Monday, January 05, 2009

The Ale Trail - Pub Reviews

The Ale Trail - Pub Reviews, as featured in the Yorkshire Post

By Mark Reid, author of ‘The Inn Way’ guidebooks

On the trail of Yorkshire’s great country pubs, where walkers are welcome,
beer is in tip top condition and the food is hearty and wholesome.

New Inn, Eccup, Leeds

A pair of Red Kites soared above the rolling fields of the Harewood Estate, silently circling above woodland copse and hedgerows. These magnificent birds live and breed on the extensive farmland that surrounds Harewood House and Eccup Reservoir, just to the north of Leeds, for this is now one of the best sites in the country to see these birds of prey that, until quite recently, were extinct in England. Also hidden away on the Harewood Estate is the purpose-built Emmerdale village that is used for filming. The estate is criss-crossed by bridleways and footpaths, with routes passing near the fictional Emmerdale village as well as around Eccup Reservoir. And with a bit of careful planning, your walk may also pass the New Inn at Eccup.

An overnight heavy snowfall had given way to clear skies and a gradual thaw, ideal winter walking conditions. With cold fingers and toes, I arrived at the New Inn just in time – another minute spent watching those Red Kites would have meant no lunch for me. The first thing that struck me was the warmth, for just across from the bar was a glowing coal fire set in a stone fireplace; very welcoming. There was only one other couple in the bar, who told me that the pub is usually full of walkers. I ordered my soup and half of Tetley’s Bitter (£2.25 per pint) and sat down next to the fire. The beer was well-kept and flavoursome with the distinctive slightly sulphurous ‘Tetley’ tang quite noticeable. Tetley’s always tastes best in Leeds, and my first sip brought memories flooding back. When I left university back in 1990 I got a graduate trainee job with Allied Breweries and was based at Joshua Tetley & Son in Leeds. Those were the days when Leeds was Tetley’s heartland where almost every pub sported the famous huntsman logo. Horse-drawn drays delivered cask beer to the city’s pubs, and the bitter was probably the best of its kind produced by a national brewer. How things have changed. Leeds without Tetley’s Brewery? Unthinkable, but by 2011 a reality.

Whilst I was waiting for my soup the dance music coming from the speakers suddenly changed to Christmas carols. I would have preferred some peace and quiet whilst I lamented Tetley’s demise. My bowl of homemade mushroom and chestnut soup (£2:25) soon arrived, piping hot and extremely thick – I could almost stand my spoon up in it! It had a subtle mushroom flavour, and an even more subtle chestnut flavour, but was hot and filling, especially with the half baguette that came with it. A specials board by the bar offered plenty of choice in addition to the lunchtime and evening menu, all reasonably priced.

It is a friendly and traditional country pub that even boasts a tap room, a rarity nowadays. The decor is a tad tired, but I felt quite at home in my walking gear and boots sat by the coal fire with my Tetley’s and soup.

New Inn, Eccup Lane, Leeds, LS16 8AU. Tel: 0113 288 6335

Opening Hours:
Open Mon – Fri 12 ‘til 3pm, 5pm ‘til 11pm; Sat & Sun all day.
Food served Mon – Fri 12 ‘til 2pm and 6 ‘til 9pm, Sat 12 ‘til 9pm, Sun 12 ‘til 5pm.

An extensive and reasonably priced menu including homemade steak & ale pie (£7:45), haddock in homemade batter (£7:45) and 16oz T-bone steak (£11:45)

Real Ales
Choice of three hand-pulled ales including Tetley’s Bitter (ABV 3.7%), Timothy Taylor’s Landlord (ABV 4.3%) and Old Speckled Hen (ABV 4.5%).

Walkers Welcome?
Walkers and dogs welcome (in the tap room). Outside, there is a large patio and children’s play area.


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