COMPACT and bijou is a perfect description of Holmfirth’s Les Caveaux.
In fact, if you were walking around Summer Wine town searching for a good place to eat, you could actually miss it.
Les Caveaux is tucked away on the corner of Victoria Square you have to negotiate some pretty perilous steps to get to it – easier before you have consumed the food and wine than afterwards when high heels, good humour and a couple of glasses of rosé may hamper your progress.
All that apart, it would be shame to miss out on this lovely eatery which has long been a favourite of locals.
Dining can be either upstairs or downstairs, both equally cosy.
And what it lacks in size it certainly makes up for in atmosphere. You will be welcomed by young but attentive staff who will help make it a night to remember.
And what to choose? There is lots on offer. Tapas can be a positive or disappointing experience. Tapas is a wide variety of appetisers or snacks in Spanish cuisine served to encourage conversation by diners rather than eating an entire meal set before them.
Women on a rare night out rarely need an excuse to talk and my three dining mates were no exception.
With birthdays to celebrate, husbands to dissect and offspring to chastise we were in for a long night, and what an evening we had.
There is a large and extensive menu from which to make your selections but rather than dictate we decided to let chef make our selections.
For £19.50 a head you will be brought what seems to be a never ending array of goodies and you can specify whether you prefer more meat, fish or vegetables in the dishes that are served at your table.
We were offered, and accepted warm herb bread and aioli to nibble with our wine before the dishes started to arrive.
Then the feast commenced and what a feast it was. As the dishes arrived I almost expected bunches of grapes, coronets of leaves and togas, such was the experience.
It almost took on a Romanesque feeling, or was that the bottles of rosé which had been consumed by then? I’ll let you decide.
To the dishes: there was Greek salad with sweet red onions and salty feta, pitta bread with hummus, which needed a touch more seasoning, plump and flavourful asparagus with a lemony dressing. Yum yum.
My vegetarian principles often cause problems when we dine out, but not here.
We also enjoyed artichoke hearts and red peppers with cheese, a vegetable tortilla, juicy flat mushrooms and goats cheese on a bed of cous cous and creamy dauphinoise potatoes, sliced and seasoned to perfection.
The carnivores in my midst were not disappointed by clams in white wine and red pesto, chicken skewers and sea bass in a lemon sauce, which was pronounced slightly too fishy.
The staff quite cleverly bring dishes just as plates are cleaned from the last morsel and it all makes for a congenial and relaxing atmosphere.
Also on the ample menu there was: King Prawns in filo pastry, Thai crab cakes, mixed cold tapas meat, chorizo and potatoes with paprika, Mexican beef burrito with cheese, Thai red chicken curry with noodles, and deep fried Brie with rhubarb and ginger chutney, to name just a few.
It was a cacophony of flavours from every corner of the world.
We were full to bursting but if we had been really greedy and more wine and dancing hadn’t beckoned we could have sampled naughty dark chocolate torte, meringues with raspberries, plum and date pudding with toffee sauce or ice cream for desert or even shared one plate with a selection of them all.
Instead we were treated to an ad hoc night cap of sambucca flambe, attractively served in the centre of our table and providing something of a spectacle for the birthday girls and other diners in Les Caveaux.
As ever it was a fantastic girlie evening, good food and lots of wine, peppered with conversation, soul searching and heart wrenching which only long standing friends can do.
Dancing followed and what could have been a long walk home, although a trusty chauffeur I know was able to provide a professional service which saved four girls soles from any further damage. Thanks teddy.
Lex Caveaux is undergoing a refurbishment by the new owner Tom Binns and they re-open on Tuesday.
11a and b Victoria Square, Holmfirth HD9 2DN
Tel: 01484 689003
Opening hours:Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 6pm until late
Disabled access: Problematic due to steep stone stairs
The bill: £130.50 for four. Tapas £19.50 a head (£78) and drinks £52.
Would you go back? Definitely