Restaurant review: Hemingways, Horsforth, Leeds

Portugese custard tart. PIC: Tony Johnson.
Portugese custard tart. PIC: Tony Johnson.
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A seismic shockwave rippled through Horsforth earlier this month - although people in outlying regions may not have felt it.

I class myself as a regular visitor to Town Street and its higgledy piggledy range of shops. There’s a traditional toy shop (which I sometimes look at and wonder how on earth it has managed to survive to this day but it has and that has to be a good thing for anyone tired of the consumer gloss of larger, more well-known toy stores), there’s a place which sells bespoke birthday cards and gifts, the shop of endless wonder (the curiously named Spider Pie), where, despite its diminutive size, you feel like you could become quite easily lost, only to be found days later next to a set of 10p finger puppets. The other thing I associate Horsforth with is Cafe Marinetti, which seems to have been there forever but which, according to its facebook page and a note in the window has, I am sad to report, closed.

Sunday roast lamb. PIC: Tony Johnson

Sunday roast lamb. PIC: Tony Johnson

A for sale board has gone up too and there’s a forlorn goodbye note on their fb page, which I’ll let you read for yourself. So, this was how I came to Horsorth the week before last. The revelation was put into stark contrast by the fact La Casita (upmarket tapas) which is bang opposite, was celebrating its first birthday, a clutch of chefs cooking food on the pavement outside. But I am not here to talk about either of those two places, though their differing fortunes do serve to set the context for this review, which is of Hemingways, a little further up but on the same side of the road as Cafe Marinetti. According to its website, it serves authentic and artisanal Cuban food and cocktails.

And I can tell you now that it more than lives up to that promise. Cuban cuisine seems to be quite popular at the moment but this is the first place I’ve seen which has attempted a take on traditional British Sunday dinner and I have to say it was a complete success.

However, I’m jumping the gun, because before that we tucked into a black bean, coconut rice and coriander quesadilla starter with avocado aoli (£4.95), a lightly spiced, melt-in-the-mouth flatbread sandwich, which I will try to remember to make at home instead of cheese on toast. There was also a tortilla starter (£4.95), a Spanish omelette with sweet potato and roasted red onions: joy in a dish.

As it was a Sunday, we were given the Sunday menu, although it was also possible to order from the main weekday menu. Still, we both went for their take on Sunday lunch, my partner opting for the lamb and myself the beef (both £10.95). The lamb I have to say was sublime, the meat cooked to perfection, while the roast potatoes carried a hint of Cuban heat; it also came with green beans, parsnips, cauliflower and (how could they not) Yorkshire pud. It was Sunday dinner with spice and not a bad thing at all. The only downside was the beef I had was a little tough in places.

10 August 2017......    Oliver
 Hemingways,  Horsforth
- black bean quesadilla starter.  Picture Tony Johnson.

10 August 2017...... Oliver Hemingways, Horsforth - black bean quesadilla starter. Picture Tony Johnson.

Desserts came in the form of Portugese custard tarte £4) and chocolate brownie (£4.75), the latter of which was served cold, which was a shame seeing as it came with ice cream. Additionally, it was possibly a little dense. The Portugese tarte, on the other hand was a sweet, rich, caramelised delight. With drinks and a children’s Sunday lunch (£11.50), the whole thing came to £72.95.

This is a nice place and much larger than it first appears, the interior reaching back and back and then back some more, with a decent (covered) outside seating area at the very far end. It’s tastefully decorated throughout with generous splashes of Cuban culture adorning the walls and a colourful curved tiled bar that makes a nice focal point.

But why is it called Hemingways? Well, apparently, the American novelist Ernest Hemingway lived in the Cuban capital of Havana during the 1940s and 50s, having fallen madly in love with its intricacies, cultures and lifestyles.

Hemingways in Horsforth is attempting to bring people a piece of that Cuban experience and for the most part it manages to do that. It helps there are several areas to the interior, with a separate bar area just beyond the entrance and a dining area to further back and down some stairs. They do a nice line in bespoke cocktails/mocktails and will happily make you one to order. Service is laid back but assured, although I think out waitress musts have been new as there were several things we asked her about which she didn’t know off the cuff, such as whether we were able to order from the main menu as well as the Sunday one.

10 August 2017......    Oliver
 Hemingways,  Horsforth
portugese custard tarte. Picture Tony Johnson.

10 August 2017...... Oliver Hemingways, Horsforth portugese custard tarte. Picture Tony Johnson.

There’s no doubt Horsforth is changing and Hemingways is, in my view, part of a general move within the town to slightly more upmarket dining. It has also, to its credit, managed to set itself apart from nearby restaurants (and lord knows there’s no lack of those on Town Street).

Whatever becomes of Cafe Marinetti, carving out its own identity, as Hemingways has, will be key.

FACTFILE

Address: 15 Town Street, Horsforth, LS18 5JL

10 August 2017......    Oliver
 Hemingways,  Horsforth. Picture Tony Johnson.

10 August 2017...... Oliver Hemingways, Horsforth. Picture Tony Johnson.

Telephone: 0113 258 0909

Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 9am-12.30am, Fri 9am-1am, Sat 10am-1am, Sun 10am-12.30am

Website: www.hemingwaysbarandkitchen.co.uk

SCORES

Food 4/5

Value: 3/5

10 August 2017......    Oliver
 Hemingways,  Horsforth
-sunday roast lamb. Picture Tony Johnson.

10 August 2017...... Oliver Hemingways, Horsforth -sunday roast lamb. Picture Tony Johnson.

Atmosphere: 4/5

Service: 3/5

10 August 2017......    Oliver
 Hemingways,  Horsforth. Picture Tony Johnson.

10 August 2017...... Oliver Hemingways, Horsforth. Picture Tony Johnson.

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