Review: The Venue Bar & Kitchen

What is it? “The Venue Bar & Kitchen is a restaurant offering a collection of classic food with modern twists, from gourmet burgers and handmade pizzas to exclusive cocktails like Spiked Apple Pie. Enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings of Storthes Hall Woods in our alfresco dining area.”

Where is it? Storthes Hall Park, Kirkburton, HD8 0WA

Who is it? The Venue Bar & Kitchen is part of the overall The Venue Huddersfield offering. Weddings, function room hire, and a stylish aparthotel with cinema room, games room and recently refurbished gym are all offered on-site.

The Review

After finally convincing the Uber driver that we didn’t, in fact, want to be deposited at the student accommodation, we arrived at The Venue. Even from the start of the path there was an overall happy uplifting feeling, with a retro billboard welcoming patrons back. This was our first visit, but I felt thoroughly welcomed nonetheless!

A bit of an intimidating photo of a welcoming place

We hadn’t been sure what to expect, as previous photographs showed tables open to the air – not an issue the previous, sun-kissed Friday, but a bit of a worry with our current spate of changeable weather. Fears were allayed at the site of a large marquee, bedecked with strings of lights. Within, sturdy tables and chairs were perfectly spaced to allow for the required distance, without making it feel regimented and antisocial. To make up for the temporary lack of outdoor heaters (on order), soft, cosy blankets were on hand to keep the chill at bay.

We were shown to our table; stepping into the marquee felt a bit like walking into Santa’s grotto, possibly due to the twinkling lights, sense of giddy excitement at being ‘out-out’, and the presence of winter woollies! Once checked in with the provided QR code, it was time to peruse the menu. At first glance the menu could seem rather basic, featuring sections for burgers, kebabs, pizzas and parmos, as well as sides and small plates. A closer look reveals tastes from around the world adding a twist to the pub classics, such as a katsu chicken burger, vegetable gyoza, with chorizo and falafel making an appearance in a number of dishes.

As the parent of a somewhat fussy eater, I was pleased to see pizza on the menu even though all the varieties on offer had all sorts of weird and wonderful toppings. It’s easy enough to just not put them on, right? Unfortunately, when the lovely server came to take our order, she uttered the words I was dreading…”Sorry, we’re out of pizza”. Oh dear. The one ‘safe’ option, all snaffled up earlier in the day (I’m sure they were lovely, hope you enjoyed them, whoever it was!).

After much deliberating, and having to turn the poor lass away a number of times, we were finally ready to order. A small plate of vegetable gyoza and a portion of sweet potato fries, a katsu chicken burger, and a falafel kebab – with the ‘Moroccan jeweled’ salad option.

Whilst waiting for the food, we were entertained by half of Leeds duo Northern Acoustic, who performed a selection of upbeat covers amongst the eating, drinking and general merriment. I must admit, I always feel a bit sorry for the singers in these situations, where a lot of people have gone to meet with friends for food, drink and conversation rather than the intention of watching a performance. My tried and tested method of guilt-tripping people into listening and clapping at the appropriate times comes highly recommended. It involves clapping and cheering with such enthusiasm, and perhaps some wolf-whistling, that those on surrounding tables feel they must join in. Zero psychological study went into this. Only the best for our readers.

And so, the food arrived. Presentation-wise, it was visually stunning. All of it. Even the bowl of sweet potato fries managed to look a bit sexy. The kebab came as a large flatbread, piled high with the Moroccan jeweled salad – which turned out to be a sort of lemon and coriander couscous with pomegranate seeds – and some serious-looking falafel. The katsu chicken burger looked as though it would hold its own in a fight given half the chance. Honestly, this was a hefty piece of chicken in that burger.

Not one to be intimidated by food, the younger child chose her preferred method of attack and went for it. A knife and fork for some bits, and the ‘shove it in your face when no-one’s looking’ approach saw the “absolutely deeeelicious” meal vanish without a trace. The older child declared that the sweet potato fries were possibly the best she’d ever had. Now, the kebab. I struggled with it a bit. Partly due to my ridiculous taste buds and sense of smell (thanks covid), and partly because it was a lot of carbs. I had been expecting some salad with the salad, but it was just the couscous. In an unusual move from whoever made them, the falafel were a combination of blended and whole chickpeas. Having only recently become a falafel fan, I think perhaps it was too soon for me to be up for playing with textures! The taste was a delight, so I have no doubt that they were pretty damn good falafel.

The lighting really came into its own when night fell!

Goodness, the more I write, the more I see where the eldest child might have got her pickiness from!

I asked for more garlic mayo (which is virtually a food-group for me), and then I asked for even more garlic mayo, and the server didn’t raise so much as an eyebrow. Yes, I know I have a problem, but as vices go it could be a lot worse.

We were approached plenty of times to enquire about drinks orders, exactly the right amount of times I would say. You don’t want to be getting pestered every few minutes, but also don’t want to be trying to flag down a server whilst feasting on one of those gargantuan burgers. Our plates were cleared promptly, and we briefly pondered dessert. I’m almost sure I saw some fairly fancy-looking desserts on their way to another table, and I deeply regret not intercepting them on the way to the car.

All in all I would say our maiden voyage to The Venue Bar & Kitchen was a successful one. We all left feeling full and happy, thanks to the food and the delight at actually being able to go out somewhere for a meal. The marquee, tables and entertainment combo was spot on in terms of, well, everything really. It felt very safe, and it was clear that all covid-19 guidance to businesses had been put in place during the organisation of this current outdoor endeavour. Giving local performers a chance to actually get out into the gig scene, for possibly the first time in over a year, should be applauded. They could just as easily be streaming music via a sound system, but having a live musician helps to increase the sense that you are out at an event, rather than popping out for a meal.

I foresee many delightful, warm summer evenings on the horizon for The Venue, and as restrictions continue to lift it will be interesting to see how they adapt to to being allowed to use their indoor space at a time when many will want to dine outdoors.

Many thanks for having us!

Huddersfield Times

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