Well, well, well: it’s time to ‘drop in’ at The Pledwick

The Pledwick, Barnsley Road.

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.

Cosy seating area by the fireside

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!

Starter for one

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

Email: gm@thepledwick.com

Website: www.thepledwick.com/

Opening Times:

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)

The Dakota Bar and Grill – A refined taste of luxury at an affordable price in the heart of Leeds

The Dakota Hotel, Russell Street Entrance

If you like alliteration, you might want to try breakfast in Bradford, dinner in Doncaster and supper in Skipton, but for lunch, it would have to be Leeds and having lunch in Leeds is exactly what I did recently for the purposes of this article.

My first encounter with the Dakota Hotel, located in Russell Street, came about in the summer of 2018 when TopicUK, the magazine I write for, became a Yorkshire-wide publication and held its launch event at the hotel in June. It was a relatively short visit for me, just a couple of hours, but I was very impressed! The friendliness of the staff and the stylish décor left a lasting memory: so much so in fact, that I met a friend there for lunch just before Christmas. A three-course lunch, accompanied by a bottle of wine, cost us around £60 each including service charge but I thought that was quite a reasonable price to pay given the quality of the food, the presentation and the standard of service.  

Based on my earlier experience, it was therefore an obvious choice to recommend to TopicUK editor Gill Laidler that I should include the hotel on my list of places to review for this magazine and that’s how, one lunchtime in February 2019, my partner and I found ourselves settled into a comfortable booth in the subterranean calm of the hotel’s restaurant.

After the hustle and bustle of the streets outside, the Dakota Bar and Grill, which is located downstairs from the ground-floor bar area (there’s a lift), offers a tranquil and fashionable venue, whether you’re looking for a leisurely meal or somewhere to meet a client for a business lunch. We were greeted by restaurant staff Sofia and Ashley who looked after us throughout the meal, bringing menus, taking orders, serving food and pouring drinks. In between courses, I was able to ask questions about the hotel and the restaurant to fill up my notebook. Service was friendly, attentive and courteous.   

At lunchtime, you can choose between the full à la carte menu (which I tried at Christmas), and the simpler ‘Market Menu’. There’s also a separate Vegan menu. It was the Market Menu that we were to sample on this occasion. This offers exceptionally good value for money with two or three courses for £15 or £20 respectively, which really is a terrific price. You get to choose from three starters, three mains and three desserts. A selection of side orders (for which an additional charge of £3.50 each is made) is also available. All the food is beautifully presented. There’s a 10% discretionary service charge will be added, but, believe me, it’s worth it.

Having made our selection, we sat back to enjoy the ambience and admire the look and layout of the room, designed, we were told, by international designer Amanda Rosa, wife of the hotel group chairman, Ken McCulloch. Shiny mirrors, lots of dark wood enlivened with colourful artwork and bright squishy cushions, and subtle lighting that makes everyone look good, all combine to create a very elegant look. There’s recorded music playing quietly in the background and which, as part of the design aesthetic, changes to help to create the mood appropriate to the time of day – one of those little flourishes that you might only pick up on if you visit regularly, or happen, like me, to be doing research for a magazine review!

Ken McCulloch is well-known in the hospitality industry with a long-established track record of opening and running bars, restaurants and hotels. He was responsible for setting up the Malmaison hotel chain. Having sold his interests in that group, he and Amanda moved to Monaco, where, in partnership with David Coulthard, Ian purchased the Abela Hotel, rebranding it as the Columbus, a luxury hotel in Monte Carlo.

Their current project is to create a brand of luxury hotels in the UK. There are now five Dakota hotels in the group with Leeds being the fourth to open. The first was in Edinburgh; then came the Dakota Eurocentral in Motherwell, handy for both Glasgow city centre and the airport, followed by a Dakota in Glasgow. The fifth, opening in May this year, will be the Dakota Hotel in central Manchester.

In preparing for my review, I did some thinking about the hotel name. “Why ‘Dakota’?” I wondered? A quick check on the internet showed that the word derives from the Native American Dakota people, and gave rise to the area today known as the North and South Dakotas, but the word also means ‘friendly’ in the Dakotan language. That’s a really good connection, I thought. What better place to meet a friend for lunch than in a place which literally means friendly? It turns out that I was missing a step: the hotel actually takes its name from the Douglas DC-3 Dakota aircraft which used to fly the New York to Chicago route from the mid-1930s, bringing affordable luxury air travel to the general public and it is this emphasis on ‘affordable luxury’ that lies behind the concept of the Dakota hotels.

