The Black Horse Inn, Clifton
Westgate, Clifton, Brighouse
Venue:The Black Horse Inn
Opening hours:12noon to 2.30pm and 5.30pm to 9.30pm Monday to Saturday and from 12noon to 8pm on Sunday
LIONEL Richie was playing Hello when we walked into the cosy restaurant at The Black Horse Inn at Clifton.
Not live, of course, just on the CD, thank goodness. One of the sickliest songs ever.
It may sound a strange thing to say but this inn has been the temporary home to some of showbusiness’ biggest stars in days gone by.
Shirley Bassey and Cilla Black have stayed at this 17th century inn. So too have legendary comedian Tommy Trinder and chart-toppers such as The Drifters and Gerry And The Pacemakers.
And then, of course, there was Danny La Rue in his pink flowing gown.
That’s enough names heavily dropped for now, but why were they there at all? Well, it dates back to the 60s and 70s and the golden age of showbusiness when Batley Variety Club and Wakefield Theatre Club were in their heyday. Their photographs adorn the walls to prove it.
When you’re in the main dining-room you can’t help but think it cannot have changed much in those decades – and the inn has been run by the same family for the last 60 years.
It’s artex on the red walls and pale ceiling with a patterned carpet that is, well, let’s just say ‘timeless’ with exposed beams and tables covered traditionally in overlapping white linen. The chairs – brown leather – are modern and comforting, but why is there a rocking horse in front of the fire?
But, to state the totally obvious, it is the food that counts when it comes to restaurant reviews and the cuisine here leaves nostalgia behind.
It’s modern, vibrant and dances up and down on expectant tastebuds. Although there is an A La Carte, midweek diners can take advantage of a fixed price menu of two courses for £13.95 or three courses for £16.95. We took advantage.
The chef’s ‘soup of the moment’ was broccoli and stilton. Clearly he’d taken more than a moment to make it as this was thick, green and creamy – and even came in its own jug. The other starter was prawn and crayfish cocktail with caper mayonnaise, pesto-dressed leaves and lemon.
It’s like they’d had some kind of taste injection. Both the prawns and their tiger-coloured sidekicks were packed with flavour and the mayonnaise had a distinct vinegary kick to give it all the real taste of the sea.
Mains were pan fried fillet of smoked haddock nestling on a light curried rice with a couple of soft-boiled quails eggs for company. The other was Yorkshire lamb chump with horseradish new potatoes, lentils and thyme jus.
Smoked? The haddock must have been on Woodbines as once again the flavour was all-consuming, but the rice could have coped with another flick of the wrist when it came to adding the curry.
The lamb was red and cut into slices and the new potatoes turned out to be mashed. Adding the horseradish to the potato – so simple yet so effective. Try it with spring onion too to liven up your mealtimes. Live a little.
Vegetarians are down to one choice on the fixed price menu – sun-blushed tomato and spinach pappardelle with fresh peas, chives and hazelnut oil, although we spotted what sounded like a veggie cracker on the A La Carte which was aubergine, courgette and red pepper lasagne with Yorkshire blue cheese and herb crust.
If you aren’t a vegetarian and wanted to push the boat out – so far out it has disappeared over the horizon – then there’s Harewood House estate prime saddle of venison with Wellington garnish, chicken liver parfait and mushroom duxelle for £21.95.
Not much room for puds so we shared an apple pannacotta. Didn’t sound spectacular and the waiter described it as “like a mousse” but it turned out to be small, creamy and custardy culinary gem. Those we snubbed included crème brulee and sticky toffee pudding.
As we left Lionel was back on, this time Dancing On The Ceiling, but that was the last thing on our minds after such a filling meal. Wish he’d written a song called Goodbye.