Category Archives: food and beer in Yorkshire

Beer & Balls: Yorkshire Meatball Co, Harrogate

IMG_2030We’ve had a couple of days off last week; purely to catch up on home stuff (ie getting ready for our new arrival in late August) and, on a more selfish note, have a couple of days out. Which, as you all would have guessed, mostly involves eating and drinking.

So, we visited Harrogate  – the main reason being our interest in the Yorkshire Meatball Company. In these times of ‘Yorkshire’ everything, it seems (and don’t worry, I know i’m perpetuating that beer angle as much as anyone…), I was genuinely interested to see what this young restaurant had to offer. I mean, who doesn’t like Meatballs? Exactly. But can you base a whole business around them?

The restaurant itself is bedecked in rough wood; light to dark, pine to mahogany, and the welcome was warm and informal. As we perused the menu (which we’ll get onto in a second) our eyes were drawn to the chandeliers; cheese graters and colanders clustered around bare bulbs. Nice touch. Overall, it’s a lovely space to dine in; a little acoustic music in the background, and friendly staff in branded t-shirts giving an attentive yet chummy service. Perfect for lunch.

One major angle that the YMBCo gets right is the provenance of their ingredients; it’s all from Yorkshire. Fish from Ramus. Yorkshire cheeses, wine from Yorkshire Vintners and bread from Hughes. The meat comes from Sykes House Farm and the beer list is provided by Yorkshire Ales.

IMG_2046Yes, there’s a beer list, and perhaps now you can guess that I had an ulterior motives for coming here; I wanted to see what a restaurant with a decent beer list did with it. Well, there’s plenty to choose from; Yorkshire Ales have picked two beers from most of the major beer styles so, if you so wish, you have a decent course-by-course range. You can expect to see beers from Saltaire, Geeves, Great Yorkshire/Cropton, Bradfield, Treboom, Wold Top, and Wensleydale amongst others – plus a smattering of Cider.

So far so good; if you’re a little informed or reccgnise some of the breweries on the list. As it happens, the waiter saw that I was opting for lighter beers and recommended a new arrival from Wold Top (Hello Velo) to guide my hand a little, but perhaps some notes or even recommendations on the menu would be good, too. Still, it was a good shout from our waiter and the kind of thing I want to see; a little helping hand for those who want to try things out.

As we happened to be visiting during the week that a cycle race is coming to the county (really? I wouldnt have known!) there was a slightly truncated menu; served with a Gallic flavour rather than the regular smorgasbord of Meatball delights. We chose beef and pork balls in a Bourguignon sauce; the balls meaty yet succulent, the sauce winey, rich and packed with softly sweet root vegetables, bacon, pearl onions and garnished with mash.

Alongside that, we picked white bean and lemon balls, crumbed and deep fried, sitting in a Provençale sauce with creamed lentils on the side. The balls – crunchy then yieldingly soft, sung with high lemon and fresh coriander notes – kind of like a European falafel, if you will. Where the beef balls were robust and hearty, these bean balls were zippy, light and moreish.

IMG_2042Carried away by the flavour of the food, I ordered a Wharfe Bank Yorkshire IPA for the bean balls; my thinking being that the slightly asian herbing would lend itself to the punchy IPA. It didn’t; the two flavours fought on the palate, cancelling each other out. Instead, Great Yorkshire’s bittersweet Yorkshire Lager (which I’d ordered as an aperitif) cleaned up perfectly; the more neutral flavour scrubbing the palate and readying me for the next course. Lesson learned.

Which was cheesecake. Vanilla cheesecake balls with a raspberry coulis, to be exact. Oh yes.

Now, here’s the thing. If you offer a range of beer – and your guests indulge themselves in it – these little discoveries happen. My smooth, buttery cheesecake, chilled and drizzled with tart berry sauce, were perfectly complimented by the Wharfe Bank IPA. Smooth, strong and carrying and aroma of orange jelly, the IPA’s long, bitter finish lifted all the cream without dominating it, as well as dovetailing nicely with the tart berry. Beer and dessert? Yup, no problem.

So there you have it. A good meal, a beer and food preconception busted – and a resolve to go back and try the full menu. Which, as a new business, is all you can ask for, really. YMBCo also deserve a pat on the back for offering a decent, local beer range, too – hence this post. It fits their ethos, and looks completely natural alongside their menu.

Oh, and in answer to my question at the start around basing your whole business around them, it would appear so. I hear new Yorkshire Meatball outposts will be appearing across the region shortly, so keep your eyes peeled.



Turkey & Brie Turnovers with Gadds’ No 3

These little beauties are a little twist on the classic Turkey and Brie sandwich, and take no time at all to make if you’ve got some pre-made or frozen puff pastry. They’re also a great way to use up leftovers. First, Heat your oven to 200c. Roll your pastry out onto a floured surface, into whatever shape you like – triangles or circles will work best.

