This week we step back in time to visit a former coaching inn with roots dating back 500 years.
The Golden Fleece at Blackley was first registered as a farm in the 16th century and at some point over the next 100 years, it became a hostelry.
For those unfamiliar with the area, it is just a quick trot from the motorway roundabout at Ainley Top – go straight ahead instead of left or right to the M62.
The pub stood pretty much on its own until 1869 when Blackley Cricket Club moved into the field next door. At that time the land and inn was owned by the Ainley family, who also owned the Wappy Spring Brewery on nearby Lindley Moor Road.
For almost two years now the Golden Fleece has been run by Stacey Cosgrove, a granddaughter of the Broster family, of Brosters Farm Shop, Lindley Moor, fame.
All the meat and fish at the Golden Fleece is supplied by the family business, which guarantees that the beef, pork and lamb is exactly that – no trace of a horse, attached to a stagecoach or otherwise.
Provenance is a word becoming increasingly popular in food circles. And knowing where and how your food is produced is exactly what you get at the Golden Fleece. All their meat comes from Farm Assured producers in Yorkshire, which means your steak can be traced back to the original animal – and it’s a free-range cow.
That and the prices must surely be why the place has become so popular since Stacey took over after working at the New Inn, Sowood, for many years. She has recently opened a new extension, increasing the number of covers to 68.
When we arrived, it seemed every place was taken. It was a sunny Sunday tea-time, the drinkers had spilled out on to the outdoor benches and car park and the traditional interior was packed. Blackley hadn’t been this busy since the brickworks were in full production decades ago.
Despite arriving late, our table was still not ready and we had to queue three deep at the bar to get served.
We sat down ten minutes later and watched the half dozen young staff scurrying around, trying to cope with the capacity demand.
Our quiet meal out wasn’t quite as anticipated. My father had difficulty hearing us (although he does at the best of times), but you can’t fault a restaurant for being popular.
There was an excellent choice of blackboard meals for £5.95. The large, lightly-battered haddock on the next table looked particularly good.
My father ordered the beefburger with chips and, even with his drinks, his meal was a bargain at around £8.50.
The special I ordered arrived with copious strips of fillet steak in a mushroom sauce and a generous portion of rice. Top marks for the wonderfully rich sauce bursting with fleshy mushrooms, which perfectly complemented the fillet. The meat was, however, a little overcooked for me, I would have liked to slice through it like butter.
The 10oz sirloin steak from the grill was good quality, although again overcooked. Ordered rare, it came pink and nearly cooked right through. This we put down to the sheer volume of orders and would give the Fleece another go at a quieter time.
Events definitely worth returning for are the popular steak nights from 5pm to 9pm every Monday to Thursday, where for a mere £22.50 you can enjoy two 8oz sirloins with all the trimmings and a bottle of wine.
If a traditional pudding is your weakness, then this is the place for you. Tangy lemon tart, treacle sponge, meringue nests with strawberries and home-made apple crumble are all on offer for £3.50.
Our homemade ginger pud was the size of a small house surrounded by a lake of custard; it took three of us to finish it.
Lindley Road, Elland HX5 0TE
Tel 01422 372704
Opening hours Normal pub times. Food served Monday 5pm to 9pm, Tuesday to Friday 12 noon to 2pm & 5pm to 9pm, Saturday 12 noon to 9pm, Sunday 12 noon to 8pm
Disabled Access Partial, phone for details
The bill ï¿½15.20 a head including drinks
Would you go back? I’d go back for the steak night