwich with Wensleydale cheese, sliced beef tomatoes and crispy salad. Now nearly £6 might be a lot for a sandwich but if ever one was worth so much, this is it.
There is a ‘little farmer’s menu’ which my grandson will tackle in good time and a decent choice of proper meals, especially fish dishes.
We added a mocha (£3.25), a cappuccino (£2.90) and a diet cola (£1.20). There is a good selection of hot and cold drinks and what seems to be an excellent wine, ale, beer and cider menu, too. On a different day, Acorn Blonde from Barnsley’s Acorn brewery might have been appropriate. Or Scarborough Fair IPA. Or maybe Oatmeal Stout or a cider from Holmfirth.
We finished off with cake - £3.95 each for lemon and blueberry and espresso and walnut. It brought the bill to £31.95. It might sound a lot for a café but I’ve paid more for poorer pub food.
And the service was with a genuine smile. My grandson might not appreciate it yet (he slept through the whole thing) but in time, I am sure he will.
FACTFILE: Blacker Hall Farm, Branch Road, Calder Grove, Wakefield.