There's a howling gale outside and hailstones are rattling the window behind me.
But I’ve got a pint of Golden Warrior, from Slaithwaite’s Empire Brewery, close at hand and I’m about to tuck into a starter of black pudding and poached egg in a warm and cosy pub.
Oh and thanks to the Examiner, it’s not costing me a penny!
This eating out lark is not always such a pleasant experience. I’ve been in some restaurants and some pubs where the only thing you may want to eat is a bag of salt and vinegar crisps. Equally, some of the places we get to dine in are excellent examples of the genre.
The Bridge, in Holmbridge, falls very much into the latter category.
It’s been a pub for an awful long time but the latest incarnation, which opened after a major and costly revamp just over a year ago, is a very impressive addition to the successful pubs dotted down the Holme Valley.
There’s a lot of history in the building, which is in a Grade II listed former weaver’s cottage, right on the main A6024 Woodhead Road which snakes its way though Holmbridge, past the cricket club and St David’s Church before heading on up to the top of Holme Moss.
That’s the route the world’s elite cyclists took on July 6 last summer when the Tour de France hit town and there’s a stunning photograph of the riders racing past the front of The Bridge on the wall above our table in the restaurant.
It’s open plan on the ground floor, with the expansive bar at one end, a sociable drinking area in the middle and the cosy dining area beyond a central fireplace.
A bitingly-cold January night is perhaps not the best way to tempt diners out from the armchair but as we’re shown to our table, only one of the other tables in the room is empty. The room is filled with light and warmth and there’s an eclectic mix of furniture and ornaments.
We’d been given a warm welcome by the young and smartly-dressed men at the bar and ordered that pint of Golden Warrior and a large red before being shown to our table.
The menu is, thankfully, not overly expansive and is divided into sub sections labelled Bridge Classics, Signature Sandwiches and Simply Good Sandwiches.
There are eight starters on the menu, with two more on the specials board, and there’s one or two unusual ones in there including Spanish pork skewers and Chunky Camembert.
Linda decides she likes the sound of the fusion duo of King Prawn Lollipops, and it comes with the shellfish marinated in tangy chilli, lime and ginger, and a second in roasted garlic butter, all served on a fresh but small salad.
I toyed with the idea of the pork and also the garlic wild mushrooms but in the end chose the special of black pudding. What a great idea! It was a rich and earthy pudding, as far removed from the greasy slice served up in some establishments as it is far to get, and was covered with a slice of crispy bacon, a poached egg and a mustard and cream sauce.
Main courses include classic pub grub such as bangers and mash, a steak pie, lasagne and fish and chips, even though the latter are labelled in Tyke style as fish n finerks.
I opted for the gammon steak, simply because it came with hand-cut chips and I always believe you can judge a place by its chips. I wasn’t disappointed; these fine fellows stacked at the side of the plate were crisp on the outside and fluffy inside, and soaked up the salt and vinegar well. The steak had a slight honey glaze and was joined with a stack of crispy onion rings. The dish also promised a sweet and sour apple stuffed with mixed peppers and that was the one disappointment, although that was down to personal taste rather than quality of the food.
Linda picked Hunter’s Chicken or chicken cacciatrore and was rewarded with an earthenware pot stuffed full of chicken thighs and a drumstick, baby onions, celery and carrrots in a tangy tomato sauce. No chips or potatoes, which were available as sides, but three good hunks of warm wholemeal bread which were given the dunking treatment.
Service was very friendly and efficient and all in all, it was a treat to venture out on a wild, wild night.
Woodhead Road, Holmbridge, GD9 2NQ.
Tel: 01484 687652
Food serving times: Monday: Closed. Tuesday-Thursday: noon-2.30pm and 5.30pm-8.30pm. Friday: noon-2.30pm and 5.30pm-9pm. Saturday: noon-9pm. Sunday: noon-7.30pm.
Children: Welcome as are dogs
Disabled access: Ramp available
The bill: £49.75 inc drinks
Would you go back? Already in diary