The Cow Shed (Northgate, Wakefield); meat me elsewhere

Our greeting upon arrival on a snowy Wednesday night in February was not the best.  I can only assume the waiter had just had some bad news.  The word “disengaged” is the best way of describing his demeanor.

We were shown to the seating  area on the first floor, as the table before us was running behind and about 15 minutes later we were at our table.  We ordered a glass of red (£6.25) and a bottle of Speckled Hen (£4.00)  which were served without so much a word, or a smile – I hoped this was not an omen of things to come.

The atmosphere was lacking on this snowy Thursday night especially after the early bird diners had gone us a’la carte diners were left quite alone.  The barn upstairs looks lovely on first impressions, but it needs a bit of TLC on the decor and a full rather draft cracks sealing up.

The starters we chose were Duck and Port Parfait with ginger marmalade and toasted ciabatta (£6.95) – the parfait was overpowered by the jam it was too sweet and sticky for this delicate and smooth parfait.    David ordered the Brie (£5.95) it was deep-fried, the story ends there, it was unmemorable which is a travesty for any piece of cheese.

The owners of the restaurant talk about local produce, however there is no reference to the provenance of the produce which is infuriating when we have some many great butchers and farms to be proud of within  a short distance.  Surely, you would be proud and publish your partnerships?

The fillet I had ordered (medium to rare) had good flavour, but this was undone as it had been overcooked.   As someone who cook’s a fillet or rump steak nearly every Saturday night I would say this had come straight off the grill without being rested; the meat was dry with no juice.  The Rib Eye with Blue Cheese again was flavoursome but too dry .  The side of peppercorn sauce (£1.55) which was so so.

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When I dine out I want to be wowed.  I expect a professional chef to be able to cook a steak to order and to know to let it rest.  It might have been the end of a busy service but there was no pressure from the dining room as it was now quiet so no excuses.

Total bill was £70.65 excluding service.

What is interesting is this restaurant continues to be a success in Wakefield where others have failed.  All I can think is that the good people of Wakefield have not had a great steak cooked to perfection.    For now we will continue to either eat steak at home or dine at Goucho in Leeds.

Pieminister (Duncan Street, Leeds) It gets my vote

We jumped in here on the first chilly night of Autumn as who would recommend a good hot pie to warm you through?

We were quickly seated with a drinks order taken. Yorkshire Gold Ale (Leeds Brewery plus a few other local ales) with a  water for me.

There was a good choice of pies and sides and we ordered the Kate and Sydney with Minted Mushy Peas and Moo Pie with Mash and chose some Onion Rings for a nibble.

It was a busy night and there was a nice buzz about the place shame the temperate was so cool!  We asked the staff to turn off the air con which was pumping out chilled air (not what you’d expect in October) as between this and the slow shutting entrance door it was blooming freezing (the air-con remained on which was disappointing).

The drinks arrived soon followed by the onion rings which were huge (sorry there are no photographs), hot and crispy and a very naughty and welcome nibble before the main event.

Thankfully the hot pies arrived not long after and on first impressions it was looking good. Both pies were encased in a golden pastry, so many places offer pies in dishes with lids – in my opinion that is not real pie –  it’s a casserole with a lid.

My Moo Pie (Steak and Ale) was tasty; with crispy pastry, rich gravy, tender meat but wait for it, there was an interloper!  Lots of diced carrots which were not welcome! Why, oh why, do restaurants add in ingredients that is not listed on a menu!   If I wanted Meat and Vegetable Pie I would have ordered that. A meat pie is allowed onions to give it flavour. Don’t get me wrong I am not anti-carrots but come on don’t put fillers in to keep your costs down and not list it! We liked that the gravy was served in a jug i don’t like to add mine all at once; as I like my pastry to stay as crisp as possible before being devoured.

The Kate and Sydney Pie was similar but the balance between the steak and kidney was 90% steak (something I would not complain about, not being a lover of kidney) but David was disappointed, however this was without carrots – he was the winner in my option.

Atmosphere at the venue was good but a cool temperature and with the urban décor (cheapskates) and it made it colder on this Winter night.   This diner-esque pie emporium is in a great location, close to Brew Dog (who sell their Pies to order).

The staff seemed happy in the jobs and were bright and breezy although slightly dippy with it – I could not imagine them handling a large party or customer rebellion.

Overall a 3 out of 5; it gets my vote based on the price (£22.60) versus quality we would return for a quick tea but ensure we are not sat by the door. I don’t think the Pieminister is pretending to anything it isn’t which I recommend it for.