Then,take your leftover Roast Turkey or cooked, sliced Turkey, and lay in the middle of the pastry. On top of that lay some thick slices of Brie, and then finish that with some slices of either cooked, cold, bacon, or smoked cooked ham.Fold over the pastry to make your pasty shape, then crimp the edges and egg-wash. Bake until golden, and serve with such treats as Chilli Jam, Spicy Chutney or Sweet Onion Relish.
As for a cheeky beer to wash this down with, Gadds’ No 3 hits the mark. This classic Pale Ale (5%abv) is brilliant-gold in colour, there’s that familiar English-hopped green-earthiness going on on the nose and finish which doesn’t overpower the smoky/sweet food; the beer is bright enough just to cleanse the palate but has a decent enough malt backbone to remain satisfying. Gadds’ beers are generally excellent, and I find No 3 to be a really versatile, simple, beer that goes with a number of dishes. Do check them out if you haven’t done so already.

>Lunch at Sandinista


One of the downfalls of being someone who writes about beer and food in their spare time is that sometimes it’s hard to switch off. It’s hard to simply ‘have a pint’ sometimes – you may think that you’re relaxed and chatting to your mates, but in reality that pint in your hand is being sniffed, examined and the details are being stored in that vault inside your head so that the next time you log onto Blogger you can tell the world what that beer was like, so that other can follow you and create a shared experience via the wonder of the internet.

It creeps up on you in other ways, too. Simply planning somewhere for lunch – especially if it’s somewhere you don’t know – becomes less of an off-the-cuff thing and more of a military operation. There’s news places to go to, your mind implores. Research tells you this place does this beer on tap, or this places’ noodle soup or home-baked bread is out of this world. And forget ‘The Perfect Hand-cut Chip’. You forget that food and drink blogging is subjective, and all of a sudden you can find yourself in a strange place, ordering strange food for the sake of it and not really having fun. In fact, it all seems a little like work. Switching off, I am recently re-discovering, is fun.

On Friday we decided to do a little Christmas shopping. It was a fine, bright but cold winter’s day in Leeds, and we did well to avoid the dreaded ‘Christmas Market’, fast becoming a temporary Sodom for Loiners. Laden with goodies, and feeling very satisfied with ourselves at a stress-free morning, we popped in to Sandinsta for lunch.

I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve been here – it’s a standard – that’s why I don’t write about it. Sandinista’s warm atmosphere, spot-on staff and familiarity was the equivalent of taking of my shoes and putting my feet up in front of a roaring fire. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on tap. Yes please. A quick peruse of the menu flashed up the words ‘Pork Belly Bocadillo’ and I read no more. One of those for me, thanks.

A group of guys came in, ordered identikit Amstels and settled in for some Friday afternoon half-day working beers, all laughs and in-jokes. A regular followed, sitting at the bar and drinking coffee, lazily making conversation with the barman whilst leafing through The Times. Bob Dylan and Cream lilting over the chatter.

The food arrived with a smile, and it was heavenly. Succulent Pork Belly, crispy at the edges and topped with a sweet apple chutney, pressed into a crisp, chewy Ciabatta. Dutch Patatas – cubes of crispy potato smothered in melted cheese and spring onion on the side. Sierra’s legendary Pale Ale giving just the right bite and bitterness to the jammy meat, and all was well. All was very well – the perfect lunch, right there, without even trying. On a whim. Hell, spontaneous even.

I didn’t intend to post about this (hence the hastily taken picture), but Friday’s lunch made me remember all that is good about food and drink. Place, people, and relaxation; just what happens when you let your guard down.

>Bacon & Cheese Toasts


Ahh…BaconCheese…can’t go wrong. Sometimes, you just want something to graze or snack on when enjoying a good pint, rather than a full meal. This easy snack gets rids of those munchies, and really compliments a good, strong bitter.
You will need:
2 large knobs of butter
Bloomer Loaf
Plain flour
Chopped and fried smoked bacon or ham
Wholegrain Mustard
Cheese of your choice – I would go for smoky or strong tasting cheese. Or more than one kind – the choice is yours!! Manchego is very good with this, as is Lincolnshire Poacher. You want something with bite.

1. Ok – first thing’s first – preheat your grill to about 180c.
2. To make a simple béchamel sauce, melt your butter in a pan, and when melted sprinkle flour over it, slowly, stirring or whisking at the same time. The butter will thicken into a paste. At this point, add milk and whisk; but slowly and a little at a time. You want a thick sauce, so don’t add too much milk.
3. To the sauce add two teaspoons of wholegrain mustard, and the cooked bacon.
4. Stir, and then grate in about 100g of cheese.
5. Leave the sauce to combine whilst you slice some big slices of crusty or bloomer bread.
6. Top the bread with the sauce, top again with more cheese (the more the better!!) and then grill for 5-8 minutes. You want the bread to toast around the edges, and the cheese to bubble and melt on top.

Done. Eat at once, with a good, strong bitter – I enjoyed mine with York’s Yorkshire Terrier – Perfectly robust enough to stand up to all that good smokiness from the bacon and cheese. The addition of mustardy béchamel sets this posh toast -topping apart.
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