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Bapi

El Gato Negro Tapas, Ripponden, W Yorks

44 posts in this topic

Food dammit- It’s a rather perverse affliction isn’t it? One which causes one to do rather rash things. How so? Well, I have eulogised, at length, about a certain pub called the Millbank in West Yorkshire on here before. We were so enamoured with the food, affable service, wonderful views and the tranquil setting that is the Ryburn valley, that we er,………bought a house there and moved into the village. I now live 3 minutes and 5 seconds away from the pub. Yes- I have timed it and of course, it’s quicker if I am thirsty or hungry. Granted from fiscal perspective and for the sake of the little chap in the picture to the left and his inheritance, this is possibly not a good thing. But it gets worse……this area is gaining a well deserved reputation for food.

Just five minutes away in Ripponden is El Gato Negro Tapas- owned by business partners Simon Shaw and Chris Williams. Both worked at the restaurants of the Harvey Nichols group, Simon as Executive Chef and Chris was in charge of the front of house in London. It may seem odd then that they should choose to open their first venture as a tapas restaurant in a small village in West Yorkshire, but I for one am not complaining. In fact Stephen Jackson of the excellent Weaver’s Shed, Golcar was eulogising about them in a recent Yorkshire Life magazine, where El Gato Negro had won newcomer of the year. (Nice one re your award Stephen, for Yorkshire chef of the year btw). In addition, Stephen mentioned both the Millbank and in the next village along The Old Bore, Rishworth, owned by Scott Hessel- he of the slightly ill-fated egullet thread last year. This tipped the balance for me and so when my best man and his frumpy Spanish wife came to stay last weekend, we ventured down the hill to try it.

It’s set in the middle of the village in an attractively converted pub. Inside they have retained the original flagstones, and added attractive banquette seating and an eclectic collection of wooden tables; all of which co-exist rather neatly with contemporary tonal colours. To order you simply peruse the placemat menu before you and then tick the appropriate boxes, indicating whether you need multiples of any dish…… and yes, of course we did need to order twice. The menu is split into snacks, hams and salamis, tapas meat, fish and vegetables along with sections for bread, cheese and daily specials.

To start with Anchovy fillets on crostini -were lovely, not too salty and served with a sticky balsamic reduction. Acorn fed Jamon Iberico came next- the most expensive dish at £9.50, but utterly delicious nevertheless and to be honest this stuff costs a fortune doesn’t it? Meatballs came with a fritada sauce and were fine. Moist pink, Beef fillet came with wild mushrooms and caramelised shallots and a sherry reduction. Confit of belly pork with rosemary flavoured arrocina beans, came in thin slices with a nice layer of crispy fat. I will admit this was one of the last dishes we ordered, so didn’t get the full benefit as I was rather full. But before I got to that stage, we had a absolutely perfect grilled baby lamb chops with roast parsnips. I could have gnarled away quite happily on these all afternoon. Bloody knockout stuff.

Padron peppers with Maldon sea salt were a personal favourite. I love these things and the Russian Roulette-like risk of not knowing whether the next pepper will blow one’s head off. Syrian lentils were excellent- redolent with subtle notes of cumin and coriander and Tortilla of the day was a classic one with onions and potato. I rather liked it, but my friend thought it could have done with a smidgeon more potato. Spinach and mushroom croquetas were, to me, a revelation. I tried some last year, in the middle of the Boqueria market in Barcelona. At a bar called El Quim (yes, you read that correctly), and they were an abomination of microwaved mush. These however, were light, crispy and moreish. From the fish/seafood section we had Tiger prawns with rosemary, chilli and garlic and the standout dish of scallops, with mini Catalan chorizo and chick pea puree. Sadly shared between the four of us, but I could have eaten two portions of these on my own quite happily.

After seventeen dishes, we were sadly beaten and not even the extremely genial host Chris could tempt us into ordering dessert. Top marks to him and his team, who coped admirably with our respective toddlers having a “moment” each. He took them off us and whisked them off to the kitchen. Not to have them cooked you understand.

In terms of their reputation, they already have a strong local following and from slightly further a field - well a certain Mr Flinn and his missus Olga from Leeds have been, Robert Cockcroft- the Yorkshire Post food critic loved it and somebody called Andy Lynes wrote about it in Olive magazine last year. And if higher praise were needed - the aforementioned friend’s frumpy wife (fear not, she is equally rude to me) is from Barcelona- so knows her tapas. She was aghast at the quality of the tapas on offer. Well the meal kept her and my missus quiet for an hour, which is never a bad thing.

