It’s some kind of prejudice, I guess. It’s just that I didn’t expect to discover such a restaurant in a spot that seemed so difficult to find by car. One could easily miss this rather isolated inn (OK, so I come from London) which might be mistaken for a cosy cottage with its own car park. It’s called The Moorcock Inn at Norland Moor.
The Moorcock is worth making the effort to locate. It truly is atop a hill on moorland, although set surprisingly close to a town and several sprawling cities. It’s just four and a half miles from Halifax and less than two miles from central Sowerby Bridge, eight from Huddersfield and twelve from Bradford.
Chef Alisdair Brooke-Taylor is the Moorcock’s guiding light. He is an Australian/British chef who has worked with some of the world’s most celebrated chefs. For the last 4 years he has been based here and enjoying the wealth of local ingredients, ageing and preserving produce, and cooking over charcoal.
Alisdair is a man of many parts and all of them are creative. He also makes all the ceramics for the restaurant and bar, making glazes with the ash from the burnt charcoal. This isn’t a strange departure. Japanese chefs sometimes extend their artistic culinary flair: Michelin-Star chef Yoshinori Ishii in London’s UMU also dabbles in clay. Alisdair also gives a nod to Japan, as his wine list includes sake.
The Moorcock Inn is surrounded by acres of productive moorland, providing plenty of foraging opportunities as well as local game. They have their own 2-acre plot that is being developed to create an organic kitchen garden. Both the pub and restaurant menus change with the seasons and take advantage, very often, of a wood fire.
The restaurant offers a daily set menu presenting multiple courses, served in a relaxed and warm farmhouse-like atmosphere. Each dish is unique, well-balanced and delicious, and the bill-of-fare is ever-changing. The Moorcock has garnered many local regulars but its reputation, and that of its chef, is growing further afield.
While the pub side of the Inn has a menu which focuses on snacks and small plates, the restaurant menu showcases rustic cooking over fire, preservation techniques and free-range ingredients. You will have the opportunity to taste foods that have long been overlooked. A meal here is a culinary experience of regional delights.
The Moorcock offers outstanding value for money: £35 per person for such a polished and exciting spread is hard to beat. Each plate was a delicious talking point. The menu is constantly evolving but on this visit we had Sourdough bread with cultured butter which is certainly different from regular butter, having a slightly fermented flavour. Don’t miss this.
For nibbles we were offered Smoked Brussels Sprouts with hogweed and rosemary. Truthfully, I wasn’t keen on the sound of this, but those sprouts were addictive and I didn’t think that would be a phrase ever to fall from the laptop keys of this food writer.
Sorrel and garlic potato crisps followed, along with a vibrant Barley and brassica porridge. Potato Tart with plankton sauce and cold smoked trout was a revelation; the meat course was succulent pork and our dessert of crab apple tea and raw milk ice cream was a perfect end to this memorable meal filled with innovation and local gastronomic charm. I look forward to a return.
Restaurant seating times:
Monday, Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday- Friday: 6.30pm-8.30pm
Saturday: 12.30pm-2pm, 7pm-8.30pm
The Pub at Moorcock
This is a cosy, traditional freehouse, garnished with oak beams and wood-burning stoves. It offers a menu of seasonal plates cooked over charcoal, along with a full complement of wines, beers and a spirits list built around Yorkshire distilleries. Food and drink can be enjoyed outside when weather allows.
Bar opening hours for drinks (please see food service times below):
Monday, Tuesday: Closed
Saturday- 12 noon-11pm
Sunday- 12 noon-6pm
Bar food service times:
Wednesday- Friday: 6pm-9.30pm
Saturday: 12 noon-3pm, 6pm-9.30pm
Sunday: 12 noon-4pm
Telephone: 01422 832103
The Moorcock Inn