Squidbeak have eaten well this year and so we bring you our Christmas round up, in no particular order, of the best bars, cafes and restaurants of 2015. Thank you to all our followers, thanks for sending in your tips and recommendations, keep them coming.
Black Swan, Oldstead
We’ve been here at various stages of its development but have never been more blown away than by the sheer class of the latest regime with Tommy Banks at the helm, especially his fabulous use of fruit and veg from his ever-evolving veg patch. This is truly original, exciting food.
A winning combo of craft beer from the lads at the well-respected Bradford real ale mecca Sparrow and Gujerati ‘small plates’ from Mayur Patel of the peerless Prashad dynasty. What could be better than a pint of Northern Monk and a couple of tubs of gutsy curry and when its crammed and noisy you just know you’ve come to the right party.
The Garden Gate, Leeds
At the risk of overusing iconic .. this amazing old pub defines the word. Dire Straits Mark Knopfler lead the campaign to rescue it in the 1980’s and thank goodness he did. It’s in a curious spot, in the middle of a housing estate in south Leeds, but inside find Burmantoft tiles, stunning etched glass and burnished mahogany woodwork and great beer, including Marston’s King of Swing, Leeds Brewery Pale Ale and Yorkshire Blonde.
Man Behind the Curtain, Leeds
We told you how highly we rated Michael O’Hare’s cooking when he was at the Blind Swine in York. We were there again for his opening night in Leeds and he wowed us once more. Dont go there for troughing out, but do go for some amazing taste combinations, surreal presentation and a huge lot of fun. More an experience than a meal. But still a great dinner.
Mannion & Co, York
Mannion’s is where we head in York when we want really good coffee, a cake or a substantial sandwich and/or a charcuterie plate to share. Its a deli, takeaway and bakery run by ex-Star Inn chef Andrew Burton in partnership with his in-laws who have long run a fruit and veg stall in York market. Never hits a bum note.
Three Pigeons, Halifax
I’m ashamed to say I visited this extraordinary listed Art Deco pub for the first time this year; Ossett Brewery rescued it ten years ago and brought it back to its glorious heyday. It’s got three cosy rooms radiating off the drinking lobby, original terrazzo floors and stylish metal ribbon signage on the doors and cask marque ale from the Ossett Brewery of course. Expect a warm welcome and a roaring fire.
For a long time we couldn’t find much to recommend in Harrogate; now it’s booming. One of our best discoveries this year was Stuzzi, an Italian deli and bistro opposite the Conference Centre, run by a team of ex-Salvo lads. Salvos loss is Harrogates gain with good meat, pasta, terrific bread and cakes and decent coffee.
Swine that Dines, Leeds
Wow, this place was a revelation when I went in November with an eager young food writer Tom McKenzie who runs an Instagram review site called @apairofdirtypigs. We invited him to write it up for Squid, so here it is, a café that upgrades on Friday and Saturday nights to a restaurant with a blackboard of original, exciting and international dishes at ridiculously good prices.
Vine House Cafe, Helmsley
It’s closed now for winter, but on the first sunny day in April make haste to Helmsley Walled Garden and the Vine House Café where you can sit outside in the first rays of spring sunshine or in the vine house itself. Lunch on salads made from the garden produce or barbecued and slow-cooked meats from William (ex-Moro) Mowbrays Big Green Egg before strolling round the beautiful garden with Helmsley castle as your backdrop.
An East Yorkshire restaurant serving terrific food which somehow falls under the radar despite moving up the Good Food Guide ratings. John Robinson is a talented and uncompromising chef and our latest visit found him on top form again. Weve only tried his four course menu but theres a nine-courser for £50 too if thats your thing.