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The Beehive Thorner Review: Michelin trained Head Chef sets new heights

Yorkshire Food Guide meets Alex Farolfi, Head Chef at The Beehive Thorner gastropub, to get the latest on his plans to revive the wild food revolution.

The Beehive Thorner Location

The ancient parish of Thorner is every bit the picture-postcard Yorkshire village. White shutters and window boxes swinging from stone-built cottages. An embattled church tower peeping over a humpback bridge. An active cricket club, a Sunday league football team, and a Post Office that opens for two hours on a Thursday.

Winding through the open fields, it’s hard to believe you’re less than a ten-minute drive from the centre of Leeds, just off the A1 and A64 trunk roads. With Thorner’s listed buildings steeped in Anglo-Saxon history, it’s the perfect antidote to the city grind.

The Beehive Thorner Leeds, interior

“I want people to be able to go for a country drive on a weekend, and have some good pub food.” Four months into his first Head Chef role at The Beehive, Thorner, it’s quickly evident there’s more to Alex Farolfi’s ambition than “good pub food”. Busy constructing a kitchen garden and new decking out the back of the car park, wings are in flight for a self-sustaining future for The Beehive Thorner. The team are planting, composting, even devising plans for on-site beehives.

£40 Beehive Thorner Leeds restaurant voucher 

The Beehive Thorner Review - Pea-green Risoni
The Beehive Thorner Review – Pea-green risoni

The Chef

Despite being brought up in the region, it’s not all Yorkshire on the plate. Head Chef Alex was born in Greece and introduced to Mediterranean flavours at an early age. His late father owned an Italian Restaurant in Knaresborough, where, under the Viaduct, he used to wash pots in return for a prized tub of gelato. Years later his impressive CV includes working alongside Paul Burgalieres at L’Enclume, and Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall, where a sense of freedom allowed him to experiment with state-of-the-art laboratory equipment. At L’Enclume, his days off would be spent helping out on the estate’s farm where his fascination with nature grew.

The Beehive Thorner Review - Beef Shin Croquettes
The Beehive Thorner review – beef shin croquettes

His campaign to introduce diners to new ingredients on their doorstep is showcased throughout a selection of small plates on the menu, bringing a subtle twist to classic favourites. Expect to taste wild garlic foraged in springtime, humming through your Christmas dinner.

Talking of dinner, each protein on the Beehive Thorner family-style Sunday roast dinner has its own dark, rich nectar to stream over your choice of grain-fed chicken, salt-baked celeriac, spring leg of lamb, or twenty-eight-day dry aged rump cap. Even the crispy Timothy Taylor battered plaice, which is fried to order, comes with chips cooked the old school way, in beef fat.

Alex’s attention to detail ensures no corners are cut, with focaccias, crackers and chutneys all made in house. Butter is churned from Holmfirth’s Longley Farm double cream, and the cheese board features Leeds Blue and Pecorino from Adel.

The Beehive Thorner Review - Pan-seared Seabass
The Beehive Thorner review | Pan seared seabass

The Beehive Thorner Menu

Sure enough, those ingredients and influences close to Alex’s heart emerge from the menu. Cress picked in Thorner village sprouts from a sloping bowl of pea-green risoni, a moreish Italian orzo pasta. As if scooped from a flower bed the dish is scattered with a soily black crumb, strong with kalamata olive, and decorated with bright petals and soft mounds of homemade ricotta. Reminiscent too of the land itself, a trio of golden beef shin croquettes chew into a burnt chive mayonnaise and sharp horseradish foam, topped with slivers of pink pickled radish. Alex is clearly adept at the yin and yang of cookery, balancing unctuous fat with puckering acidity.

The Beehive Thorner review | Denholme Apiary Honeycomb
The Beehive Thorner review | Denholme Apiary Honeycomb

There’s a thirty-eight day aged sirloin, served with a puree infused with milky roasted potato skins, and a beef and bone marrow jus. On the larger plates, buttery pan-seared seabass is offset with fragrant fennel and sour soused cherry tomatoes. For something sweet, a perfect melt-in-the-middle chocolate fondant rises from a silky pool of coffee anglaise, bobbing with biscotti. Boulders of Denholme Apiary honeycomb are practically glued to the plate with blond slicks of honey. In the middle, white shards of toasted hazelnut encase the creamiest house cultured yoghurt, finished with dots of preserved raspberry jam and wild bee pollen.

The beehive thorner review - chocolate fondant
The Beehive Thorner review | melt-in-the-middle chocolate fondant

The Next Chapter

Although the Chef’s sights are set on accolades, Alex insists the Beehive Thorner will always offer value for money. He’s also keen to keep personally serving each table with at least one dish, to listen to feedback and make diners feel special. An ethos he learnt to embrace during his time at L’Enclume. Watch this space as The Beehive, Thorner attracts some serious attention.


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Written by

Sarah Cotterill


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