It’s been several years since I last dined at The Pledwick on Barnsley Road near Wakefield, so a recent change of ownership was all I needed to persuade me to go back there – oh, that and a deadline to meet for TopicUK Magazine who asked me to write a review.
Anyone who has travelled along the A61 Barnsley Road will be familiar with the pub. Despite having been extended over the years, the core of the building dates to the early 1830s when a much earlier pub, The Bull, was demolished and the Pledwick Well Inn erected in its stead. The name, of course, refers to the ancient well to be found in the grounds. As part of the parish of Sandal Magna (which is mentioned in the Domesday Book), the settlement at Pledwick goes back to at least medieval times. (The suffix ‘wick’ in a place name can often indicate Anglo-Saxon origins and has been ascribed various interpretations including that of farm, hamlet or settlement.) We do know that the pub was one of the lots offered for sale when the Kettlethorpe Hall estate was put up for auction in 1908 with the auction catalogue referring to the pub as “the well-known Pledwick Hotel”.
Since then, there have been numerous changes of ownership and licensee, the latest being in the spring of 2019 when it was taken over by The Little Acorn Pub Company, a Wakefield-based enterprise established by the Crecraft family. It was director Anna Crecraft who invited me over to have a look at what they’ve done with the place.
The Pledwick stands some three miles outside Wakefield city centre and will prove popular with both residents from the Sandal area and with people visiting the nearby Newmillerdam with its lake and countryside walks. I’m told that Sunday lunches at the pub are particularly popular.
If you’re travelling by car, you’ll be interested to know that the pub has a large car park. Entry to the building today is via a side door off the car park, the original front entrance having long since being closed off and replaced with a window. On entering The Pledwick, you find yourself in the bar area, which has a distinctly cosy, cottage-like feel, with a large fireplace and comfy seating. Walk through the bar area and you’ll find the dining area. It’s all open plan, so you can see who’s in and, if you like people watching, you can keep an eye on all the comings and goings. There’s also a large outdoor terrace where, in more clement weather, it would have been nice to sit out overlooking the garden, but it was a quiet Tuesday evening in November 2019 when my partner and I arrived at The Pledwick and there was a smack of winter in the air, so we hastened inside.
The pub looked inviting and we received a warm welcome from barman Brandon, our waiter Richard and bar manager Alex. Once our orders for drinks and food were placed, I took the opportunity to have a look around. The establishment boasts over 12 cask ales and draught lagers, as well as bottled beers & fine wines and a generous selection of spirits which includes many craft gins and premium cocktail ingredients.
Now, I do need to flag up that, at the time of our visit, there were changes afoot! The Pledwick had appointed a new chef who was due to start just a couple of weeks after we were there, and a new menu was in the offing. What follows, therefore, applies to the menu we sampled – do check the website for details of the current menus. If the food is as well presented as it was when we visited (and I’m sure it will be!), then you’ll not be disappointed.
Being vegetarians, we always like to see a range of vegetarian options – having one vegetarian choice which never changes isn’t really offering a ‘choice’ – and with the increasing number of vegetarian and vegan diners, all restaurants need to think about the variety of dishes they serve. It was pleasing therefore to see that the evening à la carte menu offered three vegetarian ‘light bites and sharing dishes’ and a similar number of vegetarian starters. There was only one vegetarian main course on offer but, with a mix of side dishes and the starters and sharing dishes that could be combined, vegetarians won’t go hungry. However, the new chef might want to take note! Most of the dishes marked with a ‘v’ look like they would be suitable for vegans as well, but it would be worth checking before ordering.
So, what did we have? Well, for starters, my partner opted for ‘mushrooms on toast’ – actually, pan-fried button mushrooms served on grilled ciabatta (£6.95). In the interests of research, I did, of course, take a bite out of this myself and, it’s true, dishes don’t have to be complicated to be delicious! We both enjoyed my partner’s starter! For my part, I opted for the grilled asparagus served with a crispy hen’s egg (£5.95), also very good and there was no stinting on the asparagus!
For the main course, we both opted for the roasted aubergine (£11.95). This came with a spiced nut crust, ‘heritage carrots’ and sun-dried tomatoes. For the omnivores amongst you, there’s quite an extensive range of meat and fish dishes, including ‘pub classics’ such as home-made steak pie and fish and chips, as well as steaks and mixed grills. Prices for main courses start at £9.95 for sausage and mash and go all the way up to £55 for a 16oz Chateau Briand – ideal for sharing between two (but only served on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays).
And so we moved on to the dessert menu, with cheesecake for me and a sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream for him.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening – good food, comfortable surroundings and attentive staff. As regular readers will know, Wakefield Civic Society runs a monthly Dining Club for its members. I’ve already recommended that we should take our members to The Pledwick in 2020. What finer recommendation can there be?!
Kevin and his partner dined as guests of The Pledwick.
Need to know:
The Pledwick, 434 Barnsley Road, Wakefield, WF2 6QE
Tel: 01924 255599
Monday – Friday: Open from Midday
Saturday & Sunday: Open from 11am
Lunch (Monday – Saturday) 12pm – 2pm
Sunday Lunch 12pm – 7pm
Dinner (Monday – Saturday) 5pm – 9pm (NB – A newly introduced Quiz Night means that no food will be served after 6.30pm on Monday evenings. Also, please note no food is served after 7pm on Sunday)