BIG changes are afoot at the Crossroads Inn. The well-known husband and wife management team of ex-Town footballer Bob Wallace and his wife Liz, formerly popular mine hosts at The Wappy Springs, and briefly, more recently, at The Scape House, Scapegoat Hill, have now taken over at the pub/restaurant.
They moved in late last year and the Crossroads re-opened for business, after an extensive refurbishment, over Christmas.
The timing of the move meant that they missed the Christmas trade, but now Bob and Liz and their treasured chef, Mark Heap, who worked many years in London and at a Michelin star restaurant in Cheshire before teaming up with the Wallaces, are all hands to the pumps to put their attractive country inn firmly back on the map.
And talking of maps it might be appropriate first and foremost to confirm just exactly where the Crossroads actually is. Many say it’s in Shepley, but in fact the postal address is Penistone Road, New Mill. Originally The Junction, and for some years The Toss o’ Coin, it is conveniently perched at the boundary of the two villages, opposite Snowgatehead with splendid elevated views of the valley down to New Mill and beyond. Up the hill at the back, the road winds through to Wall Nooks, Upper Cumberworth.
There’s a warm, cosy feel to the place, which features timbered beams, roaring open log fires, a large restaurant area and a wooden decked summer beer garden where you can drink in those panoramic valley vistas.
It was quite some time since we had last visited the Crossroads, but last Saturday we called in at lunchtime to see what was on offer – and I’m glad we did.
There is an extensive a la carte menu, a separate children’s menu, a whole host of sandwich options and blackboard selections and a chef’s special board of prime dishes. We were spoilt for choice... Decisions, decisions.
The snow was going, but there was still a distinct nip in the air when we arrived last Saturday. Carol thought soup of the day might be the order of the day. It was – Winter Vegetable with crusty rolls and butter. She described it as “delicious”.
We were ordering from the blackboard at a set lunchtime price of £10.95 for starters and a main course, or optionally a mains and dessert served up from 12noon to 2pm.
For starters I plumped for the Mushroom and Chicken Liver Pate with chilli jam and toasted brioche – a generous portion of pate complemented by the hint of a devilled ‘kick’ delivered by the tangy jam.
Also on the blackboard menu were Home-made Cheesy Nachos, with salsa and hot Mexican jalapenos; King Prawn and Crayfish Cocktail with a fresh mango salsa, and Tempura Battered Somerset Brie, with fruit compote.
For her mains course, Carol chose the Crispy Skin Salmon, on a bed of crushed new potatoes, chef’s pesto and pea shoots. For me? Pan Fried Chicken Breast Fillet, with sauteed potatoes and roast garlic and tarragon cream. We shared a dish of seasonal vegetables – sugar snap peas, carrots and sprouts al dente, with a crunch.
I must admit to being pleasantly surprised at the variety and quality of the Crossroads fare. We were served pub food with a twist of fine dining done to perfection, in a relaxing atmosphere sat beside the welcoming log fire. My elegantly presented chicken dish on its bed of potatoes was quite simply delightful: quality ingredients served up in style. I had wondered whether the sauce might be a little too strong tasting accompaniment to the delicately flavoured chicken, but I need not have. The generous helping of moist, tender poultry and well balanced combination of flavours worked a treat and represented excellent value for money. And Carol’s Crispy Skin Salmon? Another huge success. The sizeable salmon fillet lived up to its promise and was just what it said – crispy on the outside, moist an succulent inside.
Carol could not resist the temptation of the desserts trolley – and chef Mark’s Home-made Lemon Curd Ice Cream came highly recommended.
Apparently it was even better than it sounds!
Other blackboard main dishes on offer last Saturday included the splendidly pub-grubby-sounding Trio of Lincolnshire Sausages with bubble and squeak, onion rings and ale gravy; Whole Tail Whitby Scampi, with chef’s salad, skinny fries and home-made tartare sauce and a vegetarian option of Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, wilted spinach and white wine and parmesan cream served with pappardelle pasta (flat pasta noodles) and garlic bread.
Available from the Chef’s Special Selections board last Saturday lunch were starters of Green-lipped Mussels served on half shells in white wine, garlic and olive cream with dipping bread (£5.25), Yorkshire Blue Cheese and Portobello Mushrooms on toasted artisan bread (£4.95).
Special mains dished were Chorizo Stuffed Chicken Breast Fillet, wilted spinach and crushed potatoes and chef’s pesto (£10.50); Giant Beer-battered Cod, with fat chips and mushy peas (£10.75) and Round Green Farm Venison Haunch, pan-seared and served on truffle and spring onion mash with a sloe gin and fresh blueberry jus (£13.95).
Bob and Liz briefly retired from the pub trade, but the lure of the Crossroads has brought them back into the business, and judging from the warmth of their hospitality, the wide selection of beers, and the quality and value-for-money of their food, this latest venture comes as a welcome addition to the New Mill/Shepley district pub scene. The punters should soon be flocking to the door.