THE weather was far from Mediterranean!
It was a cold spring evening, with temperatures hovering just above freezing and a cold rain lashing down through the murky gloom. Definitely more barmy than balmy.
Yet the second we stepped inside the warmth and vitality of Carniceria in the middle of Holmfirth, we felt transported; to a fun place, almost like a relaxed holiday hideaway.
The bar was bustling and noisy, with laughing groups jostling for space around the sturdy, traditional wooden tables or alongside the narrow bar.
It was still early yet many had obviously determined to push away the gloom of an English spring evening and enjoy a little bit of La Continent in the deepest Holme Valley.
Carniceria sits nestled away in a corner of Victoria Square, at the foot of Dunford Road; slap bang in the middle of Holmfirth yet many miles away in style.
It’s a fun place, with a mixed crowd of young and old, out for a good night.
So, too, were we but with a brief to taste the food which has earned the establishment a fine reputation.
Owners Ian Roberts and Sheila Sutton, who also have the popular Nook pub down the adjoining alleyway, have run the business for the past nine years.
Chef Owen Macpherson joined 18 months ago and between them, the team have maintained very high standards.
We’d phoned earlier in the evening and managed to reserve a table, which is not always possible on a Saturday night.
We collected drinks at the bar, although I suppose my pint of bitter should have been something long and cool and on the rocks, and were left to wander through to the restaurant at the back at our leisure.
The restaurant part is spread over two floors, with an eclectic mix of furnishings. We chose a table in the corner of the downstairs room, admiring the subdued, mellow tones with which the owners have transformed the traditional old Yorkshire building into a little corner of Spain. It was busy but not crowded and there was time to chat as we perused the menu.
Carniceria has a classic menu but is also noted for its tapas selection and as we were in Rome (or Madrid) we thought we ought to do as the Romans (or rather Spaniards) do. So tapas it was but as novices, we were guided by the helpful waiter.
“Are you very hungry?” he queried as we made our selections. “We usually recommend two or three dishes per person”.
That meant a rethink of our eight choices!
We ditched the chicken and peppers and settled on a variety of meat, fish and vegetable dishes from the 30 or so in front of us.
Other diners, too, had chosen tapas and we watched as plates were brought out to other tables, trying to guess what each might be.
Then it was our turn and we soon had a table groaning under the weight of seven dishes! I now know why they suggest two per person.
Our choices, in no particular order, were: spicy meatballs in tomato sauce, crispy roast belly pork with roasted vegetable, duck rillettes with toast, peppered red mullet, smoked haddock and spring onion fishcakes with sweet chilli sauce, potatoes bravas and a Greek salad.
I have to admit - the salad was a step too far!
Each dish came with its own accompaniments such as salad leaves, onions, a few mixed peppers and we soon realised that here was a veritable banquet.
The pork was superb - soft, pink flesh with super crispy crackling on top.
The meatballs had a hint of spice but not overwhelming, while the duck was interesting if a little bland.
The red mullet, a first for both of us, was mild and unusual while the fishcakes were superbly textured and seasoned.
We felt we did the huge repast justice, although I’m sure I caught a little glimpse of “Told you so” when the waiter cleared away the odd remnant left on our plates.
A great feast.
VENUE Carneceria Cafe Bar, 3 Victoria Square, Holmfirth
TEL 01484 681568
DISABLED Access to bar and downstairs restaurant
CHILDREN Made very welcome
THE BILL- £44.40 for two with drinks
WOULD YOU GO BACK Definitely