Tag Archives: JW Lees

The Hinchcliffe – Cragg Vale, Hebden Bridge

 “A tucked away gem. My Hinch was well and truly cliffed”

 Whilst plotting a Sunday out in Yorkshire to meet some chums, I stumbled across The Hinchcliffe Arms in Cragg Vale, three and half miles outside Hebden Bridge. To add to my glee I also stumbled on the whereabouts of one of my long time favourite chefs, Robert Owen Brown. He has previously shot and cooked his way through various short lived enterprises in Manchester. He specialises in game.

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The Hinch is set in a glorious, leafy glade deep in the Vale of Cragg, beside an incredible church. It’s a beguiling first impression. Wonderfully understated.

Stepping in there’s a Scottish feel to the place, tartan flooring, simple country trimmings rounded off with glorious open fires. Thankfully they were switched off as it was a hot and humid Hebden today! The Scottish theme continued as our friendly hosts welcomed us with a Scottish lilt.

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We surveyed the beautifully presented menu, bound in tan leather whilst quaffing the Hinch pale ale. The offer is trademark Owen Brown. Seasonal, local, quality. My type of menu.

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We started with new season asparagus, Rob’s own smoked haddock with jersey royals, the crispy black pudding potato cake with a (sadly) hard poached egg, a sensational goats cheese salad and a delightfully, vibrant, fresh garden pea soup. Ranging from £5 to £7 they were all superb. Lightly smoked haddock, tangy goats cheese and tremendous black pudding.

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Two sprightly old dears recommended the sharing platter Sunday roast. Feeds two for £30. I reckon four could have gone away happy! A poussin, three or slices of glorious rare beef and three or four slices of arguably the star of the show, locally reared pork with all the trimmings…..and some ratatouille. Truly incredible. The finest roast Ive had in a long while. The girls had flash fried mackerel and the loin of cod. Both beautifully cooked and presented.

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To finish….what else….Vimto trifle and a scrumptious banana sponge with  a salted caramel and banana syrup.

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As there was four of us, catching up on the news, service was perfect, though I dare say a young couple eager to get home for ‘Love Island’ may have found it a little pedestrian. We were in the there a good two and a half hours. The bill came in at £130, we were all seriously chuffed with our lot. The Hinch is truly a find. The epitome of a country pub, presumably one of JW Lees finest? I cant wait to go back on a full a la carte day to get another fix of the magic of Owen Brown and his team. A definite Cooktwit recommend.

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The Hinchcliffe Country Pub & Restaurant
Cragg Vale,
Hebden Bridge,
West Yorkshire,
HX7 5TA,
+44 1422 883256
ww.thehinchcliffe.co.uk

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NRB 2015 – Manchester Central

“It’s better than the normal trade fairs I go to!”

Not being in ‘the industry’ I managed to bag a ticket for the National Restaurant and Bar Show as an out and out blagger/hanger on. It seemed to work, I was let in and left free to roam around the architectural hangar of Manchester’s great central building without anyone seeming to mind. Within minutes I was slurping a half of JW Lees Manchester Pale Ale, and it was free! I could get used to this.

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The NRB was held across two days March. It was a smorgasbord, a collection, a veritable phalanx of professional outfits looking to win more business in our wonderful world of restaurants and bars. If you’ve ever wondered who it is who supplies those comedy salt cellars, or the gaudy menus, or the neat waitress uniforms, then this is the place you needed to be. It was all there.

The Beer bit
The Beer bit

As well as some of the more abstract items and paraphernalia that’s required to get a restaurant up and running there was of course plenty of other tasters. Lots of food and drink producers were on hand to let you sample the wares. As you might expect the beer section of the scheme seemed to attract a good deal of interest. Craft beers from Liverpool, the aforementioned MPA section, Greene King and a few others all had the pumps set up for testing. The Prosecco stand seemed to be doing well too!

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Purveyors of machinery were on hand to demonstrate how effectively food can be transformed from the raw ingredient to an object of pure joy. I encountered no finer example than at the INKA grill stand. A beautifully seasoned chump of rib eye left the charcoal fed lair with a charred coat and a blood red centre, the baying crowd hoovered up the result as soon as it hit the board. I was there ‘obvs’ 🙂

Inka Grill, meat & beer
Inka Grill, meat & beer

Another of the main attractions for me was the ‘chef live’ area. As the title suggests this was where Chefs cooked something ‘live’. I happened upon up and coming sensation Michael O Hare, or the @hairmetalchef. Young, director and chief of The Man behind the Curtain currently being raved about from its home above Flannels in Leeds. He quipped that he made is mark serving fine food in a rock bar. He looked the part. I reckon with a bit more glitter and make up he could have drummed for The Sweet*, with his long hair and black outfit. He cooked a pork dish with smoked toast, eggs and a few other bits and served it on a slashed canvas with beetroot juice! It looked Like a Tracy Emin art installation, but then again so does most of his stuff. The packed theatre shot up at the end to image and quaff the result. Lots of other chefs were on hand throughout the two days. I was hoping to catch our very own Beef and Pudding chap Dave Mooney but sadly missed it.

Michael O Hare, The Man Behind The Curtain
Michael O Hare, The Man Behind The Curtain

Other smaller areas had demonstrations on fish and butchery as well a large seminar/debate section. Sadly I didn’t get to hear any of these as I had snook out of work on my lunch break. I had hoped to have a good few hours at it but work commitments took over. Maybe next year!

Fish demo
Fish demo

All in all a great event. A true reminder to us hangers on about just what a great industry it is that we all enjoy. To all the restaurateurs out there, keep on cooking!

Veg and menus!
Veg and menus!

*a glam rock group from the 70’s. Google ‘Blockbuster’!