The Fleece, Holme
The Village, Holme, Holmfirth HD9 2QG
Opening hours Closed Mondays. Open 12pm-3pm and 6pm to 10.30 or 11.30 pm Tuesday to Friday. Saturday 12noon to 11.30pm, Sunday 12pm to 6pm.
The bill£92.55 for four including drinks
I’M going to spoil the story by giving you the ending. The Fleece, at Holme, serves very good food. Seriously good food, in fact, and in spectacular surroundings.
Need I say more?
Well, I’m sure my colleagues in our features department who are responsible for the Dining Out articles each Friday would welcome a few more words.
It was a suggestion by Mel Booth, my sports editor chum, that took the four of us to the moorland village of Holme on a Saturday evening.
Boothy, by his own admission, is a man who likes his food. And if he says a place is worth a visit, then a visit it is definitely worth.
He wasn’t wrong.
Shirley Amesbury’s cosy pub and restaurant slap bang in the centre of Holme village has a distinct homely feel about it.
The welcome even started in the car park, with the smell and smoke of a real coal fire drifting from the solid stone-built pub.
That fire was a welcoming sight with the chill of an Easter evening descending on the village.
Inside it’s a treat to find a pub that hasn’t wanted to change. The Fleece, despite its growing reputation for fine food, is very much a local pub.
For more than 150 years it has been an alehouse, serving the tiny hamlet of 70 or so houses that make up Holme.
For many years, too, it has welcomed walkers keen to enjoy the spectacular scenery from Holme Moss, a few hundred metres further up the road, or those enjoying the bracing walks around the nearby Yateholme and Digley reservoirs.
Shirley has been at the pub exactly nine years, taking over after it had been closed for four months.
The former ambulancewoman is proud of the reputation she and her team have earned.
“We have progressed a lot since I came. I started off in the kitchen but I realised my limitations and I now have a team of five chefs who do a great job.
“Food has always been my focus and I hope we provide what people want.”
She certainly does. The four of us enjoyed a total of nine dishes and I have to admit it was impossible to find fault with any of them.
Starters included Thai crab cakes, some superb button mushrooms in a brandy, garlic and cream sauce, a very generous helping of chicken liver pate with chutney and a huge bowl of mushroom and spinach soup, almost a meal in itself.
A bonus was that the bread served with each was fresh and tasty and the salad accompanying the crab cakes had obviously just been made and thoughtfully put together.
Main courses posed a bit of a dilemma; we were spoiled for choice. The normal menu items were supplemented by blackboard specials and every one was tempting.
I toyed with the steak or the chicken but stuck to true form and went for lamb shank. It was a superb joint of meat, placed in the middle of a hearty, rich vegetable broth, filled with onions, garlic and carrots.
Linda was delighted with her lemon sole, served with prawns on a bed of spinach in a delicate sauce, while Karin chose a pasta dish packed to the gills with chorizo sausage, olives and tomatoes.
James manfully waded through the biggest steak and ale pie I had ever seen, along with a mountain of crisp chips, and, amazingly, even managed to wolf down a chocolate gateaux and ice-cream.
It was a great evening, great food and a great experience.
Thanks, Shirley, and thanks Boothy.