Driving across Baildon Moor’s bleak heathland through swirling mist on a thin January day, I half expect to find The Slaughtered Lamb at the end of the road, with John Naughton and Griffin Dunne about to find their lives changed for ever and not for the better. Where’s Jenny Agutter when you need her? But this isn’t An American Werewolf in London and I must either curb my imagination or adjust my medication.
Baildon Moor and Shipley Glen have been visitor magnets for hundreds of years, and fabulous footage exists (held by the Yorkshire Film Archive www.yorkshirefilmarchive.com) taken around the turn of the century, featuring the Whitsuntide Walks, when mill workers from Shipley, Bingley and Keighley walked up to take the air and sustenance at Old Glen House which was then a popular tea room.
The fog lifts briefly, revealing a solid, imposing building. Not The Slaughtered Lamb then, but Old Glen House which when it wasn’t dispensing tea enjoyed a brief and sober life as a temperance inn. You can still get a cuppa but no-one’s going to slap your wrist if you have a pint. (Timothy Taylor Landlord, since you ask.)
Fearless walkers have braved the elements and are actually sitting outside with their dogs. Blimey, they breed them tough up here. We’re not made of stern enough stuff and enjoy a warm welcome in the flag-floored bar. A couple of steps drop down to a jaw-dropping raftered room with a woodstove set in a lovely old stone fireplace belting out much-needed cheer. Tartan wool banquettes beckon.
Stephen Waterhouse and his partner Claire are among a welcome breed of young entrepreneurs who’ve learned the necessary skills at the coal face before striking out to run their own business. Most recently the head chef at the Crown at Roecliffe, Stephen’s no slouch in the kitchen; his creativity and enthusiasm shine through in more than one regard.
A menu laced with interesting ideas includes home made game terrine with toasted spiced fruit loaf and cranberry relish, salt and pepper squid and smoked haddock and pea fishcakes over curried creamed leeks. I’m tempted but sticky soy belly pork with limes and sesame seeds served over noodles wins. It’s a gorgeous dish, full of flavour and texture.
The homemade soup is vegetable broth. And it’s proper, clear broth, with pearl barley, chunky veg, just the right amount of herbage and nicely seasoned, just like my Auntie Ethel used to make. It’s a post-war dish teleported to the 21st century with a chunk of homemade rosemary bread – just the ticket on a grim, grey day.
Before we set off, I’d scanned their website to see what the veggie options were like for my non-meat eating mate. Hm. Just the one option at lunchtime, so I gave them a call. “No problem” comes the immediate (and correct) response. “We’ll rustle a plate up for you if you don’t fancy what’s on the menu”. If only more chefs were willing to do this.
My main course of Black Bream fillet over king prawns, dill and pea risotto is a phenomenal plate; simply executed, beautifully presented, the fish faultlessly cooked. The luxuriously creamy risotto base is inspired. And a snip at £10.95.
As it happens, Jude is perfectly happy with the vegetarian dish, Primavera risotto: Arborio rice with fresh peas, spring onions and leeks finished with basil pesto. It’s a picture. The colours say spring but the texture is pure winter comfort. The overall effect elicits a groan of pleasure rarely heard (where food’s concerned) as she is routinely underwhelmed by the choices put before her.
We didn’t succumb, but puddings include the likes of poached pear and frangipane tart, homemade raspberry jam and amaretto ice cream and their own sticky toffee pudding with home made ice cream. I really like the look of the sandwich menu too; anywhere with Croque Monsieur on the list demands a second visit by my reckoning.
Back on Baildon Moor, the light’s fading rapidly, the temperature’s dropped like a stone and the fog’s got soupier. But somehow the werewolf vibe has disappeared. Might have something to do with having a full belly and a deep sense of contentment.
Old Glen House, Prop Lane, Shipley Glen, Baildon, BD17 5BN. 01274 597777; www.oldglenhouse.co.uk
Meal for two (two courses each) with soft drinks and coffee: £38.95 Closed all day Monday.