Anyway, you didn’t come here to read about history (did you?); you came to read about the food. Well, let me assure you that it was excellent and fully justified my recommendation for the review.

To begin with, we had a complimentary ‘Venetian Dip’, a simple dish consisting of a tomato purée sauce and Mascarpone cheese served with freshly baked bread. Our starters were Roast Squash and Sweet Potato soup for me and a Tofu Salad for my partner. The soup was a meal in itself! The salad, with beansprouts, watermelon, sesame and cashew nuts was also a healthy plateful.

For the main course, we both ordered the Pea and Mint Risotto with pecorino cheese. Temptation got the better of us, though, and a side order of Hand Cut Chips also found its way onto our order. For desserts, and I’m not sure quite how we managed it but research is research, I had the Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble (served with Vanilla Ice Cream) and my partner had the very colourful Eton Mess, consisting of a salad of fresh fruits on a meringue base.

Over coffee, we chatted to Debbie Dobson, Director of Sales at the hotel, who provided me with some more background facts while checking to make sure that we had enjoyed our meal – we assured her we had!

All too soon though, it was time to leave. Hauling ourselves out of our seats, Ashley fetched our overcoats and we climbed the stairs back to street level where we were soon subsumed back into the pell-mell of the crowded streets of central Leeds.

Kevin and his partner dined as guests of the Dakota Bar and Grill, 8 Russell Street, Leeds, LS1 5RN.

Website: http://leeds.dakotahotels.co.uk/bar-grill/

Telephone: 0113 322 6261

Email: enquiries@leeds.dakotahotels.co.uk

The hotel offers customers a discount of 25% on parking charges at The Light underground car park nearby (entry via St Anne’s Street, Leeds.)

The stylish décor of the restaurant

All prices and details correct at the time of my visit – February 2019

Modern Artwork adorns the walls
And let’s not forget the food!

Corarima – the true taste of Abyssinia comes to Wakefield

For my last review of 2018, and continuing my circumgyration of world foods (without leaving my home city …), I visited Corarima, a new Abyssinian-style restaurant in Cross Street, Wakefield which offers an exclusively vegetarian and vegan menu.

We’re all being encouraged to heat a healthy diet these days. ‘Diet and exercise’ is the mantra of the moment as well as being put forward as the cure-all for all ills. As a vegetarian of over 30 years who likes to keep fit, it’s sometimes hard to resist the ‘told you so’ refrain….

One advantage of this focus on healthy eating is that it has become easier than ever to follow a vegetarian, or even a vegan, diet and still eat out enjoying good food. Gone are the days (mostly) when you’d be lucky to find even one ‘choice’ of vegetarian dish on the menu of your local restaurant. Today, you should find most restaurants worthy of your consideration will offer a choice of dish. And there’s also much more awareness now of the needs of people who have to follow special diets for medical reasons, such as the gluten-free diet, and chefs worthy of their salt will rise to any challenge. Meanwhile, vegetarian and vegan diets are seen as being good for the planet as they help people to reduce their carbon footprint.

This emphasis on healthy (or healthier) eating has also seen the rise of the ‘flexitarian’, someone who chooses to eat less meat and to experiment with the vegetarian and/or vegan diet on at least a part-time basis. 

Imagine then my deep joy then when I saw that Wakefield was to get its first ‘vegetarian restaurant’! Yes, Wakefield can now boast it has a restaurant that is dedicated to serving healthy vegetarian, vegan and gluten free food. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Corarima – not only Wakefield’s first exclusively vegetarian and vegan restaurant but also our first-ever Abyssinian eatery.

Corarima is a brand new venture set up by husband and wife team Asamnew Asres and Rahel Bein together with their friend Bizunesh Kebede. Their mission is to offer customers the opportunity to taste “the sensational flavours of Abyssinian cuisine – lovingly prepared by Ethiopian and Eritrean chefs who know how to conjure up the authentic taste of Abyssinia”. Having now had the chance to sample some of their dishes myself, I can report mission accomplished.

Transforming what had been an empty shop unit in a 1970s office block, the trio have created a little oasis of calm and tranquillity where you are assured of both a very friendly welcome and delicious food. My partner and I were greeted by Asamnew who showed us to our table – it didn’t take much finding: with a capacity for just 24 or 25 customers at any one time, you also get very personal service at Corarima.

The restaurant doesn’t serve alcohol (but, if you book in advance, you can take your own bottle of wine which they will serve to you for a very modest corkage fee of just £1.50), so we chose our drinks from a list of smoothies and juices. Asamnew recommended we try the Telba and the Beso, so we ordered one of each. (Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow and be daringly experimental!) Telba, it turned out, was a creamy and refreshing drink made of toasted and ground flax seeds while the Beso was another creamy drink but this time made of barley and honey. Both, we were assured, were very healthy and good for us!

