The Old Fold – Restaurant Review
By Matt Callard
I love a well-honed menu. It shows confidence. It’s a demonstration of refinement and it says we understand our produce. It also negates that awkward fifteen minutes spent with your nose inside a phone book, fretful that you’ll order the stinker among the stunners.
Maybe the owners of The Old Fold, a new suburban Leeds Bar and Grill, have paid a visit to Le Relaise De Venise. The famous Gallic steak house and French national institution has taken menu refinement to its logically extreme conclusion. They have no menu at all. At Le Relaise, it’s prime steak and skinny French fries with a top-secret herb sauce, or it’s the exit door. And guess what – it’s wonderful (there are now sister restaurants in London and New York).
Not that The Old Fold is without choice. There are five starters, a handful of well-picked mains and a choice of burgers. But here (at long last, some might say) is an English eaterie that does exactly what it should say on the tin. Good, flavoursome dishes, hunger-slaying portions, informal atmosphere, super service and good prices. It’s not rocket science – but it’s such a relief in these cash-conscious times to find an unpretentious new restaurant that understands its menu and understands its customers so well. It must be a blessed relief to the locals, too, that they have are spared the opening of yet another identikit Anglo-Indian restaurant.
“The power of quantity”
So, a Homemade Chicken Liver Pate (£4.25) starter was nicely peppery, leaning on a sweet red onion chutney and served – importantly – with warm buttery toast. A crisp, honey-glaze Belly Pork (£4.00) was exactly the mouthful of flavour you’d hope for.
But the real test of any steak house is, naturally, the big meaty mains. And these are not just any big meaty mains. All the meat comes freshly supplied from one of Yorkshire’s finest and most established butchers – who has, incidentally, a stake (no pun intended!) in the business.
And how you can tell. My Pork Belly Ribs (£8.50) are tender, falling away from the bone, nuzzling a tasty, sticky, smoky sauce and – yes – numerous! Wherever Yorkshiremen are concerned, one should never underestimate the power of quantity! A Classic Half Pound Burger (£8.00) is expertly dressed and, vitally, perfectly balanced. There are no crumbling baps or extraneous fillings spilling from the sides. Just a good, spongy handful – what more can you ask?
“The simple things well done”
And the Fillet Steak (£15.50) itself? Medium rare as requested. Juicy, absolutely pack full with flavour. A veritable homage to beef. Forget Wagyu farms, Britain produces the best steak in the world – and here is the proof.
I’d prefer slim French fries (£2.00) over the chunky, fish and chip shop-style chips. But maybe this is a deliberate nod to the restaurant’s northern roots.
Whatever, The Old Fold is a welcome addition to the suburban Leeds food scene. It’s a lesson in how doing the simple things well can still be a recipe for success. Le Relaise De Venise, watch out.
The Old Fold, 8 Town Street, Farsley, LS28 5DB
5.30 pm – 10.30pm Tuesday to Sunday
Editor’s Update: The Old Fold was sold in 2012 and the site now houses a Greek restaurant called Olive and Feta.