THE good news is The Foresters Arms at Lower Cumberworth has opened its doors again with a new team at the helm.
In recent years the Lower Cumberworth inn, a popular haunt on the south Huddersfield good pub trail, has had a succession of managers and has re-opened and then closed again several times.
Six months after last shutting its doors the Foresters is now back in business – much to the delight of the locals.
The man behind the latest venture is Andy Edmondson, a Mancunian who lived in Bradford before re-locating to Lower Cumberworth.
Andy has worked on the administrative side of the catering business for more than 20 years and has nurtured an increasing urge to run his own business. When he came across the Foresters his mind was made up. This was his Utopian ideal, a country pub in an idyllic location – the right place at, hopefully, the right time.
When Andy re-opened the pub in December, it was for the drinkers only. “I wanted to send out a message that we were here to cater for everyone, not just on the food side of things,” he said.
Andy and head chef Tracey were working on dishes for the new menus, but were not going to be rushed into re-opening the restaurant and bar meals side of the operation.
“Our aim is serve up quality, locally-sourced food, whilst providing the best possible value for money. The majority of our beef and pork products are supplied by local farmer James Peace. Ice cream is supplied by Dearne Lea and vegetables by the nearby High Royd farm shop. This gives us an excellent provenance and we believe a superior quality,” said Andy.
Carol and I had called in to check out the new regime. It was a Saturday lunchtime and the pub was doing a steady trade.
A few were eating and some had just called in for a drink, and it seemed to me to be a good balance, if a little short on numbers, but inevitably it is going to take time to woo back the punters after yet another false dawn.
We ordered drinks and found some menus in the corner. A couple who were eating at a side table at the main bar saw what we were doing and passed over another, more extensive menu for our perusal.
Then we noticed the special menu – it was a Valentine’s selection, arrhhh, how romantic!
Priced at £14.99 for three courses it also looked good value, so we went for it. For starters there was a choice of Roast Parsnip Soup; Prawn Cocktail; Champagne and Cranberry Paté or Mussels in White Wine.
Carol chose the soup I plumped for the paté. Tastefully presented with a dressed side salad and mini Hovis-type loaf of bread and butter the paté was served in a tulip glass and it was a delight. The finely textured chicken liver paté combined delicate, subtle flavours with just the right balance of garlic. And there was enough of it to share.
Carol too had got a mini-loaf with her soup so she was able to taste the paté too. She was most impressed with her soup. She makes a splendid Curried Parsnip ‘winter’ soup, but said the Foresters alternative was lighter and more delicately flavoured and, apparently, it was also plentiful and very good.
For mains I ordered the Chicken Stuffed with Chorizo, Carol went for the Poached Salmon. The other choices were the 10oz Rump Steak (with an upgrade £2 for Sirloin); Goats Cheese and Apricot Bake or Chicken and Ribs.
My chicken was stuffed with chorizo sausage, wrapped in bacon and served up rolled and sliced with new potatoes and Mediterranean vegetables (roasted peppers and aubergine) and garnished with a rich and spicy tomato sauce. The chicken was expertly prepared, firm, moist, done to perfection and the balance of flavours was a triumph. This was seriously good pub grub with more then just a hint of fine dining.
And Carol’s salmon also won rave reviews – a generous serving of fillet, dressed with a pink peppercorn hollandaise sauce, moist, full of flavour it came attractively presented with new potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Another huge success.
And, for once I ventured into pudding territory. There was a choice of Sticky Toffee Pudding and Butterscotch Sauce, Raspberry Sorbet, Apple Pie, Profiteroles and Fresh Strawberries to share.
Carol had the Raspberry Sorbet, again most attractively displayed, which went down a treat. I opted for the Apple Pie. The attentive front of house manager came over to offer his apologies, the pie was off – but I could have Caramel Apple Pie instead. I did, served up with scoops of locally-made ice cream, it was a rare calorific adventure for me, but one that was thoroughly enjoyed.
Judging from our experience, a lot of thought has gone into preparing the extensive range of dishes and desserts on offer at the re-vamped Foresters. Landlord Andy has obviously analysed his potential market and put much serious thought into this new ‘community’ venture, hand picking his team to take it forward.
Certainly judging from our latest experience the prospects seem bright.
There is a lot of competition out there, as I’ve said in this column many times before, we are fortunate in this area that we are blessed with an impressive array of quality places to eat out, but the Foresters has a lot to commend it. Here’s hoping this attractive inn can return to its former glories.
Certainly we will be going back.