A dry old time next to the canal

THERE can’t be many restaurants around where you leave after a great meal thinking you’ve robbed them – and had a laugh too with a waiter blessed with the driest sense of humour in Yorkshire.

THERE can’t be many restaurants around where you leave after a great meal thinking you’ve robbed them – and had a laugh too with a waiter blessed with the driest sense of humour in Yorkshire.

And, believe me, in this county that’s very dry.

But that’s what happened when we went to Warehouse 12.04 in Sowerby Bridge.

We’d gone a few years ago, liked it, always said we’d go back and when we did, it appeared to have shut down.

That was a great shame as it’s in a magnificent location next to the Calder and Hebble Navigation Canal tucked away in Sowerby Bridge marina.

But the shame was reversed last August when it re-opened.

It’s still called Warehouse 12.04 because – and there’s no great shock here – it used to be a warehouse used to store stuff being taken along the canals.

The décor has been done with reverential sympathy to the building’s past with exposed stone walls and the doors still there where they lowered bales to waiting barges below.

The chairs are soft brown leather and, most importantly, comfortable. The layout is roomy enough to give an open plan feel while retaining a sense of intimacy.

There’s a spiral staircase leading up to the main restaurant area with a centrepiece chandelier hanging down.

All well and very good, but what drew us there was the three course offer for £12 midweek. Looking at the quality offering on the menu that can’t be right.

Someone must have got it wrong so, true to the Yorkshire spirit, we’d better get down there before they realise the mistake and change it.

There’s a choice of around five starters, mains and puddings.

Although some set menus can be, well, shall we just say ‘the easy option’ this was different.

Starters included spicy chorizo meatballs with Ciabatta, tomato and red pepper soup, a vegetarian risotto and a chicken starter.

And here was something of a problem as two of the dishes had sold out.

We pointed that out to our dry waiter and asked if there was anything else he could offer instead.

He looked wistfully into the distance before solemnly pronouncing: “I don’t know. Tell you what, I’ll have a word with the chef.’’

Word over, he was back and you’d forgive him if he returned in triumphant mode. But that wouldn’t be his style.

Instead he said: “The chef says he can do a honey and sesame grilled goat’s cheese with watercress, apple and grape salad.’’

Oh, go on then.

In terms of a substitution it was like bringing Messi on. Ladies, if you don’t know what I’m on about it’s nothing to do with the Eton Mess which came later. Just ask the bloke in your life.

It was a brilliant starter and only later did we realise that on the main menu it cost £7.50, but they honoured it within the set £12 menu.

Now that’s what I called customer service.

The meatballs were a similarly inspired dish that could easily have made it into mains mode. Meatballs with a twist and a spicy sauce for the bread.

It was shaping up to be a cracking evening so we told the waiter he’d done us proud with the substitution.

“Well, if you speak to my boss can you put a word in ...’’ he started to venture before his voice tailed away.

The mains on our set menu included blue cheese penne, chicken, pork loin or a 7oz sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce.

My wife, Ruth’s oven roasted chicken breast, with creamed grain mustard celeriac and fondant potato featured large chunks of chicken and proved that chicken dishes can be far more imaginative than most people make them.

My steak came medium but was possibly a tad rarer than some would like it and was with french fries in their own quaint little frying basket. Chunky chips would have been better.

The vegetables included mange tout and sweetcorn and were spot on in terms of crispiness.

Mains on the A La Carte include linguine pasta tossed in olive oil, chillies and garlic, with fresh crab meat (£12.95); prime beef fillet tails with potato gnocchi pasta in a creamy peppercorn sauce (£13.50); baked potato gnocchi with cherry tomatoes, green pesto cream and fresh rocket (£8.95); plus a wide range of imaginative pizzas such as sweet chilli marinated beef fillet and green pesto chicken priced around £9 and burgers costing just under £8.

The puddings kept the standard high with a large slab of sticky toffee pudding covered in a choice of cream, ice-cream or custard. A classic taste from a classic dish.

The Eton Mess was a mash-up of meringue and cream – oh and a few raspberries there for good measure. For me it was a taste from the past as meringue and cream was always my favourite as a kid.

As our waiter returned to serve the coffee he had something of ‘a slight technical issue’ with a glass. But quickly followed it up with his droll manner.

“You know I mentioned you talking to my boss, well ...”

He’d made our night as much as the food. One to remember.

 
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