Edit- to strike a balance I did have one minor gripe. I was on driving detail so was not really tucking into the wine. The girls had ordered a bottle of Prosecco by the time I returned with the second contingent, because there was no Cava on offer! Come on now chaps, there must be some out there you can put on the wine list surely.

El Gato Negro Tapas


Edited by Bapi (log)

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nice review - thanks Bapi! will add to the list

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Sadly I used to live in rishworth, next door but two to the Old Bore but that was when it was a dodgy pub full of stuffed animals. I wish I still lived there especially now things are happening.

There were some nice things in Ripponden. A little delicatessen, the Over the Bridge restaurant and Gimbals in Sowerby Bridge. Do any of these still exist?

But i will definitely be heading back there soon.

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Anne,

I am pretty sure the the Bridge restaurant has long since gone, though the Bridge pub by the river is still going strong.

I think Gimbals is still there too, well it was in the 2006 Harden's guide though I haven't been. No idea about the Deli haven't noticed one yet- but will search it out now, so thanks.

BTW- I forgot to mention re sourcing their ingredients authentically. Apparently Anthony Flinn and Simon Shaw take it turns to fly over to Spain to get them.

Mmm, I feel another trip down the road coming on.

Edit--And I heard back that they have now ordered a suitable Cava, which is on the way (and had been ordered before my gripe above.) :smile:


Edited by Bapi (log)

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A couple more meals here recently. One with some greedy bugger from down sarf which you can read about here.

I went again yesterday with the missus. The missus is becoming seriously addicted to those Padron Peppers. We also went for the monkfish dish Jay refers to. It's cooked on the bone, which gives the the flesh a tender succulence and it's probably the best monkfish dish I have had since Shaun Hill's siganture dish of Monkfish with Mustard and cucumber. Best of all was a specials dish of the standout Pig cheeks - slowly braised, with morcilla. The latter being a wonderful black pudding. Apologies to Bury- the home of Black Pudding- but this stuff knocked the socks off anything I have ever eaten from there.

After nine dishes, apparently five is the norm for a couple :blink:, we ended with the Spanish classic of dark chocolate tart, with Valrhona chocolate ice cream. Oh, all right, it wasn't very Spanish - it was however superb. Along with a a dollop of that wondrous Timothy Taylor's ice cream; made from the King of Beers.

Bloody hell- typing this is making me hungry. We may have to pop down the road for some roast beef at the Millbank. Whoever coined the phrase "It's grim up North" was, quite frankly, a Muppet.


Edited by Bapi (log)

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So the answer to that earlier question about getting critics up to review restaurants is obviously 'rave about it on egullet'.

Ripponden, shoes and tapas. What more could anyone want? Bet it puts the house prices up.


It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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So the answer to that earlier question about getting critics up to review restaurants is obviously 'rave about it on egullet'.

Ripponden, shoes and tapas. What more could anyone want? Bet it puts the house prices up.

I admit exactly that in a forthcoming review of yet another place mentioned here. Mind you the crowd here does get aroud a bit so there is going to be some crossover from time to time.


Jay

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Ripponden, shoes and tapas. What more could anyone want? Bet it puts the house prices up.

I hope it bloody does put the house prices up- but what the hell is the reference to shoes about? Are you thinking of Ramsbottom instead dear boy?

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Yes, now I come to think of it I am---just over the border though innit.

See, they both start with the letter 'R' and, uhhr, uhhr....geography was never a hot topic for me.


It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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So the answer to that earlier question about getting critics up to review restaurants is obviously 'rave about it on egullet'.

Ripponden, shoes and tapas. What more could anyone want? Bet it puts the house prices up.

I admit exactly that in a forthcoming review of yet another place mentioned here. Mind you the crowd here does get aroud a bit so there is going to be some crossover from time to time.

Jay, when is that one due to be published?

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I wonder who it could be?


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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I wonder who it could be?

Matthew, you are such a tease.

It is, as Matthew knows full well, Alexander's at Limpsfield. Before anyone asks, no previews here.


Jay

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Yes, now I come to think of it I am---just over the border though innit.

See, they both start with the letter 'R' and, uhhr, uhhr....geography was never a hot topic for me.

Ripponden, Yorkshire, white rose. Ramsbottom, Lancashire, red rose. Big hills between, war of the erm, roses.

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Mind you the crowd here does get aroud a bit so there is going to be some crossover from time to time.

What!! Are you implying that we're loose with our morels? :raz:

I


In the long run...we are all dead (J M Keynes)

Heston's Disneyland for Sexless Fortysomethings...(Naebody)

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I wonder who it could be?

