It’s difficult to imagine how this location used to look.
A charming restaurant, the Old Post Office, stands just a few feet from the M1 in wonderful countryside between Wakefield and Barnsley.
It doesn’t look much like a post office now, more of a confident Georgian house, perhaps, less than a mile from the splendour of Bretton Hall and the stunning Yorkshire Sculpture Park, one of our county’s gems.
I first came across the Old Post Office in the 1980s when it was a thriving pub. I can’t remember if it sold food in those days, but it was always packed to the rafters.
Now it’s all changed. This place still sells beer and wine but it makes its money from food. Especially steaks.
This is a popular establishment. You are advised to book, especially for weekends when tables are at a premium. We didn’t but we were lucky enough to find the last table for four, even though we thought we had avoided the rush by arriving just after 3pm.
Now, let’s get one thing straight. This might be within earshot of the M1 and there is, for some reason, a huge mountain of gravel within 100 yards of the building but don’t worry. The Old Post Office is quite tranquil.
The Imperial Gazetteer of 1870-72 says Haigh is a hamlet in Kexborough township, Darton parish, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, on the ‘Wakefield and Barnesley railway’.
This was four-and-a-half miles north-west of what we would now call Barnsley. It has a railway station and a population of 577 and it is home to Birthwaite Hall, with its handsome Gothic edifice. The population is somewhat less these days.
There is no mention of what we might consider an equally impressive and important building, Bretton Hall. Other things have changed in what would have been a quiet, tranquil corner of West Yorkshire.
If the new-fangled railway, which opened in the 1850s, had an impact on the locality, it was nothing compared to the M1 which split Haigh in two in the 1960s.
Yet, the damage that the M1 does the peace and quiet must be offset by the fact that this is now such an easy place to get to and from. Twenty minutes to Leeds. Ten minutes to Wakefield and Huddersfield.
So, how did we end up here? It was my dad’s 80th birthday and as a steak addict, this was a must-visit venue.
First things first, we began with a starter. The choice included the run of the mill together with the interesting dishes: Yorkshire fishcakes, crispy breaded whitebait and caprese salad.
Two of our group indulged. Breaded brie (£5.75) and the spicy meat balls (£6.95) were sublime.
Dad was impressed by the food. Not just by the steak – it was lean and well cooked. We were impressed when the chef brought out the raw meat to see how thick he wanted the slices. Nice touch. Apparently, this place is known for its ‘cut your own’ approach.
It was an 8oz sirloin steak with French fries, but he could have had chunky chips, seemingly freshly sliced and cooked. He could have had any number of sauces – Diane, blue cheese, bourbon, the list goes on – but he prefers it neat.
My wife had a steak and stilton sandwich – more of a meal than it sounds and a bargain at £5.95; I had chargrilled burger with cheese and bacon (£10.50) and my sister had lasagne (£10.95) which was arguably the top choice. It came with a huge flat garlic bread and had a home-cooked look. Faultless.
Steaks are a speciality with rump, sirloin and rib eye on offer together with fillet medallions, T-bones, fillet dolcelatte (a blue-veined Italian soft cheese) and mixed grills among many other dishes.
Most intriguing was a £30 dish tagged Posh Surf and Turf, which comprised 8oz fillet steaks topped with chilli and tiger prawns in a tomato sauce.
We had a glass of Famous Grouse (£3.30, cheap for a restaurant), a 250ml house wine (£4.30, again not a bad price), a couple of Pepsis (£2.40 each).
Altogether, four were happily fed and watered for £70. Impressive. And easy to get to, thanks to the M1, junction 38.
Address: The Old Post Office, 600 Huddersfield Road, Haigh, Barnsley, S75 4DR
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs noon-9pm, Fri & Sat noon- 9.30pm, Sunday noon-6pm
Telephone: 01226 387619