SOUTH Huddersfield is blessed with an array of good places to eat out in. It is not just me saying this – they are the words of a friend from the south side of Sheffield.
“We have nothing like this in our area,” he told me after a recent meal at one of our local restaurants. He took me a little by surprise. After all Sheffield is a big city.
Barry and his wife Mavis are regular visitors to our neck of the woods and they like what they find in our eateries.
As the competition in the business of dining out gets tougher, with pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels all vying for our custom, the ones offering that certain ingredient a little different will inevitably be the winners.
That’s where Bagden Hall scores highly. The journey up its impressive driveway marks it out as something that bit special.
Built in the 1860s by the wealthy Victorian mill owner G H Norton, Bagden Hall is a palatial country house hotel set among 40 acres of pristine gardens and grounds with its very own lake and nine-hole golf course.
We had not booked our meal in advance when we went visiting on a recent Thursday evening, but we were warmly welcomed by two young men on reception and ushered into the bar area where a smiling young waitress served us drinks and brought us copies of the menu to ponder.
At Bagden Hall there are two eating areas: The Glendale Restaurant, featuring a fine dining table d’hote menu in a setting offering equally impressive views across Nortonthorpe, Scissett to Bretton and Wakefield beyond; then there is Norton’s Bar where we studied the menus, which serves up bistro-style fare and bar snacks.
We were ushered into the Glendale room, elegantly furnished and decorated in traditional period style, and shown to a corner table overlooking the gardens. The evening was warm and sunny and the trees were in full leaf to add to the tranquil scene.
We were served freshly baked homemade warm crusty rolls and salted butter and for our starters we agreed to agree on the crab cakes – two generous servings on a bed of Thai salad with a shot of langoustine bisque. The balance of flavours was expertly achieved with the delicate taste and texture of the crab highlighted by a piquant Thai dressing.
We could have opted for homemade Soup of the Day; Goats Cheese Pannacotta with beetroot textures and roasted breadcrumbs; Bagden’s Famous Yorkshire Black Pudding, served up with apple puree, jelly and finished with mustard cream but we were more than satisfied with our choice.
For the main course Carol went for the Herb Gnocchi, with sun blushed tomatoes, baby spinach, stilton and toasted pine nuts. I plumped for the Fillet of Sea Bass, served on a bed of sweet potato fondant, segments of citrus fruits and finished with coconut foam. The presentation was a real work of art and the flavours a delight. Three fillets of beautifully cooked bass, served on top of the finely-textured pureed yam fondant – and the portions were deceptively generous. It came with potatoes and seasonal vegetables for two in a separate bowl, lightly prepared to preserve the ‘bite’.
Carol’s gnocchi came in an elegant bowl, the dish was highly colourful with a delightful aroma – and there was a lot of it. Her verdict: “This sauce is absolutely lovely.” I had thought of going for the gnocchi myself, but as it turned out, the fish dish had me completely won over.