Eating in hotel restaurants is often a dicey affair with little to recommend it.
You might be prepared to book a room there but as for eating, forget it! Surely, there must be more adventurous places to choose to dine in?
That has generally been my prejudice with hotel restaurants all too often seen as the failsafe option should nowhere else be open.
But Bagden Hall, Scissett, is a blast of fine dining that evaporates any such doubts.
Strangely enough, although I lived in the village for several years back in the 1990s the closest I got to it was the occasional walk around its grounds, its grand exterior looming in the distance.
My brother-in-law Mindir was happy to pick up his dining fork though slightly amazed when we arrived that a couple had chosen a Monday evening of all nights in the week to stage their wedding night and brought the place to life.
“Who on earth, gets married on a Monday?” he asked me to which I had no sensible answer.
We were soon settled in at the comfortable bar area with our pre-prandial drinks as we waited to be called to our table in The Glendale Restaurant.
Among the glowing citations on one of the walls was an eye-catching, framed review from Alan Lavender, the former head chef at the Prime Minister’s official country residence, Chequers, who has cooked for Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. His review scored it a reassuring 18.5/20.
As it is easily the grandest location in the Huddersfield area – a palatial, 19th century pile set among 40 acres of gardens and grounds complete with its own lake and nine-hole golf course – it was hardly a surprise to find ourselves sat in a splendidly decorated room redolent of a bygone era.
Fittingly, the staff are all smartly dressed with long white gloves and nice, easy manners with no hint of condescension.
Given that it was a Monday evening there were only two other couples enjoying their meals but it’s a different matter on a weekend when it is often fully booked.
There’s just the right number of starters to choose from with everything from pan-fried wood pigeon breast in an apple tarragon puree, garlic mushrooms, red mullet, Mindir’s choice – bresaola – thin slices of cured beef fillet and my own, a delicious leek and potato soup with a warm bread roll.
For mains there was a decent choice ranging from baked cod fillet, tagliatelle, the classic French dish confit de canard and a pan-roasted poussin, a young chicken served with new potatoes and banana shallots.
There was a comic moment when my dish, a superb slow roast crisp belly pork, braised cheek, red cabbage, with a perfect accompanying cider and tarragon sauce, arrived.
At first I couldn’t spot the meat and thought there had been a horrible mistake and I had been served some sort of cheese flan.
Eventually, after staring at the plate in some disbelief for several minutes I worked it all out, the nice bottle of red may have helped, and began to chew my way contentedly through the moist, pink meat with its deliciously crunchy texture.
Mindir was relaxing as the wine worked its magic and tucked in to the bresaola and a rump steak which he gave both top marks.
Mindir doesn’t have a sweet tooth so I ordered a platter of cheese and biscuits for him which of course I dipped into after I had demolished a summer berry Bakewell tart with clotted cream.
In summary he said: “Our waiter arrived and was very polite and elegantly dressed. The large dining room was beautifully decorated and very peaceful even though there were other diners in the room.
“The food was very well cooked and the wine was very reasonably priced at £18 a bottle. I’ve paid a lot more in similar places.
“The staff serving us were friendly and professional. This was a quiet and relaxing place to enjoy a meal and I would definitely recommend a visit.
“The hotel is in a stunning location and I wouldn’t mind returning during the day so I could enjoy seeing the lovely grounds.”
Mr Lavender was not wrong when he said 18.5/20.
It certainly is hard to fault.