Matthew, you are such a tease.

It is, as Matthew knows full well, Alexander's at Limpsfield. Before anyone asks, no previews here.

Really?! :shock::laugh:


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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With our first baby due in the next 3 weeks we went for what may be our last meal out for a while by re-visiting El Gato Negro on Saturday. I think Chris said that Bapi had been in for lunch that day, but despite my worries everything was still available on the menu :biggrin:

Eating tapas with a vegetarian obviously means that the whole idea of sharing is a bit one way, and as a result I may have over-ordered on the meat and fish front, and did less well on the olives and the vegetables but as with our first visit we didn't have a poor dish between us.

The serrano ham with celeriac remoulade was a lovely combination, although my wife polished off most of the remoulade, but the quantity of ham would have been fine for 3, not that it stopped me. The monkfish was beautifully cooked, although the pancetta was served with it rather than wrapping the fish as it was described. At this point I was glad I didn't have to share. Initially I thought the beans it was served with were too similar to baked beans, but the more I ate of the dish the more I liked the combination with the smokiness of the pancetta coming through the sauce. By the time a portion of two slices of fillet steak arrived, served perfectly rare, with mushrooms and caramelised shallots I was flagging.

On the vegetable front my one forkfull of patatas bravas with aioli was delightful, but next time I looked up the dish was empty and I didn't get to try the mushrooms in sherry vinegar with garlic, which was the least favourite dish of the night more because we preferred everything else than anything being wrong with it. We finished with a selection of Spanish cheeses and depressingly couldn't make room for the puddings which we'd so enjoyed so much on our first visit.

Suprisingly the highlight for me was the bread. It is quite a feat for a mouthful of toasted bread, served simply with tomato, olive oil and garlic to transport me from the cold, wet and windy Pennine night to a summers evening, and I could have eaten this all night.

Both our visits have shown Simon's deft hand in the kitchen. The ingredients are first class and are allowed to speak for themselves with a simple presentation, yet other dishes are more complex and beautifully executed. The service, apart from a mini hiccup waiting for the cheese, was friendly and attentive. Chris greeted us as old friends, yet this was only our second visit. They're apparently up for 2 awards at the Northern hospitality awards soon, and on the standards of the two meals I've had there I hope they get something, hopefully Bapi can do some lobbying with Thom.

Forgot to ask if they have a high chair!

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With our first baby due in the next 3 weeks we went for what may be our last meal out for a while by re-visiting El Gato Negro on Saturday. I think Chris said that Bapi had been in for lunch that day, but despite my worries everything was still available on the menu  :biggrin:

Firstly Martin, congratulations on the impending birth of your little one. Secondly, you cheeky sod :biggrin: Yes we had been in that lunchtime. It was a futile attempt to rehydrate and refuel my body after the excesses of the day before at Juniper, with Gary and Thom; and well, the marathon crawl around Manchester that followed.

I am glad you enjoyed it again, as did we. We tried the Specials dish of a plate of Gambas this time - and they were excellent. Gently fried in oil tinged with a hint of chilli and garlic. We also had another specials dish of Baby ribs in a Pedro Ximenez reduction- sticky, sweet, succulent meat which flaked off the bone. Note to all parents- prospective or otherwise. Try not to order these two dishes together. Why? Because in terms of containment of one's two year old- it isn't easy placating him, with one's paws covered in stuff, that is not unless you have Chris to whisk him off again, so you can finish. The tortilla, was again superb and the food that afternoon made me very happy for another reassuring reason. That being that Simon wasn't even there cooking that afternoon, but away cooking at an exhibition.(I think) Nevertheless, a testimony to him that his team churned out dish, after excellent dish, without him.

Finally, yes I do hope they pick up an award at the Northern Restaurant awards. Now if you mean by "lobbying" of Thom - general abuse and the ability to produce highly untoward photographs of him in compromising situations, then I am your man. Seriously though- I seem to remember him saying that he wasn't actually involved in the voting process- but he is better placed to comment.

Good luck again Martin (actually that's more directed at your better half!) and yes, they do have a high chair.

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Mrs Fisherman and I will be moving somewhere in the vicinity of Ripponden in the next few weeks, well, once we've found a house we will. Cheshire never quite cut it for me, I'm a miserable Yorkshire bastard at heart, but I can't wait to try the Black cat, it may well influence our final location.

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It will be good to see you round these parts fisherman- though I have to say, I hope you are not as scary in real life as your avatar suggests. In all seriousness you could do a lot worse than live in this area. Whilst I am not suggesting that the Good Food Guide is the ulitmate arbiter of where is and isn't worth visiting- it's still a useful tool and with well over ten entries within a few miles radius of here, well life isn't too bad. PM me if you need info re Estate agents etc.

