Yorkshire Life Luncheon - Wentbridge House Hotel, Pontefract

Yorkshire Life Luncheon - Wentbridge House Hotel, Pontefract

Yorkshire Life Luncheon - Wentbridge House Hotel, Pontefract - Credit: Archant

Guests join us for lunch at a stylish West Yorkshire hotel where service is a top priority

Ian Booth, Head Chef, prepares lunch.

Ian Booth, Head Chef, prepares lunch. - Credit: Archant

As soon as you arrive at Wentbridge House Hotel, Restaurant & Brasserie you know you’re in a safe pair of hands. Or rather several safe pairs of hands, as every member of staff is as highly trained as the next when it comes to customer service.

Babs Livesey, the elder stateswoman of the impeccable serving team, is a perfect case in point. She’s there when you need her, proffering extra water, a bonus boat of jus or just a genuine smile and a few softly-spoken welcoming words.

She’s a gem and any restaurant would be lucky to have her. But it’s not really luck that draws Babs and Wentbridge House together – both are primarily interested in providing top-notch customer service.

‘Myself and the team here at Wentbridge are very proud to be part of this wonderful hotel,’ said manager Catherine Harrild. ‘Whilst we all feel privileged to work in such a wonderful place surrounded by luxury, we never just rely on the product alone. Customer service is one of my biggest passions and we have built up a thoughtful, caring team where excellent, friendly service is our ethos. It’s infectious and the theme runs throughout our hotel, making Wentbridge House a fun, yet professional place to work and visit.’

Guests at the Yorkshire Life Lunch. Wentbridge House Hotel, Wentbridge.

Guests at the Yorkshire Life Lunch. Wentbridge House Hotel, Wentbridge. - Credit: Archant

This luxury, four-star country house hotel, which sits in 20 prime acres of the Went Valley near Pontefract, doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to service, it walks the walk too – usually up to a podium to collect an award.

The talented team’s latest big win was the coveted Outstanding Customer Service gong at the annual Welcome to Yorkshire White Rose Awards, presented by BBC Look North’s Harry Gration and Amy Garcia.

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The judges praised Wentbridge House for its exceptional customer service, adding: ‘Staff are encouraged to anticipate and think constantly about how they can make a difference on a daily basis. They clearly take great pride in the glowing feedback this generates. Such outstanding service is part of the routine in this fantastic Yorkshire hotel.’

But did the service live up to the hype on the day of our lunch? Of course it did. Our guests could not have been better looked after (Babs was a non-stop blur of activity). And it goes without saying, but let’s say it anyway, that the food, presented with style and a smile, was equal to the service.

Chef Ian Booth and his seemingly tireless brigade presented our guests with a starter of smoked mozzarella and tomatoes – at first glance, a simple dish, but one that delivered a delicious punch of flavour through spot-on smoking (too little and it disappears into the ether; too much and you think you’re in Cuba).

Next came a deeply satisfying plate of perfectly cooked lamb; the roast canon as tender and lean as you like, while the braised shoulder was a butter-soft disk of deliciousness that had been cooked low and slow to allow every ounce of flavour to develop to its full potential.

And finally, just when our guests thought life couldn’t get much better, they were presented with a range of mini puddings that paid suitable homage to the glory that is Yorkshire rhubarb. There was super-smooth ice cream in a crunchy ginger snap basket, sweet rhubarb jelly pyramids, panna cotta with an alluring wobble and a clever inverted rhubarb crumble tart that drew appreciative noises from every table (most of them, perhaps not surprisingly, sounding like ‘rhubarb, rhubarb’).

A first class meal served by a first class serving team. Someone should give them an award. Oh, wait a minute, they have. n

Wentbridge House Hotel, Wentbridge, Pontefract, West Yorkshire, WF8 3JJ; 01977 620444; wentbridgehouse.co.uk


Smoked buffalo mozzarella, heritage tomatoes and micro basil dressed in organic extra virgin olive oil and 12-year-old balsamic vinegar

Roast canon of Forge Farm lamb, braised lamb shoulder, baby spring vegetables, wild garlic creamed potato and minted lamb jus

Vanilla panna cotta with textures of Wakefield rhubarb

Wine notes

Rosario Sauvignon Blanc, 2014, San Pedro, Central Valley, Chile

With the explosive passionfruit aromas and mouth-watering acidity of a classic Chilean sauvignon blanc, this is packed with herbaceous and vibrant tropical fruit aromas and zippy acidity. This admirable wine is vibrant, refreshing and a real crowd pleaser.

Corney & Barrow Reserve Claret, 2010, JP Moueix, Bordeaux, France

A delightfully deep ruby-crimson in colour, this has a completely classical structure of red and black fruit supported by earthy minerals and firm, well-developed tannins.

Chateau Septy, 2010, Monbazillac, Bordeaux, France

A good stand-alone dessert wine or aperitif (and sauternes alternative), the secret here is all in the balance. It’s not so much a sweet wine as one with concentrated ripeness. As a bonus, it offers a rich combination of exotic and citrus fruit, honeyed notes and a richly-textured palate with vibrant flashes of zest. In other words, a great introduction to dessert wine without breaking the bank.

:: All wines kindly supplied by Corney & Barrow, Sedbury Stables, Richmond, DL10 5LQ; 01748 828640; corneyandbarrow.com.