Now, I don’t profess to have any prior knowledge of Abyssinian cuisine so I had a steep learning curve to follow but Asamnew proved to be a worthy and expert coach as he explained the menu and helped us to choose our food. We opted for the milder dishes – if you don’t want hot and spicy, do say so, as recipes can be adjusted to taste.

Having ordered our food, more of which shortly, Asamnew brought us something to nibble on – crudités with homemade hummus – while we listened to his story.

Back in Eritrea, he was a structural engineer, running his own company which employed 15 staff. However, in 2007, he and Rahel and their three children found themselves fleeing their country and in the UK as asylum seekers. They were ‘allocated’ to Wakefield where, Asamnew said, they were made to feel welcome and helped to settle in. Over the years, they have come to regard Wakefield as their home. Asamnew found work in his profession in Leeds and Wakefield but meanwhile, Rahel’s passion to open a restaurant burned deep inside. Earlier this year, Asamnew gave up his job to work on the restaurant project full-time and the result is Corarima. As Asamnew explained, they wanted to open their business in Wakefield, the city that had taken them in; they wanted to give something back.

Corarima takes its name from the Ethiopian spice korarima (corarima), also known as Ethiopian cardamom, or false cardamom, one of the ginger family.

We were now ready for our main courses, delivered to us with a flourish by Asamnew and Rahel. I had opted for the Aubergine Stew (fresh aubergine cooked with onion, tomato and rich flavoured spicy herbs) while my partner had ordered the Mushroom Stew (mushroom cooked with garlic and seasoned with assorted spice). We also ordered side salads. Both dishes came with injera, a flatbread made from teff flour (teff, we discovered was high in fibre, iron, protein and calcium and being a very small grain, is easy to cook). The bread had a slightly spongy texture but was an ideal accompaniment to the stews which were spicy but not too hot (I speak as someone who has never acquired the taste for hot and spicy dishes!).

Lurking at the back of the table we saw a couple of stuffed chilli peppers. I regarded these somewhat suspiciously – I’ve been caught out before! But after some prompting from Asamnew, I took a small forkful – and moved a little further along the learning curve: it was deliciously sweet!

We finished the meal with coffee and small chickpea biscuits topped with sesame seeds and honey – they don’t do puddings – but it was the perfect end to a really enjoyable evening. All that was left was to take some photos and to gather up my notes as we said our farewells. I have a feeling that we’ll be going back. We still have lots to learn!

Finally, if you’re in Wakefield at lunchtime, you can eat in or you can try the Corarima Lunchbox. For just £3, you can pick up a lunch box between 12:00 noon and 2:00pm each day containing the chef’s selection of vegetable and pulse stews served with rice or injera bread. 

Open Monday to Saturday from 12 noon to 9 pm

Kevin and his partner dined as guests of the restaurant.

Corarima – 10 Cross Street, Wakefield, WF1 3BW

Website: www.corarima.co.uk

Tel: 01924 695713

The Corarima Crew – From left to right: Bizunesh – Rahel – Asaminew

Banking on Success: Bar Biccari in Horbury

In July 2018, my partner and I took a short trip over to Horbury to sample the treats on offer at Bar Biccari on behalf of TopicUK magazine. Read my review below.

OK, there are going to be some changes around here! Now that TopicUK magazine has a Yorkshire-wide distribution, I’ll need to explore what’s on offer in other towns and cities around the county. But with a whole region available for me to pick from, the choices of where to go next are dizzying so I’m open to suggestions! If you’d like your restaurant, gastro-pub or diner to be covered in these pages, do get in touch.

I’m going to start my wider investigation of Yorkshire’s eateries with an Italian restaurant and bar in the centre of Horbury: yes, I know, it’s still part of the Wakefield metropolitan district, but, baby steps and all that: I have to begin somewhere!

The written history of Horbury appears to start with the Domesday Book of 1086 in which it is recorded as Orberie. The fact that the settlement already existed to merit an entry in Domesday suggests, of course, that the town’s history goes back even further. The name derives from the Old English word ‘horu’ which means dirty or muddy land and ‘burh’, or burg, which means a fortified settlement or habitation. So, Horbury can be said to indicate some form of stronghold on muddy land. Its proximity to the River Calder probably attests to its strategic and etymological origins – it was possibly a place where the river could be forded before bridges were built.

