It’s not often that I blog about places in Yorkshire. I’m lucky enough to have eaten at more restaurants and pubs than I can begin to count, as Marcus’ parents don’t cook (besides pie and chips and the odd roast dinner!) so every time we go up North we’re guaranteed to be taken out for dinner, but generally we end up at local pubs which are lovely, but very few stand out enough for me to feel it warrants a post.
Recently though, we were lucky enough to visit a lovely seafood restaurant that Marcus’ mum had been telling us about for ages – I absolutely love seafood and because of Marcus’ preferences I think the only seafood restaurant we’ve ever been to is Loch Fyne! After many failed attempts at getting a table, one weekend we finally planned far enough in advance to get a booking! The Holmfirth site (the one his parents had been to previously) was fully booked but we managed to get in at their other restaurant in West Vale, where I had the most incredible chimichurri prawns and fish and chips.
The fish and chips in particular were incredible – I may be biased but the North blows the South out of the water when it comes to fish and chips, and these were probably the best I’ve had aside from Magpie in Whitby. Fried in beef dripping they had such a distinctive and full flavour, the batter was crispy and golden brown (no part of it was soggy – a serious achievement for a fish that size) and the fish was firm and flakey. The chips too were delicious – packed full of flavour, fluffy in the middle and fried to perfection without being too salty or greasy. I must admit that while I love chips (who doesn’t!?) I’ve actually never been a fan of chip-shop chips – I generally find them soggy (yes admittedly getting them wrapped up in newspaper to takeaway doesn’t help!), limp and altogether pretty tasteless – even drowned in salt and vinegar they’re often pretty nondescript. These though, were incredible. I’m assuming it was the beef dripping but whatever it was, they were off the charts good. Oh, and did I mention how big it was!? For me there’s nothing more disappointing than ordering fish and chips and being given the tiniest slither of flat fish – no matter how crispy the batter is or how amazing the chips are, if there isn’t a good piece of fish nothing can redeem it!
I posted a picture on my social media and to my surprise I was contacted by their lovely marketing manager who was kind enough to invite me down to try their other restaurant. I rarely go home – in fact most years if I make it back once besides Christmas it’s a lot but by chance (fate, obviously!) I had my first trip home of the year planned for just a couple of weeks later. I was so excited to take my parents there – my mum loves seafood and I knew my dad would love the fish and chips if they were even half as good as the ones I was served!
Their Holmfirth site is the second of three restaurants, which opened exactly one year on from opening their first site at West Vale in August 2016. All three restaurants have an extensive a la carte menu with something for everyone – even non-fish lovers! If you’re after fish and chips, they offer the full works including standard and king sizes, fishcakes, king prawn scampi and all of the true fish and chip sides – they even have gravy and curry sauce! Despite offering the full takeaway experience, the atmosphere and the rest of the menu is nothing like it. Mains include a stunning seafood grill, featuring market-fresh fish and shellfish or simply select a fish with a garnish and a sauce (their gnocchi with peas, clams and chorizo is to die for!). On top of that they have more innovative dishes – a thai red fish curry (I’ve never had a fish curry but I was seriously tempted by this!), a fish pie or seafood thermidor. For those who don’t fancy fish, there’s tortellini, a veggie thai curry or a beef burger, all of which sounded equally enticing and I’d have been more than happy to eat those too!
As if their menu isn’t extensive enough, they also serve daily specials every evening to make your decisions about what to order even more difficult! Some of the dishes I’ve seen featured included king scallops, octopus ceviche and a halibut fillet with mussel veloute, courgette, samphire and confit potato.
Admittedly desserts the first time we visited left a bit to be desired – sticky toffee tasted a little burnt and dessert was barely warm.. whilst I don’t expect puddings to all be made fresh at the very least a sticky toffee pudding should be piping hot! Strangely my ice cream had managed to melt into a giant puddle by the time it arrived at our table though despite the fact that the pudding was barely warm.
The chocolate brownie was good – it was more cake-like but it tasted nice, but the knickerbocker glory was the strangest one I’ve ever tried. There wasn’t a peach, glacé cherry or other syrupy tinned fruit in sight – it was more like a Black Forest gateau sundae, with chocolate brownies and a mountain of raspberry compote in there, with enough seeds to grow raspberries for a small village. I like brownies but they have no place in a knickerbocker glory and I’m not a fan of raspberry compote when it’s so seedy that it’s impossible to eat.
