Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Beehive - Thorner, Leeds

Thorner is a small village on the outskirts of Leeds heading towards Wetherby. An interesting fact about Thorner is that it has no street lighting (!). I'd never visited Thorner prior to my trip to The Beehive but I instantly fell in love with the place, even having no phone signal for a few hours didn't deter me. As soon as I got home I looked up Thorner on Right Move... and then realised it will be a few years until I can afford to live in Thorner, the only places in a first time buyer's price range were some tiny apartments. Not exactly my dream home in the country. I should have guessed it would have been out of price range by the super-cars that kept driving past..

Nevertheless Thorner is only a 15 minute drive away from North Leeds so I'm sure I can keep visiting and keep dreaming.

I visited Thorner and The Beehive on a bizarrely sunny and warm Wednesday evening in April. We jumped at the chance to eat outside, and what a good idea that was. The views outside the beehive are stunning. Staring across fields you can watch the sunset and the sky dance in colour. The best backdrop to any meal.

Check out that view! 

Wednesday evenings are French evenings at The Beehive, letting the Sous Chef who is French take the limelight. A selection of courses are two for £20 including a glass of wine each. Pretty reasonable.

We started off our evening with olives and water whilst we pondered over the wine menu.

As it was French night I opted for a glass of Rouge. Despite it being the cheapest on the red menu it didn't detract from the taste, and hallelujah it was actually served at a sensible temperature! I'm tired of stone cold red wine I have to warm in my hands.

The menu changes seasonally with some traditional gastropub favourites too such as burgers and steak. We pondered over the menu, sat and sipped our wine, and the Ray Ban model and I admired the view.

Did I mention the view?

I really fancied the pigeon to start, but this was served with potato fondant... and for mains I really wanted the duck but this was served with fondant too. I had a choice to make.

I went with the asparagus and duck egg.

.... and D got the pigeon so I could knick sample a bit.

Although my dish was presented in a less than traditional way (one for @wewantplates) I couldn't help but think D had the better dish. Mine lacked something, perhaps some sort of creamy sauce, the duck egg yolk was very rich and an added sauce could have brought this together a little better with the asparagus.

I couldn't fault the pigeon. It was well cooked although D didn't seem too keen on the sweet potato fondant.

For mains, as I've already mentioned I had the duck.

Pan fried and served with a cherry jus, green beans and fondant potato.

For me, I could have eaten the duck a little bit rarer. I like a bit of pink, if not red, in my duck. Although I realise this isn't to everybody's taste I've come to expect it when dining in restaurants so it was a surprise to me that there was no pink. I can't fault the rest of the dish, everything else paired well and the cherries really lifted the dish.

Here's a side view too.

D opted for the sirloin steak and chips.

D asked for his steak medium rare, but once again no pink was in sight. I had a nibble and it was clearly a good steak as even though it wasn't pink it still tasted pretty good.

As the sun started to set it became a little chilly and we moved inside. I tried to leave it to the very last minute so I didn't miss too much of the sunset, but at the sight of D shivering I relented and went inside.

Once inside we decided to order dessert.

D clearly feeling the chill decided to order a crumble which was served with crème anglaise, but this was switched to ice cream. D's favourite food.

A warming dish that wasn't overloading after a large meal. Packed full of berries and flavour I had dessert envy.

I ordered the crème brulee as I had a craving for one.. the best one I've tried being in Kendell's they had a lot to live up to.

Served with a toasted brioche roll, that was fully toasted and crumbled beneath my fingers. The crème brulee was quite cold underneath, and there was no tapping of the topping to make it break as it had already been broken in to. I think my preference is a thicker top and a smaller bottom (are we still talking about desserts?). The ladies next to us loved it, so I think it must be down to personal preference. They raved about it to the waiter and I was almost embarrassed about how much they were gushing over it.

The service was impeccable, the waiter was around 17 to 18 years old but seemed to be proud to be a waiter. There was no waiter-syndrome here which I often find in the city centre with students who appear to feel they are too good for the job.

It was nice to see the restaurant manager's son hanging around too. He was even offering to clean tables and letting the waiter know when people had finished their courses as he peeped his head out of the doorway. A loving embrace between father and son left me feeling humbled.

I was invited to review The Beehive by the general manager Richard, an ex-member of the Queen's butler service. Although I didn't find out that last fact until the end of the evening, but it certainly explained the impeccable service we received throughout the night.

Reading reviews on trip adviser et al it seems that The Beehive had managed to gain itself a somewhat unwanted reputation. The reviews are bad, but recent ones are more positive. They have their regulars and their covers each weekend are improving. 40 covers on a Wednesday night in a small village outside of Leeds doesn't seem like a failing business to me.

In my chat with the Richard at the end of the night he admitted that they had improved The Beehive a lot, but that they still had some way to go. As you've just read there are some improvements to be made but despite this I had a great night at The Beehive. Richard was optimistic that they would be there in 6 months, his enthusiasm leaves me hoping he does it. I'll keep checking back to see if he's done it yet, and to catch another glimpse of that view whilst sipping on perfectly temperatured wine.

Oh, and did I mention that view?

Beehive on Urbanspoon

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