Elder Halifax Review | Quirky British Dining at The Piece Hall//= get_the_date( 'dS F Y' ); ?>
Elder Halifax Review Written by YFG’s Sarah Cotterill and photographed by YFG’s Jonathan Harris
Elder Halifax Review | Quirky British Dining at The Piece Hall
Halifax is a traditional eating town. And yet the grey-stoned crown of the cloth trade is far from having its last tango. The food and drink scene is having a real moment; Under the umbrellas of Westgate Arcade, tiny Italian kiosk Noco serves pizza, prosecco and freak shakes, just down from the sleek KØBENHAVN, which boasts 24 international craft beers on tap. Amidst Borough Market’s pork scratchings and Parkin, you can get seitan flatbreads from plant-based takeaway Ve:gang, and flat whites from Top Door Espresso.
Elder at The Piece Hall
Around the corner, the £19m refurbished Piece Hall is a real celebration of Georgian Architecture, and between the balconied shops crammed with locally made crafts, bars and restaurants tempt visitors of all ages. And no trip to the Piece Hall would be complete without stopping by Elder.
Tucked away in the far left of the Courtyard, husband and wife team Justin Thomas and Lisa Jakimciw, have transformed the long galley restaurant into a real dining destination, be it day or night, with their relaxed brunches, seasonal evening menu, and a popular line-up of events. Beginning as a series of supper clubs served out of their Armley Town House, the duo would shift the kitchen table into their front room, scrawling dishes on brown paper bags for a mix of guests, each armed with a bottle from home.
Having spent some time at Kendall’s Bistro and Friends of Ham in Leeds, plus a brief sojourn catering to high-end clients down in London, Head Chef Justin, now brings his twist upon modern British cooking. Inspired by the likes of Noma’s René Redzepi and Bibendum’s Matthew Harris, Justin confesses to being drawn to the thought process behind a recipe, and his food certainly presents Yorkshire ingredients, with a little Scandi influence.
Making the most of produce from Borough Market, it’s clear the couple have a personal relationship with their suppliers, placing lesser-known butcher’s cuts centre stage, and sending customers up to P Crabtree & Son fishmongers for fillets they’ve enjoyed. The cider is from Holmfirth, beers from Vocation & Co and Saltaire Brewery, and huge loaves stacked above the pass are baked just six miles away in Mytholmroyd. Regulars drop in for a glass of natural wine from Leeds’ Wayward, and a nibble from their Deli Board, a real regional showcase, garnished with house-pickled vegetables.
The menu has a familiarity to it, peppered with a few “quirky British” touches. The all-day brunch and lunch menu, served 11 am-5 pm lists Eggs Benedict, but with golden potato rostis, and the sandwiches are beautiful buttermilk laced English muffins, made to order, with a tempting choice of fillings. We try the slow-braised brisket, salted until tender and finished with sauerkraut, nobbled mini gherkins, and an oozing melting cheddar.
An Elder favourite, Smoked Haddock Rarebit, combines generous flakes of fish under a blanket of cheesy béchamel, on a thick slice of toast, charred to perfection on the griddle.
In the same way that the friendly staff are happy to share recipes, the ethos for the evening fare from 5 pm Wednesday to Saturday, invites you to choose dishes for the table or to tuck into yourself. To begin, sharp slivers of onion jewel a soft tower of Beetroot Tartare, where contrasting tie-dye pink rings are dressed with zingy garlic and herb chimichurri.
Chives and lemon run through the Fishballs which bob in a skillet of rich crab stock bisque, begging to be mopped up with the accompanying slabs of sourdough.
Next, there’s Squash Gnocchi with sage, hazelnuts and crispy kale, The Mighty Pork Chop, or Lamb Belly, topped with preserved gooseberries and a creamy celeriac puree.
The sides again take on legendary classics; Cauliflower Cheese with a tarragon crumb, Lamb Fat Mash with rosemary, Spring Greens in a yeast dressing, Roast potatoes and Cabbage with chilli and red wine vinegar. If you’ve room for dessert, there’s a mean Treacle Tart and ice cream from Just Jenny’s, churned just the other side of Sowerby Bridge. On the last weekend of the month, they’ve tweaked Sunday Lunch with a Pie Club, and the Christmas menu refines conventional flavours, at fantastic value (2 courses for £21, 3 for £25) available throughout December.
Featured in the Good Food Guide
The Good Food Guide listed bistro makes the most of their Grade one listed surroundings, with a honeycomb tiled bar running down one wall, and at the other end, a petite open plan kitchen. Wide wooden floorboards and tables built out of scaffolding planks provide a laid back aesthetic that lets the colourful food do the talking. There are plans to bring back the sell-out Vegan Night, a coffee cupping in April and working with more local suppliers and producers to develop more bespoke foodie events.
Elder Halifax Review Summary
Elder has come a long way since the days of Lisa and Justin’s DIY pop-ups, now a hero amongst a new generation of local foodies. Despite the tourist trappings of the restaurant’s historic setting, it’s evident customers return again and again for quality meals, where ingredients offer an in-road to contemporary cuisine. Friends and family won’t be disappointed. Whether the morning sun is casting shadows across the quadrangle, or the colonnades are twinkling in the twilight, there really isn’t a more dramatic backdrop to simply sit, eat, and drink.
Elder, Unit 17 Piece Hall, Halifax HX1 1RE – 01422 414445 – Find out more
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