The second time we went though was absolutely perfect – completely flawless. I’d have expected all of the dishes to be the same but small changes made all the difference. At the Holmfirth site, the bar area has high tables tucked into little areas that seem so intimate and cosy. Although the restaurant itself was full I’d have been more than happy to eat in the bar area again – it had a lively atmosphere whilst still being more than quiet enough for you to have a relaxing meal. This time I decided to go all out and order the seafood platter.. best decision ever! Just look at it! It came piled high with smoked salmon, prawns, prawn cocktail, battered fish, calamari, salad, garlic and rosemary focaccia and various dips (soy, aioli and sweet chilli I think, but I’ll admit I didn’t touch them – everything was just so tasty that I didn’t need them!). If I’m being particularly fussy I’d rather that the focaccia was soft (it came toasted – so I asked for butter instead of olive oil!) but other than that it was incredible. I also tried my parent’s scallops and pork belly, both of which were also delicious – the scallops were sweet and seared to perfection and the pork belly was unbelievably tender.
For mains I went for the whole lobster with seafood and shellfish linguine, but of course I couldn’t resist ordering a side of their beef dripping chips. I hadn’t bene able to stop thinking about them since the first time I’d had them and they were every bit as good as I remembered – crispy outside, fluffy inside and packed full of flavour. I was tempted to go for the clam, pea and chorizo gnocchi, as I’d had it before at West Vale and loved it, but my mum was ordering that and I knew she’d leave almost all of it.. tactical 😉
The lobster was cooked to perfection and it was served with an absolute mountain of linguine. The pasta came al dente, with a salty, creamy seafood sauce – a perfect match. My mum (who, as always was already full after her starter!) went for halibut with the gnocchi. Admittedly it was a sizeable portion of gnocchi – she started offloading some of it off on me as soon as her plate was set down on her and see her final ‘finished plate of food’ (second picture below) for what I was left with (no complaints!). I’ve only once had gnocchi at a restaurant (in Rome) as it’s not something I’d often choose over other things but this was delicious. Chewy and comforting with a rich and creamy sauce – a perfect match for the firm, flaky halibut. I’m not actually sure if I’ve ever had halibut before but I was shocked at how much I loved it – despite looking a lot like cod (which I generally find to be pretty bland), it had a much fuller flavour and a firmer texture – heaven!
My dad was so cute – he was so excited about the fried stuff as it was, let alone when I told him how incredible they were! He ended up going for the king prawn scampi purely because he wanted me to be able to try something different sicne I’d already had the fish and chips.. but it turned out to be a seriously good decision. Their scampi is unreal. I’ve only had scampi a handful of times as I usually go for fish but my parents are scampi lovers and they wouldn’t stop raving about how it was the best they’d ever had! The prawns were juicy, pink and absolutely massive – I honestly think they were bigger than most prawns you get when you order them alone for a starter at some restaurants! – and the batter was their usual perfectly light, crisp, golden tempura batter, again with that distinctive beef dripping flavour. I couldn’t hide how much I loved it and of course he insisted on letting me share – he’s quite literally one of the most selfless people I know – he’d go hungry if it meant everyone else was happy!
For dessert my mum was well and truly stuffed. She tried to encourage us to order the cheesecake but my dad is ice cream obsessed and I knew he’d have his heart set on the knickerbocker glory! He rarely orders dessert except when there’s an ice cream sundae on the cards. I warned him that it wasn’t a typical knickerbocker glory (and I also warned him how huge it was!) but in the end it was actually nothing like the one that Marcus’ parents had ordered – it came in a much more modest sized glass but it was full of juicy cherries and creamy vanilla ice cream, without the strange seedy compote and brownies present in theirs. I personally preferred this one and my dad loved it too 🙂
Much as I wanted to appease my mum, I couldn’t resist the almond tart – I love a good almond tart! The base was crisp and buttery and the tart was filled with a beautifully sweet, moist (sorry!) almond sponge, which was so dense it was almost blondie-like! I swapped out the clotted cream for ice cream and the whole plate came drizzled with honey and toasted flaked almonds. In my opinion it didn’t need the honey but the rest of the dessert was absolutely perfect.
Of the two restaurants, the Holmfirth one was my favourite. The quality of the seafood and the cooking at both is faultless, but the more modern and spacious interior at the Holmfirth site made it a nicer dining experience overall, and their bar area is beautiful! Whichever you visit you’re guaranteed to have an excellent meal though – I’m honestly astonished that they’ve managed to combine such refined dining and stunning plates of food with some of the best takeaway fish and chips I’ve ever had – two completely different concepts that they’ve managed to fit perfectly together. I honestly can’t recommend this restaurant enough. My parents absolutely loved it, their daily specials mean I’ll never struggle for choices for what to order and for sure it’ll be a staple that we’ll return to time and time again when I’m back up!
Catch West Vale has also recently been nominated for The British Takeaway Awards, which we won last year under Best Takeaway – Yorkshire. Voting is now open again at www.thebtas.co.uk
Link to their website: http://catchseafood.co.uk