The Moody Cow has a lot going for it, not least of which is its location (the wonderfully quaint sounding Apperley Bridge)
That puts it just enough outside the city limits of both Bradford and Leeds to enable it to bask in that sense of instantaneous bliss one used only to experience when confronted with such yawning vistas of windswept fields and valleys as Yorkshire has to offer beyond its urban fringe.
Nowadays, city dwellers like me will settle for fewer houses and ones made from actual stone as a passable alternative to such idylls and also as an escape from the humdrum banality of city life (so long as the drive there is under half an hour, which is especially true for parents with children under a certain age, where the words ‘I need the toilet’ can kibosh just about any family excursion, no matter how well planned).
The Moody Cow has a great name by the way, don’t you think? It’s not one of those off-the-peg names, is it? It’s been properly thought about. The person who thought about it (I imagine) knew exactly what they wanted when they thought of it, too. They wanted somewhere bespoke, a destination where the food did the talking and where the whole darn experience seemed effortlessly fun. Mostly, they’ve achieved this. Although I do wonder how busy it is on St Valentine’s Day (I mean, how is that conversation supposed to go: ‘Hi darling, put your best dress on tonight, I’m taking you out,’ followed by: ‘Ooh, where are we going, dear?’, an exchange which would be swiftly curtailed by a ‘set-the-tone-for-the-rest-of-the-night/if-not-week’ riposte: ‘The Moody Cow.’ Put your slippers back on.)
The Moody Cow is a name which is actually fun to say and while it trips off the tongue easily enough, it lingers in the memory, which is basically their marketing taken care of. It lives in one of those old Edwardian looking mansion houses that’s somehow managed to survive metropolisation. Usually, such buildings are snapped up by dentists. This one happens to have a more than half-way decent restaurant in it. Conveniently, it is just up the road from The Stansfield Arms, which has a good reputation for food and drink itself. In that respect, good restaurants tend to act like banks, in that geographically at least they huddle together, which has the effect of drawing more people to an area and, counter-intuitively, boosts the incomes of all concerned (at least, that’s what they taught me about ‘conglomeration theory’ in high school urban geography).
We found ourselves at The Moody Cow between Christmas and new year and it was a special trip out for us all. We actually arrived at 5pm (when they opened at 5.30pm but this gave us time to nip down the road to the aforementioned ‘other restaurant’ for quick pint.
Half an hour later, however, we were back up there and shown into the place, which has a nice feel about it. It’s airy, with tall ceilings, windows that belong in a bank, there are pictures of cows just about everywhere (cows grazing and looking moody mostly) and even the head of one mounted on a wall (that one looks especially moody on account of its humongous horns). There are tables with chairs and also booths, which have cow-hide backs, there are aesthetically pleasing ornately curved lamps and a huge indoor palm tree-type plant in one corner.
It’s not overly formal but at the same time it maintains a sense of sophistication. Staff are neatly turned out and courteous to a fault.
Service was pretty swift, our drinks order was taken almost straight away - we ordered a bottle of house white for the table (a Finca Tempranal Airen at £14.50, which was eminently quaffable and came in a plastic bag full of iced water, rather than a traditional wine cooler) and then I tried a half pint of Manabrea (£2.25), which apparently is one of their best sellers and I can see why - it’s a nice, fresh beer with teeny tiny bubbles and a delicate finish which lingers just long enough to make you want some more.
Suitably relaxed, we perused the various menus on offer, of which there were a few. Aside from the a la carte, there was one for Moody Cow Cocktails, another purely for G&Ts and - thankfully - there was also a children’s menu, bespoke and cleverly named Moody Calves, with a cheeseburger, chicken nuggets and fish goujons, served with peas or beans, plus a dessert, all for £6.95.
Food for the adults came in the form of scallops (£8.95) and clam chowder (£5.95), a song of the sea if ever there was one, a rich, velvety, savoury bowl of moorishness, while the scallops also went down a treat.
Mains included a chilli burger with skin on fries (£13.50) and a 10oz sirloin done medium rare (£19.95), plus some onion rings (£2.95), plus the two kiddie meals at £6.95 a pop (sausage and mash and cheeseburger with peas).
Both our mains were worth the money - the burger was huge, containing two patties, while the steak was cooked as I asked and also filled the plate. The place also has a salad bar, although I am not sure how well this works in a restaurant like this, where everything else is so made to measure.
Dessert was peanut butter and caramel cheesecake and sticky toffee pudding (both £5.95). The latter was demolished in under two minutes (although this was out of politeness - had I been on my own at home, I’m confident it would have disappeared in less than half that time), but the cheesecake didn’t really work for me - it seemed too rich and heavy.
The final bill rolled in at £103.35, so pretty good overall and certainly a place worth visiting before the cows come home (sorry, couldn’t help it).
Address: The Moody Cow, Apperley Lane, Apperley Bridge, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD10 0NS
Phone: 0113 239 1444
Opening times: Mon–Thurs noon-2.30pm & 5.30-9.30pm, Fri-Sat noon-2.30pm & 5.30pm-10pm, Sun noon-8.30pm