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Hebden Bridge's best bet for decent dining, decides Hazel Davis

Published on October 14th 2008.


I had chosen Moyles in Hebden Bridge as a suitable venue to catch up with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in ages. “Bloody hell,” he said, when we walked in and sat down, “This is a bit posh.” I had been too busy telling him everything that had happened to me in the last year to really pay attention, but he was right. Moyles is quite posh.

I went for the vegetarian scotch egg (£4.75) just because I had to see what it was all about. And it was delicious, like a delicate spring roll with a wee quail’s egg inside and not at all like something you’d pick up on the M1.

White tablecloths, sparkly cutlery and stone floors set Moyles apart from the rest of the town’s faux-foreign, mock-Med culinary vibe. It’s always been surprising that, given the amount of wealth and pretension in Hebden Bridge, it hasn’t produced several Michelin-starred establishments by now. Instead, it spews forth new shop after new shop, all of which stay open for an average of two weeks before the owner heads back to Cornwall or Stroud.

But though it doesn’t have Michelin stars (yet), Moyles Hotel and Restaurant looks to be the town’s best bet for a decent dining venue. Under head chef Nicholas Wilson (straight from the Novelli empire), the Moyles menu is a contemporary palette of local, fresh ingredients. It’s directly opposite the revamped marina area and one of the first places you come across on entering the town.

Having arrived before 7pm, we decided to go for the Early Bird menu and because we did, we were treated to a lovely tiny tomato and basil soup which my friend described as “utterly, utterly delicious and the most savoury thing I have ever eaten.” It certainly was good but that heady savoury taste was to pervade the rest of the meal, making us smack our lips a little too much.

For his starter my pal had the sashimi of scallops with pickled enochi mushrooms, feta cheese and a micro-salad (£5.95). There was supposed to be tuna but they had run out. No matter; he pronounced his scallop as perfectly cooked but with sesame that could have used a toasting. The feta wasn’t feta at all but a cube of creamy, cold cheese which wouldn’t have been disappointing if it hadn’t been advertised as feta.

I went for the vegetarian scotch egg (£4.75) just because I had to see what it was all about. And it was delicious, like a delicate spring roll with a wee quail’s egg inside and not at all like something you’d pick up on the M1.

For his main my friend chose the duck breast on celeriac purée (£17.50). The duck was just past pink and not the least bit fatty but the celeriac purée he described as virtually inedible, heavily dosed with too much of whatever had made the soup so delicious. I, going down the fully vegetarian route, had the butternut squash and Hokkaido squash purée with a beetroot mash (£12.50). The beetroot was moist and tart and I loved it. But just in case I got too complacent, there were also some bizarre little dumplings which tasted at once of nothing and Halloween (my friend agreed so it can’t be such a bizarre comparison). I would say they were entirely MSG but I might get sued so I won’t. If I thought I didn’t like them, I still finished them, such was their addictive pull. The squash was tasty and creamy.

Because we were special early-birders, we were offered a small pre-pudding of champagne jelly topped with white chocolate ganache, into which a whole strawberry had been plonked while the jelly was still hot, making it a watery mess. We eschewed the wine list on account of both being drivers and opted for sparkling water (£2.60) instead, though the wine list was extensive.

To finish, I had a disappointing chocolate pudding (£5.95) with a pleasant hot sauce inside a rather tasteless chocolate outer sponge, which could have come from any tin. I chose it because it was accompanied by Guinness ice-cream (£5.95), which I regretted as soon as I had made my first excursion into it. I was immediately reminded of my days as a barmaid in a south coast holiday park. But the taste wasn’t a coastal, creamy one redolent of beachy walks; it was a watery ball of morning-after beer dregs.

I was forced (in the way that only female dining partners are) to encroach on my companion’s choice – the entirely more satisfying trio of apple puddings, featuring a cider sorbet, a mini tarte tatin which was sweet, chewy and buttery, and a thick and structurally sound apple creme brulee. I may have made the wrong pudding choice but I stand by my decision to choose Moyles as a reunion destination. And I would do so again.

Rating: 14/20
Breakdown: 5/10 Food
5/5 Service
4/5 Ambience
Address: Moyles Hotel, Restaurant and Bar
6-10 New Road Rd
Hebden Bridge
West Yorkshire
01422 845 272

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HebdenNedSeptember 10th 2008.

Relish is the best eating in Hebden centre. Just round the corner from Moyles and 1 year old now.

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