Wednesday, October 15

Cow & Calf, Illkley

Last weekend my fabulous house mate Sophie, (Sniper to all the hockey people), turned 21.

The night before, many a drink was had, many a surprise was sprung on her and many a laugh had.

But we weren't done there. Sophie's mother, Pippa, asked myself and my other house mates to join in on one more little surprise...

Sophie thought she was driving over to Illkley for a quiet Sunday roast with her family at the famous Cow & Calf. Little did she know that we would all be sat there waiting for her....

As patiently as we could, we waited with bated breath as we looked out for her arrival.

What a stunning setting on top of the Moors, ey?!

And then... "Surprise!!!!"

Sophie couldn't get rid of us that easily, even if she tried.

Luckily, we hadn't let slip and she didn't have a clue, just as we had planned! Brilliant.

With some fresh cappuccinos to cure the woosy heads, we set about perusing the drool worthy menu whilst gossiping out the night before, which had escalated rather quickly. (To be fair, when does it not?!)

To help with confusion, in both their normal names (and the only acceptable names to type), their hockey nicknames: There was Sophie (Sniper), Caoimhe, Sarah (Africa), George (Treebeard), Piers, Natasha (Shaf) and myself (Rowbo), as well as Sophie's mum and step father of course.

We started off this epic feast with some dip and dunk freshly made bread rolls and their two sharing platters.

Of course, my favourite was  the fish platter.

The fish platter featured beer battered fish goujons, lightly dusted, deep fried calamari, treacle cured salmon and a mini prawn cocktail with Marie Rose sauce. All served with tartare sauce, smoky tomato relish and even more bread and butter.

Followed by the 'tasting platter', which I didn't really get that much of as it usually stayed rather close to the men... Hmm! It featured sticky BBQ pork ribs, southern fried chicken strips, baked apple and black pudding and a warm Yorkshire pudding with cold rare beef and onion and horseradish mayonnaise.

I have a feeling from the sighs coming from those munching on this platter, especially the ribs, that it was pretty cracka-lacking.

But the main courses was where the true food beauty lay...

A couple of us went for their signature pies. Piers chose their slow cooked British beef & merlot pie whilst the others went for their roast British chicken pie. They look pretty drool worthy don't they?

Whilst the rest of us, of course, plumped for their roast dinner. (God, I miss my Mum's roast dinners every single Sunday.)

I chose their 28 day aged prime rump of beef with Yorkshire puddings, cauliflower cheese, duck fat potatoes and veg: all smothered in rich gravy. Whilst George chose the pork fillet as his base.

Sorry Mum, it was pretty darn good. The parsnips were beautifully sweet and I'm a sucker for them when cooked perfectly; let alone the rest of the meal! It was a blooming good roast dinner in a perfect setting. The Sunday dream.

But of course, a party without a cake is only a meeting, and this was a birthday party.

And, anyone that knows me knows that I'm not one to disappoint; this was Sophie's 21st after all.

This is my classic two tiered chocolate fudge cake recipe with each layer cut in half to make 4 sponges. It's then filled with sweet milk chocolate butter cream, delicately coated in dark chocolate ganache and topped with Maltesers. A damn simple twist on two of my favourites cakes that created such an ace cake. (It kept for a few days after too so we could nibble on it in small slices as it was rather rich.)

After eating probably our body weight in food, a walk up onto the nearby Cow & Calf rocks was a must. You might have seen them before as they are featured in soooo many films like Calendar Girls. In fact, whilst we were there, so was Dominic Cooper & Drew Barrymore who were filming their new film on the table that we were sat at as soon as we left! (Of course, we took our time just because...)

The view was absolutely stunning, especially with the dusky skies of the early evening.

A big thank you must go to Pippa and her husband David for inviting us along and for all that they did for Sophie's birthday weekend. A lot of effort went into making it run smoothly and they nailed it perfectly!

Of course, students left to run wild in the fresh air on top of the moors, having been cooped up in the city, inevitably turned a bit wild...

I can't recommend trying the Cow & Calf enough, I think it is probably one of my new favourite places located near Leeds.

Amazing pub food with a stunning setting and the price is incredible for the quality.

Check it out y'all!

--- The Cow & Calf ---


  1. You're killing me. You're really killing me with this post. Roast Dinners, chicken pies... why don't they do these kinds of things in France?! I miss English pubs so frickin much. The view looks absolutely incredible as well, I am definitely going there next year!


  2. The food and views look incredible, looks like Sophie had an amazing birthday! xxx

  3. Did you get to meet Drew and Dominic?! I would have hung around too. Looks like my ideal day out to be honest. I adore good pub food and there's nothing like a walk on the moors after to settle the tummy!

    Katie <3

  4. Oh my goodness those photos made me drool! Those roast potatoes look PERFECT! Looks like a fab meal and a beautiful walk.


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