THE plaintive tones of Percy Sledge’s soulful When A Man Loves A Woman emanated from the juke box the very first time I went into the Railway pub in my home village of Shepley.
I remember it so well. I liked the song but was slightly amused by the singer’s name. It had just started snowing outside.
The Railway pub, perched under the bridge on the main A629 Abbey Road, served railway passengers as well as the villagers, offering warmth and comfort to weary travellers. I seem to recall that it sold Hammond’s Ales.
Then as the pub revolution gathered pace it was sold off and the new owner began transformation work to create what became The Outfitters. More recently its name was changed to The Cask and Spindle, which I believe was derived by combining essential items of two of Shepley’s main ‘cottage’ industries – woollen textiles and brewing. Seth Senior had founded The Sovereign Brewery at the top of the village in 1829.
The Cask & Spindle has in recent times built a reputation for its food service, so on one recent lunchtime we called in to sample its fare. Was it fate that all those years later it started snowing again as we arrived? This time, however, there was no evidence of Percy Sledge.
We were warmly welcomed by landlady Lindsey who has run The Cask for four years with more than a little help from her mum Marilyn. They hail from the Rotherham area but seem to have settled in successfully with the Shepley scene and have built up a brisk trade.
Inside, the spacious pub features timbered beams, frames and panelling, exposed brickwork and cosy alcoves. The food choices are chalked on framed blackboards dotted around the walls. The range of the dishes is extensive.
We walked around then settled on the Smoked Salmon and Prawn Cornets, with salad and Marie Rose sauce (£5.50) for Carol, and Chicken, Leek and Gruyere Cheese Knots with salad and a cranberry dip – a new addition to the menu apparently (£4.50).
Carol’s seafood platter was well received. It was of generous proportions and, as she observed, could have made an satisfying main course. I too liked the flavour combination of my cheesy knots and the sweet and sour effect of the dip.
The menus are changed weekly, but that Tuesday the starter choice included Fresh Mussels with white wine and cream sauce (£5.25); Crispy-crumb Cherry Peppers stuffed with garlic and cream cheese, served with salad with a sweet chilli dip (£4.10); Chilli and Mango Prawns with salad (£4.20); Fig and Goats Cheese Parcels with salad and cranberry dip (£4.10); Black Pudding and Bacon with salad (£4.10); Duck Spring Rolls with salad and Hoi Sin dip (£4) or Soup of the Day with bread roll and butter.
For mains I ordered the Whole Grilled Seabass with winter vegetables, potatoes – and chips (£13.50), Carol chose the Grilled Tuna Steak with a mild mustard sauce, vegetables potatoes and chips (£12.50).
The fish was cooked to perfection, my seabass fell off the bone and Carol’s tuna was firm but moist and tender with a subtle, piquant sauce, I know because we shared to compare notes. Again the portions were most generous, my bass was a veritable whale. Here were simple ingredients, expertly prepared.
Top of the range choices on their mains menu were the Mixed Grill (£18.50) and the 8oz Sirloin Steak with chasseur sauce with veg, potatoes and chips (£16.50), then there was Lamb Chops etc (£14.50) Chicken with white wine and mushroom sauce etc (£8.65); Pork Chop with sausage veg, etc (£8.90); Braising Steak in Guinness Gravy etc (£8.90); Cumberland Sausage Ring with red wine and cranberry sauce etc (£8.80) and Roast Lamb. Yorkshire Pud roast potatoes, veg and gravy etc.
The vegetarian options included Ricotta Cannelloni (£8.25); Nut Roast with apricots and goats cheese (£8.25); Vegetable Lasagne (£8.25); Vegetable and Stilton Crumble (£8.25) and The Veg-Burger (£6.50).
The pudding range is also extensive, featuring: Alabama Chocolate Fudge Cake; Big Baked Cheese Cake; Sticky Toffee Pudding; Fruit Pie; Fruit Trifle, Sponges – jam, treacle or ginger; Chocolate Sponge with Chocolate Custard and specials including Lemon Pudding and Custard, Tiramasu and Raspberry and White Chocolate Ice Cream Cake.
Cask and Spindle chefs Mark Fox Jones and Matt Squires serve up an impressive, extensive range of high quality, wholesome fare, with subtle twists (and knots) – and the prices are right.
It is not surprising then that Lindsey and her family team have built up an appreciative following of satisfied regular callers.