Cath Kane enjoys dining Matt Healy style at The Beehive.
I’ll be honest with you, I’m not originally from Leeds, I’m from the ‘dark’ side of the Pennines! Therefore, when a popular, nostalgic building steeped in history is on the brink of being re-transformed, I may not automatically be aware just how significant the place is.
This is when my research comes in, and the internet obviously is a great source of information; however, it’s speaking with Loiners (people from Leeds) who excitedly reminisce that gives me a sense of a place much better than an internet search engine can.
The Recent History…………………
There are fond memories of family Sunday lunches in the late 90’s at the pub which at the time was Tino’s at The Beehive. A warm welcome was always given by Spaniard Tino who ran the place alongside friend and chef Jack, whilst wife Marie made all the desserts, including her infamous ‘Grasshopper Pie’. There was a small dining room which was the restaurant part of the pub, where British classics were served alongside Spanish seafood dishes. Then there was the snug where locals would go for a drink and watch live sports.
Since Tino left in the middle of the last decade, the pub has seen its fair share of owners, as well as times when it has been closed down, with Con Amici being the most recent resident before closing earlier this year.
The dining experience.
The doors to Leeds chef Matt Healy’s new gastropub at The Beehive opened this weekend. This is the third venture for Matt and his team in just over a year, with Matt Healy x The Foundry in the city’s South Bank area, and Grön Kafe in Oakwood, being the other two.
We were excited heading down for the Press evening at the recently £180,000 re-furbished pub. Although Thorner is only a few miles from Leeds City Centre, the village has a very rural feel to it. The white honeycomb stencils in the windows of this traditional style pub were the first aspect to catch our attention as we pulled up outside the Beehive.
Brightly coloured murals greeted us on both sides as we entered, and beyond, a spacious area with open bricks pillars and walls leading up to the bar, the bar itself being surrounded by honeycomb-shaped floor tiles. The area has an industrial feel to it, with lanterns, wired metal light shades, and high wooden beer tables accompanied with stools.
To the side of the bar there is a little ‘prohibition’ style snug room, with a Chesterfield sofa, comfy armchairs, dark brown pouffes and a tiled effect carpeted floor. We could visualise the roaring log fire in the winter, but not so much today with it being the hottest day of the year!
After ordering two glasses of a crisply delicious Sauvignon Blanc we were escorted through to the main dining area, which was one room split into two sections. This had a spacious and relaxed feel to it, with decorative touches such as wooden boxes of artificial plants and herbs on the wall.
We were invited to choose two courses from the sample menu. For starters, I opted for the Ham Terrine, Egg and Pineapple, whilst Thomas (being vegetarian) went for the Roasted Beetroot Salad, with Goats Curd and soft Herbs.
My dish was a twist on the classic Gammon and Pineapple. The terrine was divine, succulent ham, well-seasoned with Mint running through. The pineapple was served as a salsa with chilli, onion, and a vinegar sharpness. The egg was boiled with the yolk being just set. Thomas loved the goat’s curd on his dish, though he felt the beets would have benefitted from a touch more salt.
For our mains, Thomas went for the Portobello Mushroom Wellington, cream sauce and spinach, whilst I opted for the baked Halibut Chickpea & Chorizo Stew. I just had to steal some of the Wellington; the golden baked pastry was so appealing and the mushroom flavour was strong and intense, as it should be, with the cream sauce giving it a luxurious richness.
My halibut fell apart, and the smokiness of the chorizo and garlic aioli made for a beautiful sauce. Side dishes will of course be on offer from the main menu.
If your visit demands just a few drinks and some lighter food, bar snacks are available all day, including Scotch eggs and pork pies.
The prices on our sample menu were in line with what you would expect to pay at a gastro pub restaurant. Starters are £5-£8, whilst main courses will set you back £10-£20. Without seeing a full menu, I cannot say how well vegetarians and vegans will be catered for, but obviously there were vegetarian options available on our sample menu. We’re sure Matt has this covered.
We managed to grab him for a quick hello and thanks on our way out. He enthusiastically told us how the Beehive is fully booked for their opening weekend, a sign of things to come I’d imagine. A ‘Nowt Fancy’ strap line is positioned above the serving pass in bright neon lights, and this is the message that they want to convey, that their food is traditional and hearty but with that interesting twist for which Matt has gained his reputation.
We’re keen to re-visit once the place has fully opened and we have the full menu to choose from. From our experience, customers will be greeted by a warm and welcoming team.
To view The Beehive’s menu and book a table visit their website.
All photographs by Cath Kane.