Local guides

Where to eat in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire
Published 21 March 2022

Credit: Shibden Mill Inn

‘If you’re a Gentleman Jack fan head for Halifax and Shibden Hall, home of the remarkable diarist Anne Lister (Sally Wainwright’s second series is coming soon to BBC1). You’ll need feeding and there’s no shortage of great restaurants, cafes and bakeries in the Calder Valley.’

Amanda Wragg, restaurant reviewer for the Yorkshire Post, co-founder of the Yorkshire restaurant directory Squidbeak and long-standing Todmorden resident gives us a tour. 

A good place to start is Shibden Mill Inn, an atmospheric 17th-century pub with black beams, wonky walls and a resoundingly 21st century menu. Or The Moorcock, an extraordinary old boozer on the edge of Norland Moor above Sowerby Bridge -the food so good it’s worth getting lost trying to find. Expect out-of-this-world plates from arguably one of the most creative chefs in the county, and walkers in wellies with muddy dogs. It’s unlike anywhere else.

Over in Brighouse, Brook's recently caught the attention of The Observer’s Jay Rayner, who called it ‘a startlingly good modern brasserie’. He’s not wrong. Their twist on classics (lamb faggots wrapped in cabbage, juniper and pepper venison haunch) are a delight. Start with a homemade sloe Negroni – it’s a belter.

Gimbals
Credit: Gimbals


Back in Sowerby Bridge
Good Food Guide veteran, Gimbals, has shifted its focus to weekend-only take outs - you can still score their legendary lamb kleftico and sticky toffee pudding – and they run a fabulous deli from the former dining room. Alongside Brindisa goodies, there’s home-smoked salmon, hummus and bhajis, plus owner Janet Baker’s mouth-watering cheese and onion pie to take back to your Airbnb.  

Bang next to Gimbals is Engine Social Dining, a cracking small plates restaurant with influences across the globe – to call it eclectic is an underestimation: gyozas stuffed with sobrasada with a makhani sauce, anyone? It’s a fun, buzzy place, full of surprises.  

Engine Social Dining Food
Credit: Engine Social Dining

 

Down the road in Hebden Bridge is Coin, a former bank brought back to life by a talented young couple – it’s a cool, stylish place to sit with a glass of natural wine and a plate or two – perhaps savoury choux buns or mushroom croquettes with spiky salsa verde – or a board of carefully chosen charcuterie and cheese.   

If it’s fine dining you’re after head to The White Rabbit in Todmorden; chef-owner David Gledhill has pulled back slightly from his ‘out there’ offer – although it’s still a five-or seven-course tasting menu - but his cooking is more accessible and all the better for it.

Just across the road Hannah Lovett and Marcelo Sandoval traded their street food ops for a pop-up in the fabulous Old Co-operative building then crowd-funded Yakumama, a Latin American-inspired cantina and bar. Expect the likes of plantain gnocci, banana blossom ceviche and the sharpest Margarita this side of Tiguana. 

Triangle Bakehouse
Credit: Triangle Bakehouse

 

Triangle Bakehouse, a brave mid-pandemic venture from two keen but complete amateur bakers, finds me setting off early every Friday for their fabulous bread and patisserie. I sit with a perfect cortado and almond mille-feuille in my car before my physio appointment. I think I know which does the most good.’

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