IT was, we admit, a little unfair that we dropped on the Dam Inn in Wakefield a few weeks ago just as it was planning to close for a major revamp.
We vowed at the time we would return to see how this charmingly delightful food pub had been transformed.
So, here we are: myself, my stepdaughter and her son, who at six months old seemed blissfully unmoved by the new décor. In fact he slept through most of our hour-long visit.
Well, it was his first venture on an eating out expedition and he took more of an observational role, rather than tucking in. He wasn’t alone. There were quite a few babies visiting. Well, it is a family pub with a lovely ambience.
He missed a treat. We are happy to report that while there is a new menu, the offerings seem largely unchanged.
There is still a carvery, which seems to be ever so popular with the Dam Inn regulars. In fact, one diner told us it was the best carvery he had been to, which is praise indeed given that it seems every pub in the county has jumped on the Sunday roast bandwagon.
Away from the carvery, there is a menu which combines regular pub grub with some interestingly sounding dishes. There’s certainly enough to warrant another visit.
Now the Dam Inn is a celebrated pub in a good position, next to Newmillerdam. Parking is limited but thankfully we found a spot.
It was the Saturday before Mother’s Day and it was pretty busy but we found a table. Staff were polite and accommodating.
The mood of the pub has been given a lift by the revamp. Time has been called on the old-fashioned look and it looks more like an upmarket country inn these days.
Our two-course lunch with a couple of drinks was £36.14. Not bad at all. We began with a gin and tonic for me (£4.55 for a big one) and a Corrida white wine (£3.25) for my stepdaughter.
The waitress didn’t ask which gin I preferred and brought me a Gordon’s.
I didn’t realise until a little later that this pub, as is the fashion these days, offers a huge selection of gins – 13 in total. Quite why gin has become so popular these days is hard to fathom. Only a few years ago it was very much a drink for the middle-aged types. Now it’s so much in vogue with more varieties than you can shake a cocktail stick at.
Gordon’s was fine but given a choice I might have tried Warner Edwards’ Victorian rhubarb gin or a Williams’ GB extra-dry.
The Corrida wine was pleasant enough. In fact, the drinks’ menu is excellent with a broad range of beers and ciders especially good.
We ordered from the main menu. I started with French onion soup ‘topped with a cheese croute and served with focaccia bread’ (£3.79) and my stepdaughter had calamari (£3.99), described as ‘golden calamari strips dusted with paprika and served with a lemon mayonnaise dip and pea shoots’.
The calamari was excellent; the soup less so, for it was thicker and stodgier than I imagined.
The carvery tempted us but we decided to eat a little lighter. My stepdaughter had a steak and onion sandwich (£6.49) and chips (£2.29) while I had rump steak (£10.49) with onion rings (£2.29).
The steak was good – a 35-day matured piece of meat with a strong flavour, while my stepdaughter’s sandwich was even better, a ‘freshly grilled rump steak, with cos lettuce and tomato, topped with BBQ sauce, melting mozzarella, Cheddar and sautéed red onions’.
For bigger appetites, you might try a roast lamb shank or one of a choice of four burger dishes.
Vegetarians are catered for with a ‘veggie’ burger, ‘superfood salads’ or butternut squash and pearl barley risotto. The pear and pecorino salad sounded good, too.
The children’s menu looks interesting, too. For £3.99, you can choose a two course meal covering pasta and vegetables, chicken salad, grilled burger, fish and chips and desserts such as peach and pair ‘fruity pot’ or ice cream.
Plus there is a pick and mix option covering more unusual dishes such as grilled halloumi or salmon fish cakes.
The last time we came here we were disappointed that several of our chosen dishes were unavailable. This time, there were no such problems.
We usually go to The Dam Inn on a daytime but evenings seem to be fun, too, with music nights and quizzes on the diary. Overall, it was a very worthwhile visit. This is a wonderful pub with a nice down to earth feel about it and some touches of class.
FACTFILE - THE DAM INN, WAKEFIELD
Address: 669 Barnsley Road, Newmillerdam, Wakefield
Opening times: Mon & Tues 11am-10pm, Weds-Fri 11am-11pm, Sat 9.30am-11pm, Sun 9.30am-10.30pm. Food: Mon-Sat noon-10.30pm, Sun noon-8pm
Telephone: 01924 255625