Today, Horbury is a busy town of around 10,000 inhabitants with an interesting and eclectic mix of buildings dating from medieval to modern times and with some fine Georgian and Victorian properties, including the handsome St Peter and St Leonard’s Church by John Carr (1723-1807), often referred to as ‘John Carr of York’ (where he was to become Lord Mayor in 1770 and again in 1785) but who was actually a son of Horbury.

Bar Biccari is one of the more prominent buildings on the town’s High Street, not least because this former bank building is situated in a commanding position on the junction of Highfield Road and Westfield Road. Boasting an imposing domed tower and oculus window, the building, in brick and stone with leaded windows featuring stained glass, dates from 1910 when it was built for the United Counties Bank (absorbed by Barclays in 1916). When the bank moved out, the building became a pub for a while but was transformed once more some eight years ago when Bar Biccari opened its doors for the first time.

The business is owned by David and Judith Rayner together with Lindsay Dawson. On a day-to-day basis, it is managed by general manager Wil Frost who looked after my partner and me on the night of our visit one pleasant summer’s evening in July (just a week before Wil’s wedding to David and Judith’s daughter!).

We were greeted by bar man Eddie who quickly made us feel at home as we ordered some drinks and perused menus while we waited for our table. The restaurant was already throbbing – all the tables were either occupied or reserved (so take a hint and book early if you don’t want to be disappointed!). Meanwhile, a garlic-and-tomato pizza bread helped to stave off the hunger pangs and a few minutes later head waiter Massimo was showing us to our seats and taking our orders.

Sometimes, it’s the simplest dishes that satisfy and my partner began with an Insalata Caprese (buffalo mozzarella, fresh beef tomatoes with balsamic reduction, fresh basil and green oil) while I had Bruschetta ai Pomodorini (toasted slices of altamura bread topped with vine cherry tomato, garlic and finished with basil oil). Both were fresh and light, getting us off to a very good start.

For mains, we moved on to sample a vegetarian Pasta Forno (slowly baked penne pasta with mushrooms to ‘nonna’s secret recipe’ – also available with meat!) and a Gnocchi Ortolano (baked roast vegetable gnocchi with crumbled goats’ cheese). Again, both perfectly cooked by head chef Gianluca Chiarelli and his team.

Gianluca hails from Settimello, a little village seven miles from Florence. He trained in Florence and gained experience working in restaurants in Italy and on board a cruise ship where Gianlucca met his English partner. In England, Gianlucca has worked in a number of successful restaurants, including Gordon Ramsey’s in Chelsea, The Box Tree in Ilkley with Simon Gueller and Oulton Hall in Rothwell. This led him to open his own café bistro which he ran for 4 years before taking up his current position at Bar Biccari.

By now we were beginning to feel the pull on our waistbands but couldn’t resist the desserts – a classic Tiramisu for my partner and Italian Gelato for me. Coffees to finish the meal and we were replete. All that was left was to speak to Wil about the restaurant to get some more background on the restaurant and the family.

First the name: Bar Biccari takes its name from Biccari, a town in southeast Italy where, it turns out, David Rayner’s mother comes from, so Biccari is a place with which the Rayner family (and now Wil) are very familiar, so it is no surprise that they wanted to recreate something of the feel of Italy in their restaurant. Wil explained that they would like to open an Italian-style deli counter within the restaurant from where they can sell imported Italian foods to local residents. He feels there would be a demand for quality Italian foodstuffs, and I’m sure he’s right.

Until then, customers will just have to make do with having their meals cooked for them in the restaurant which can accommodate 50 diners at a time and is open evenings Tuesday to Sunday and lunchtimes Thursday to Saturday. There’s an à la carte menu, a mid-week menu (with two courses for £12.95 or three for £15.95) and a specials board.

If you’re just looking for a drink and light nibbles, there is a spacious upstairs Prosecco Bar with an outside terrace, where a range of drinks, antipasti and pizzas can be enjoyed. There are also special event nights – have a look at the website for details.

So there you are. Bar Biccari was a real treat and we enjoyed our visit. If you’re looking for good food and a friendly welcome, try Bar Biccari. I’m sure that you too will love it. In fact, you can bank on it!

My partner and I dined as guests of Bar Biccari.

Bar Biccari, 2 Highfield Road, Horbury, WF4 5LU

Website: www.barbiccari.co.uk Telephone: 01924 263626

With Cream on Top: afternoon tea at Wakefield café Mocca Moocho

Always something to tempt at Mocca Moocho!

In June 2018, I had something to celebrate – and Mags and Jamie Blackshaw, owners Wakefield café Mocca Moocho invited me and my partner in as guests to help make the occasion even more memorable. I wrote up my experience with a review for TopicUK magazine – and you can read it here.

