Sarah Cotterill finds a corner of the French Riviera in Brighouse.
Brighouse is another grey, unmistakable West Yorkshire town. A mix of ash textile mills and 60s industrial units; car dealerships and carpet dealerships; arbitrary dog bakery and Aussie surfer cafe – Good Karma Coffee House.
For those of us with teeth, there are big juicy Gordal olives and Marcona almonds to nibble on
Brooks has been a mainstay, if ever there was one, of the Brighouse dining scene since 1989. Originally owned by Daryl and Petra Brook, an indomitable couple known for their “megawatt warm” welcome and quirky style. Above the white tablecloths, there were curious oil paintings on the walls, which customers were asked to scratch with crayons.
The menu included charcoal-grilled kangaroo, ostrich burgers and alligator. Three years on and under new management, the most exotic meat seems to be the Barnsley lamb chop. Lauren Midgley and Greg Foggo have been inspired by their travels in New Zealand, but their turntables are distinctly ‘modern British’ with a little Mediterranean influence here and there.
Appropriately “Cote d’azur” – there are fifty shades of blue inside. Beautiful blue vintage peacock wallpaper, beveled edge mirrors, blue radiators, blue salt and pepper mills, blue plates, blue dado rail. Small pharmacy bottles of dried flowers decorate the tables. Since it’s 2pm on a Thursday, the place is full.
The population structure is broad. Good news as my lunch date is only five weeks old. The staff is also young and considerate. Hot water to warm the bottles is not a problem at all. He tells me with a smile that the childcare facilities are exemplary.
For those of us with teeth, there are big juicy gordalo olives and Marcona almonds – the godfather of the almond kingdom – to nibble on. A pool of truffle honey features a bite-sized profiterole surrounding an airy, foamy goat cheese sprinkled with peppery chives. And of course, Jay Rayner’s ultimate weakness – malted bread. Still warm from the oven, this fluffy brown popover reminds me less of Soreen at school and more of those rolls you get next to the airline meal. Individually packaged and instantly gratifying. Dough enthusiasts descend.
Malta lovers will also find solace in the amazingly good plate of triple-boiled potatoes sprinkled with miso salt on a glistening ball of marmite mayonnaise. A real revelation. Along with the glistening mackerel, this is the most beautiful fish and chips ever. The aioli is quite unnecessary next to your marmite mayo. Immerse everything in it. Forks, fingers – whatever. In any case, mackerel is oily enough as it is, falling off its translucent bones.
A milky ball of burrata is lifted by an orange peel; confit duck scotch egg moat spiced carrot ketchup egg is jammy and golden brown. An elaborate plate of fazzoletti pasta is layered with fat pork cheek and kale in a white wine cream sauce. Paper thin parmesan shavings that melt over the batch.
If you want to get back to the sunshine, try the homemade pineapple and ginger Aqua Fresca, refreshingly mixed with mint and lime zest. The Hair ‘o’ dog Bloody Mary from the brunch menu also looks worth trying. In fact, the entire brunch menu looks worth getting out of bed for: Homemade Cans of Goat Cheese Mouse, Pecans and Honey; pancakes with dulce de leche, blood orange and mascarpone; shakshuka; cinnamon buns.
On the sweet front, save room for the Jamaican ginger cake, a cross between Parkin and STP, served with boozy spiced rum ice cream and a pineapple wheel. However The pièce de resistance comes in the form of a homemade madeleine shell, dipped in lemon sugar. And pick a dozen to stick in a cardboard box on your way home, wafting aromatically as you cross the valley.
The little girl next to us has chosen Dairylea Dunkers and an artichoke and Baron Bigod cheese souffle for lunch. What a ball player. His grandparents, after informing us of his conjunctivitis, proudly declare Brooks the best restaurant in Calderdale. Thin pickings perhaps, but where else can you get food this good and park right outside for 20p?
Brook’s, 6 Bradford Road, Brighouse, West Yorkshire HD6 1RW
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All reviews are unannounced, unbiased, paid for by s and completely independent of commercial relationships. They are a first-person account of one visit by one expert restaurant reviewer and do not represent the company as a whole.
Venues are rated based on the best examples: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you’re passing through, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17 : excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: made by God himself.
Profiterole 6, malt bread 9, burrata 7, Scotch egg 7, fazzoletti 8, mackerel 7, potatoes 9, ginger cake 6, madeleines 10
Young and attentive
Charming and relaxed