With some friends every month we try a new restaurant. This month was my birthday choice and Without hesitation I suggested the hungry Bear in Meanwood. We’re 7 months into this now and the list of places to visit next seems to increase rather than decrease. We have savoured the tender steaks of Blackhouse, recovered from too much sangria at El Bareto, been offended in la grillade and broke a chair in Kendal’s bistro (I assume through the sheer weight gained that evening). The Hungry Bear still managed to stand out from the rest.
After a pint of Ilkley brewery’s Mary Jane at East of Arcadia we headed to The Hungry Bear on a rare sunny Sunday afternoon. The restaurant is unique, making it’s own ales on site with plenty in the pipeline. Serving modern British Cuisine, you’ll have a task to decide what to go for. The starter menu proved the biggest challenge featuring home smoked salmon, scallops with chorizo, smoked duck salad and mushroom and tarragon pate. I plumped for the confit chicken and black pudding terrine. The starter set the tone for the rest of the meal, hearty British flavours with care on ingredients and an attention to detail. A fennel laden, sweet onion chutney cut through the rich, fatty terrine. My only criticism here and of the food full stop was slightly too much orange which at times over powered a brilliant dish. I was lucky enough to also try the smoked duck which balanced brilliantly with the crisp salad, well worth having.
I must admit my eye is always drawn to pork belly on any menu, today I certainly had no regrets. Again a dish of earthy, intense flavours, with confit and fired belly pork as it’s star, did not overface. The haricot cassoulet was the flavour equivalent of your mum tucking you in bed with an electric blanket and hot water bottle on a snowy day. The celeriac puree added sweetness and the dish was finished off with perfectly cooked kale for some needed seasonal, freshness. Perfectly balanced. Elsewhere the 24 hour cooked blade of beef needed no knife. The deep, intense flavour perfectly seasoned next to a Yorkshire pud as big as your fist showed how to make the most out of this under used cut of beef.
Managing to navigate past the passion fruit creme brulee, chocolate and Cointreau torte and pistachio sponge, I finished with parkin with lime creme fraiche. Such a rich dessert after a meal like this might seem a surprise but the light, tangy creme fraiche elevated Yorkshire’s stodgy classic into a fine restaurant dessert that refreshed more than filled.
From the start we were given a friendly, unpretentious, genuine welcome and with some well chosen indie tunes in the background – we felt right at home. This independent, down to earth restaurant near some great local bars is something special. I’d go now before they realise just how good they are and raise the prices.