They're not breaking ground, but they are nailing their menu, says Simon Richardson
When I went to Berlin a couple of years ago, I discovered that the exterior of a building means very little. A large amount of the city was rebuilt on a shoestring budget, after heavy bombing during World War II, so you often need to look behind unappealing façades to discover the city’s finest gems. It’s something we aren’t very good at in England.
Now, I’m not going to extend this analogy much further, because Ilkley ain’t Berlin. But my first impression of Broadley’s Bistro reminded me that reserving judgement is an important skill - and that I often need to have a word with my inner snob to avoid missing out.
The intensity of the cheese has me growling like I’ve gone feral
Broadley’s is in Ilkley’s Moors shopping centre, next to the Edinburgh Woollen Mill. It’s a relaxed place with a café feel that reflects its family values. The head chef is a Broadley, we’re served by a Broadley and almost all the other diners on the night are known by name.
It isn’t pretty – the blinds remind me of a hairdresser’s. It’s quite a bare space and there is a disconcerting pink disco light doing its thing on a wall behind the bar. Concern creeps over me, but then we end up deep in conversation with the staff and things relax.
We start off with a glass of Malbec (£6.50), which is fairly middle-of-the-road, and an apple-y glass of Prosecco (£5.25). I relax with the smugness of a man who has had no problem making his menu choices, but I’m then jolted into a panic as an absolutely sensational-looking piece of battered cod breezes past.
Must. Have. Battered Fish.
But first, starters. My partner has a rich moules marinière (£8.95), while I have a superb piece of pork belly with a surprisingly light breaded black pudding, sweet apple sauce and a perfect strip of salty crackling. It’s not ground-breaking in any way, but it doesn't need to be.
I decide to hold firm with my instinct and go for calves’ liver (£17.95) instead of fish, mainly because I’ve spotted a wine I really fancy – more on that shortly.
The liver is perfectly cooked – pink and delicate, rather than grey and rubbery. It comes with a smooth, buttery mash and a rich jus that would seriously challenge a smaller stomach. You also get two entire rashers of bacon... extra points.
My partner has a delightfully pink duck breast (£18.50) that has the texture of sous-vide meat, served with crunchy cabbage and another red wine jus.
The wine list has been put together by local independent wine shop Martinez, but it all looks fairly standard until I come across a Château Musar (£49.95). How often do you see a bottle of Lebanese on the menu? I've had two before - one was great and the other tasted like petrol. I flip the coin. This is spectacular – earthy, full bodied and a seriously long aftertaste. This wine would take you in a fight.
For our sides I’ve craftily picked onion petals (£3.50) with the same dreamy-looking batter that encased that cod from earlier. They don’t disappoint; the batter is light, crisp and not too fatty. My partner has a small mac n’ cheese (£3.50), which is every bit as homemade as it tastes; the intensity of the cheese has me growling like I’ve gone feral.
For dessert, the crème brûlée (£6.50) passes the typical crack-with-a-spoon test but harbours a surprise in the form of a raspberry ripple at the bottom. It’s divisive – I’m a fan, but my partner can’t stand it. Meanwhile, the chocolate brownie (£6.50) is warm and gooey with an excellently crisp brandy snap (they know how to make things crispy here).
Rolling ourselves back to the train station like Tweedledum and Tweedledee, it's just twenty minutes back to the city centre. Worth the trip out of town? Yes. Just don't go on a Monday, when 90% of the town is shut, and you'll be able to combine your trip with a few really decent bars. Ok, Broadley's isn’t doing anything new, but it’s nailed the dishes of its menu and you can’t really argue with that.
Broadley’s, The Moors Shopping Centre, 1 S Hawksworth St, Ilkley LS29 9LB
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Moules 7, Pork Belly 8, Duck 7, Calves’ liver 8, Crème brûlée 6, Brownie 6, Mac n Cheese 7, Onion petals 7
Some of the friendliest service I’ve ever had
Could do with some soft furnishings