DESPITE harsh economic times and the astronomical cost of fuel, many of our readers still enjoy the time-honoured pastime of setting out in the car to discover new eating places.
From their feedback, they are looking for a comfortable restaurant or country pub with excellent food at reasonable prices.
Well, the subject of this week’s review could be just the place for the discerning travelling diner.
Since it opened in May, the Milestone in the centre of Ripponden has quickly established a growing reputation for a wide range of good dishes at surprisingly attractive prices.
Two friends of mine had both recommended the restaurant, whose owners also run the Malthouse at Rishworth and Sun Inn at Lightcliffe. Both are popular, so the owners have obviously discovered an elusive recipe for success. They have also just acquired the Fleece at Barkisland.
From the outside, the Milestone looks like a large old pub, which it probably was. On entering the building, first impressions are favourable.
You arrive in a bar with a stone-flagged floor, to the left is a room with a couple of American-style booths and tables and the larger dining area, where we were seated, is to the right.
The interior is attractive, a mixture of traditional and modern decor, with a convivial atmosphere. In the main dining room, there is an open pizza oven with a chef at work.
There’s a full kitchen through a door to the side. Shaker-style panels and a faux bookcase give the room a homely feel.
I and my dining companion Moira were warmly welcomed by co-owner James.
Moira and her family have quickly become regulars after discovering Milestone this summer.
We ordered a bottle of Languedoc Rousillon sauvignon blanc at £15.95. The 16 wines on the list ranged from £12.95 for a pleno viura Spanish white to £24.95 for a Chablis.
We both felt the wine could have been a little colder and requested ice. James was horrified at our suggestion and promptly took the bottle and half-sipped glasses away to return with a new, much colder bottle. That’s good service in my book.
There was now a 20-minute pause while we perused the extensive menu which included everything from pizza and pasta to fish, seafood, game, steaks, burgers with locally-produced beef and a decent children’s menu which was not full of chicken nuggets and the usual junk. As many ingredients as possible are locally sourced.
A range of food this big often results in a lowering of the quality of the dishes; Jack of all trades, master of none. But this was certainly not the case here. We thoroughly enjoyed everything we ate.
The Milestone has an Early Bird menu from 12 to 6pm on Friday and Saturday and 12 to 9pm on Wednesday and Thursday. At £10 for two courses and £12 for three, this represented unbelievable value for money for this standard of cuisine.
We could both have happily ordered from the Early Bird, but only Moira did.
In the interests of good journalism, I threw caution – and the Examiner budget – to the wind and ordered from the à la carte menu to see if there was much difference.
There wasn’t. Moira’s four large rings of calamari were delicious; tender strips of bright white squid in a light and crispy batter.
This was followed by a small, succulent fillet of roast sea bass beautifully presented on a bed of crushed new potatoes, cherry tomatoes and salsa verde – and all for a tenner!
Other Early Bird mains included any of their unusual pizzas, sausage and mash, spaghetti Bolognese or stew and dumplings.
My six large crevettes (giant prawns) at £7.50 were fresh, succulent and mouthwateringly good, it’s not often they are this tasty.
The generous portion of pink venison steak (15.95) was gorgeous, beautifully cooked with a vibrant, gamey taste.
It probably tasted so fresh as it had only travelled from the Round Green Deer Farm – used by many top regional chefs – in Barnsley of all places.
VERDICT: Good food at reasonable prices and definitely worth the journey. The Early Bird is excellent value for money.