In a packed market place, Dave Lee finds Farthing’s Steak Emporium in Beverley is ahead of the game.
North Bar Within has offered the most concentrated stretch of eateries in Beverley for some years now. This ancient thoroughfare – which makes up the majority of the town’s Georgian Quarter - gives you a choice of Thai, several Italians, Chinese, a sort-of Mediterranean/English place as well as some coffee shops and bistros.
One of the most encouraging things about the street is that only one chain restaurant has managed to insinuate itself amongst all the locally-owned operations. It’s a Pizza Express and it became the unwitting creator of it’s own competition when former front-of-house Adam Farthing decided he couldn’t hack the confines of corporate catering and started his own eponymous steak house a few doors up the way.
The name Farthing’s Steak Emporium may either sound pretentiously grand or like the cheese shop in the Monty Python sketch, depending on your point of view, but the restaurant is actually a lovely, light, airy, long, single room with a kitchen at the far end and a cosy garden to the side.
There is deliberately mismatched furniture, dozens of varied pictures and frames on the walls and a comfy front lounge, all illuminated by a wonderful skylight halfway down the building. It’s a great room to house a restaurant.
The menu had only been in place a matter of hours when we took to a bench in the garden with beer and olives to see what we fancied. I later learned that, 48 hours before, Adam had forsaken his long-term menu in favour of one re-written every week (or fortnight, he hadn’t yet decided) to allow him to make the best use of seasonal ingredients and react quickly to customer feedback.
Compared to the extant menu on the restaurant’s website, the new selections have taken a definite smokehouse hue. Words like ‘sticky’, ‘BBQ’ and ‘smoked’ seem to have proliferated on menus everywhere in the past couple of years and the new offerings are no different.
There are notable exceptions, though. Pan fried Cornish sardines, crayfish cocktail and fillet of sea bass ensure not everything on offer has been adulterated by currently-trendy cooking techniques imported from the Deep South.
We decided to share some starters of sticky treacle BBQ chicken wings, which were indeed sticky and treacly as well as being very nice; a basket of nachos covered in jalapenos, melted cheese and shredded home smoked BBQ brisket, which was a moreish twist on an old standard and – best of all – a stack of beef tomato, goat’s cheese and black pudding. Topped with a balsamic glaze the dish proved a deliciously claggy, crumbly, juicy treat which would have been spoiled by a single duff ingredient, but luckily there wasn’t one.
Before the main course we tried to order more drinks but this proved something of a chore. Although we visited on a quiet-ish Monday night, the staff seemed a little overworked all night. At least, I think they were as that would explain them rarely venturing into the garden to check on us or take drink orders. They did, though, seem to have the uncanny ability to arrive the millisecond before I stood up to look for one of them when the wait became annoying. It happened more than once and was a shame as, when they did arrive, the staff were marvellous and friendly.
Being a ‘steak emporium’ you would expect the steaks to be good and the fillet steak that arrived was an absolute cracker – moist, perfectly seasoned and cooked like a dream. The chips were rugged and soaked up the juices superbly.
As disappointing as the steak was impressive was the whole baked lobster in garlic and herb butter. I may have been foolish ordering a lobster when they’re not in the height of the season, or expecting a decent sized specimen for £27.95, but I’m struggling to describe the four half-thumb sized pieces of meat I managed to extract from the underwhelming crustacean presented to me as anything other than poor. The body offered no flesh at all and so my main course consisted of barely enough meat to fill a matchbox and some garlic and herb soaked chips. I have seldom been so crestfallen. Or felt so cheated.
Lovely puds of chocolate fudge cake and a chocolate tart cheered me up a bit, made as they are by TC Patisserie (Beverley’s own authentic French posh pud shack) and I am happy to write off the whole lobster episode as a bad night on the seafood front because everything else was so good.
Had I not had the lobster, the bill would have come in just under £100 for a lot of food and ample drink.
The Emporium won’t break the bank, but it’s not quite cheap enough for me to label it a hidden gem. What it is, though, is a very decent addition to Beverley’s culinary scene.
Adam knows how to run a tight ship and how to keep his menu filled with enough tempting offerings to ensure that you want to return to try a couple more.
Farthing’s Steak Emporium, 3 North Bar Within, Beverley HU17 8AP. 01482 888868, www.farthings.co.uk. Open: Monday, Friday, Saturday 11.30am to 10.30pm; Tuesday and Wednesday, 5pm to 10.30pm; Sunday, 11.30am to 9pm.