By the way, they have new Summer menu at El Gato Negro- with char grilled skewers of lamb and chicken, spinach with raisins and pine nuts, in addition to Pinchos Murunos. This was marinated pork fillet- cooked beautifully and then left to rest till tender. Another stellar dish was salt cod croquetas fritarda- crispy little spheres of joy with a tiny dollop of aoilli on top.

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just back from lunch here with Bapi and R and H ... (has been far too long since i saw them last!) .. and delighted to be able to confirm that the food here is indeed very very good.

We managed to order most of the menu between us ... and my personal favourites were:

- special of morcilla with fried egg - excellent. light but richly flavoured morcilla, runny egg, and some pear(? is that right) puree on the side. Good enough for me to request a second portion even though I was probably full enough!

- salt cod croquetas - very impressive balance of cod and potato flavour

- anchovies on crostini - meaty fillets, full of flavour with good sweet/sour notes

Also worth mentioning the padron peppers (although we ate the last of the supply), spinach tortilla and chorizo/ham platter.

Puds also very impressive - a sublime lemon tart, but first prize in the puds goes to the sticky toffee pudding for its genius accompaniment of Timothy Taylor ice-cream - providing wonderful aromatic malty and bitter notes to the ice-cream. More please ..

Service smiley and helpful - a lovely way to spend Sunday afternoon ...

Did try taking some photos but they're not good enough to post ... but doesn't matter - I intend on returning ... :smile:

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Ooops - I forgot to respond to to you Yin- sorry- but yes it was a cracking meal. We had another wonderful one last weekend, it's a joy to see our little one tucking into Simon's tortilla so heartily and with such glee. Whilst I wont embarass Chris and Simon by saying what they did, let's just say they were incredibly generous.

Yes I know I bleat on about places I love around where we live , but it seems the message is spreading. This review from the Guardian is spot on in regards of what Simon and Chris are trying to achieve.

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More bleating I am afraid. But this place just gets better and although we have had a few meals here since I last posted - Simon's cooking has undoubtedly stepped up a notch considering todays lunch. This is also borne out by the fact they picked up the 2008 regional award with Harden's recently- well deserved too. :smile:

They have introduced a winter menu which, naturally we sampled at length. First up was seared foie gras on gyspy(french) toast with caramelised mango. An absolutely joyous dish- the sweetness of the mango was intensified by a dusting of vanilla- which in turn, counteracted the rich foie gras. Then came pan fried scallops- served with risotto, redolent with jamon iberico and a paprika foam. Bugger me this was good- the scallops were spot on with just the right amount of crust and the risotto was cooked beautifully.

Next came baby monkfish tail with an Asturian bean stew and clams. Cooked on the bone- the fish was wonderfully tender. The beans gave an excellent contrast in texture and the clams, with their sweet flesh, finished the dish perfectly.

Finally, came a very generous portion of Rabo de toro with a horseradish mash. An Andalusian oxtail stew- deeply rich in colour with melting meat, flavoured with rosemary, garlic and carrots amongst other things. Accompanied by perfect pommes puree, judicously flavoured with horseradish and a drizzle of good olive oil.

To finish the horror had far too much of their locally made ice cream than is conventionally acceptable for a minor and we had a chocolate delice dusted with space dust. :smile: With a few other dishes and too much Cava for the Moo Cow, we left just £70 quid lighter; which was a steal for food of this calibre.

I have said it before- we are bloody lucky to live here and have this (and other equally good places) on our doorstep.

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Still haven't made it here yet, we didn't end up moving too close to Ripponden, Harrogate is our local town, and dining wise it's a constant disappointment. A place called 'The Tannin Level' offers a dish described as a 'Risotto Paella' Do the fools not realise they're two totally different things? We really must make the trip over to Ripponden.

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A wee bit dry-mouthed this morning. Really enjoyed a brief pre-dinner stop here last night. Tio Pepe tasting really good. Padron peppers, Tio Pepe, Pata Negra (really really ace and not TOO pricey for LOTS), Tio Pepe, good tortilla (a bit too fresh in a funny sort of way), and some really Spanish almonds. Great staff, really cheery (mind you local Lord-of-the-Manor Bapi always raises a laugh). And loads of people eating on a January Thursday evening. Would def return frequently if I lived nearby and explore oxtail, anchovies, croquettas etc. etc. and try their dry sherry perhaps.

:)


slacker,

Padstow, Cornwall

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