There’s something quintessentially British about the idea of ‘afternoon tea’. It conjures up images of delicate finger sandwiches, fancy cakes and scones with jam and cream, all served on fine chinaware in a lovely sunny setting on a summer’s day or cosily by the fireside in the deep of winter: lashings of hot tea, the chink of cup against saucer and the sound of sparkling conversation.

Historically, our notions of afternoon tea can be traced back to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford who is reputed to have started the trend back in 1840. Apparently, she felt a bit peckish one afternoon and asked her staff to bring her something light to eat with a pot of tea. This became a habit and she started inviting friends in to join her. (In those days, dinner at the finest houses was served around 8 pm, so they needed something in between lunch and dinner).

Before you could say ‘cream scone’, the habit had become a tradition – and a fashionable one at that. By the 1880s, the refined ladies and gentlemen of high society were dressing in their elegant clothes to share tea, sandwiches and cakes at formal afternoon teas served at around four o’clock each day.

Now, of course, most of us are too busy to take a formal afternoon tea every day so the words ‘afternoon tea’ have become synonymous with refinement and elegance and perhaps most of all they hint hint at something that’s a touch special. The best china, the tiered cake stands and the fanciest of cakes are brought together to create a moment of calm when friends and family can indulge a love of cake while catching up with each other on their latest news.

There’s an afternoon tea for every budget and, however mouth-watering the food, some of the prices charged by the poshest hotels can perhaps best be described as, well, eye-watering! But, ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy a quality afternoon tea! I’ve found somewhere where it’s possible to sample some delightful sandwiches, some delicious cakes and the fruitiest of scones, all served with tea or coffee, for under £10! Where, I hear you ask, is such incredible value available?

Well, right in the centre of Wakefield is the answer. Yes, at the long-established and well-known café Mocca Moocho, it’s possible to enjoy a lovely afternoon tea for just £9.95 per person. If you want to add a bit of fizz, and you can afford it at these prices, you can spoil yourself with a glass of sparkling Rosé wine for just £5 extra – and what a treat you will have!

My partner and I enjoyed such a treat one afternoon in early May when we called in to see proprietors Mags and Jamie Blackshaw who opened the business some ten years ago (they won a Wakefield Civic Society Design Award back in 2009 for their premises) and now employ 15 staff, a number that goes up to around 20 during the summer months to meet the extra demand.

Some readers may remember Mags and Jamie running August Day in the Ridings Centre and before that when they ran Colonel Mustard in Wood Street. Altogether, they’ve been part of the Wakefield catering scene for some 30 years but they first came together a couple of years before that while working for a large national retailer, something they’d been doing for many years. They discovered a shared a dream of running a business of their own. Mags took a catering management degree course to prepare and they found their niche in Wakefield in the coffee and café trade. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, their fully licensed café in Cross Square is a hive of activity with business people dropping in for a coffee and a chat with colleagues, shoppers resting their feet and their bags over a cuppa, and visitors to the city perhaps having a breather from sight-seeing.  Whether you’re looking for breakfast or lunch, or just a coffee and a bun, there’s plenty of seating in the café – there’s a large upstairs space as well as the seating on the ground floor, and, of course, you can sit out front where you can people watch from under the awning. Whether you’re there to chat or to work, there’s free wi-fi available. Should you venture upstairs, look out for Jamie’s bookshelves from which he offers second-hand books for sale from his personal collection of hand-bound Folio Society editions.

The café is open from 8 am until 4.30 pm Mondays to Saturdays and from 9 am until 4 pm on Sundays. Group bookings are possible, both during opening hours and for special events outside these times – just get in touch to enquire.

So, what was out afternoon tea like? Well, it was, of course, truly scrumptious. We were there as guests of Mags and Jamie but as it was part of a personal celebration too, we just had to have that glass of Rosé to get things started. Yes, we had the tiered cake stands, which always add a touch of style, and, believe me, they came fully laden! In fact, we were defeated and ended up asking for the proverbial doggie bag to take some of the cakes home with us for later. All in all, it was a very enjoyable afternoon and I think the Mocca Moocho afternoon tea must be one of the best-value treats in Wakefield!

If you fancy experiencing a Mocca Moocho afternoon tea for yourself, please note that you will usually need to book at least 2 days in advance. You can do this by telephone or via the café’s Facebook page.

Mocca Moocho, 10 Cross Square, Wakefield, WF1 1PH.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/moccamoocho/

Telephone: 01924 361755

Start your afternoon tea in style!
A stack of tasty treats!

These scones take some beating!