Restaurants make a big play on sourcing their produce locally.
In the case of The Woodman Inn and their beer, it really is a Small World.
For the Thunderbridge hotel and restaurant sells excellent ales brewed by two enthusiasts who literally live within yards of the pub. In fact, they regularly pop in after a hard day’s brewing to sample their own wares.
Small World Beers, based in Barncliffe Mills, Shelley, was set up by two local lads, Dave Hill and Pete Forder, who use their own borehole for the water in their brews.
The Woodman is that sort of a place; it’s an inn which prides itself on being able to offer top-class functions and excellent catering yet still has the feel of a local.
The pub is owned by Leslie Country Inns, father and son Graham and Leslie, and they too have remained local.
The food side of the Woodman has also been enhanced in recent weeks.
It has chalked up its first Michelin guide rating, in the 2016 Pub Guide, and has welcomed a top chef to the team. Michelin star head chef Lawrence Yates has joined the Woodman as a director and will concentrate on the food side of the business.
Over the last decade he has worked in some of the country’s finest Michelin-standard restaurants, including Daniel Clifford’s two-star Midsummer House in Cambridge and, more recently, The Box Tree in Ilkley.
His influence is certain to play a big role in the kitchens in the early part of 2016 but we ventured into Thunderbridge at the end of 2015 to see how the pub is faring. The answer was pretty well.
We picked a night just before Christmas at a time when the hard-working but very cheerful staff and manager Chris McHugh were pushed to the limit.
There was a large wedding party upstairs, two Christmas parties downstairs and a full restaurant.
Chris said it had been that was for days, but it meant the pub had a warm, welcoming and lively feel.
The welcome was warm and inviting, as was the pint of Small World’s Spike’s Gold and a glass of red wine.
There’s a comfortable, cosy feel to the dining area and we settled into our chairs to peruse the menu.
It’s a fairly limited menu and that has both its good points and bad points.
But there was enough variety in there to satisfy most people and some interesting dishes that were out of the ordinary.
That interest was provoked as Linda’s starter arrived. She had picked the beetroot and goat’s cheese salad and was delighted with the multi-coloured selection of beets, both pickled and candied, with a sharp cheese and a tangy orange dressing. Many think of beetroot simply sliced in a pickle jar but it is vastly under-rated and under-used.
It was a good choice but I believe my ham hock terrine had the edge. It was a cracking starter, with an excellent meaty pate and a zesty fig and pear chutney on the side.
Little slices of crispy toast and a fresh salad completed the dish.
We were off to a good start and standards didn’t drop for the main courses.
Linda opted for the slow-cooked pork belly served with braised red cabbage and potato puree. The meat was melt in the mouth tender, if a little on the small side, and the cabbage had a sharp tang to it.
I picked the Yorkshire lamb shoulder and it meant 2-0 to me. The meat was dark on the outside but soft and pink inside and was again complemented by the red cabbage.
Other choices included roast turkey, sea bream or mushroom risotto but I think we chose wisely.
Neither of us felt like anything heavy to follow but in the interests of research we had to try a dessert.
After all, it was included in the price and a Yorkshireman knows the true benefit of spending his brass...
It was a triumph. We shared what was described as a seasonal fruit salad and savoured every last spoonful of a stunning offering of Autumn fruits including raspberries and sharp, plump blackberries with a zingy sorbet and a melt in the mouth meringue.
A fine ending...
Thunderbridge Lane, Kirkburton, HD8 0PY
Tel: 01484 605778
Food time: Mon-Fri: 6.30am-9am, 12-2.30pm,
5pm-9pm; Sat 8-10am,12-9pm; Sun: 8-10am,
12-6pm Children: Welcome
Disabled access: Yes
The bill: £72.90 including drinks
Would you go back? Definitely