Overlooking a rock formation known as the Cow & Calf, an English county pub and restaurant of the same name sits on a tiny crest with a spectacular view of the Ilkley Moor. Welcome to The Cow and Calf, a cozy eatery that personifies rustic charm.
Serving comforting pub fare in a relaxed setting, The Cow and Calf offers a sense of home to weary travelers and locals alike. Weather permitting, the beautiful beer garden makes a perfect spot to sip on a cocktail or dine on a classic English dish of Chargrilled Gammon and Eggs while enjoying the spectacular view.
The menu begins with Shares & Nibbles and Starters with dishes that may not seem like standard English pub fare. From Fried Dusted Calamari to Sesame Tempura Chicken Fillets to Mezze, they seem hell bent on pleasing the taste buds of the international set. But don’t let that fool you. The food is worthy of a second look.
The Tasting Platter was a cacophony of food suitable for sharing. The platter’s standout was the tangy baked Cornish brie topped with caramelized onions. Smooth and creamy, it’s texture stood in stark contrast to the breaded chicken fillets, beer battered mushrooms, onion rings and crusty bread. The chicken liver, pork and mushroom pâté was nice when spread on the crusty bread but the caramelized onion marmalade went a step further on the flavor profile and was even better.
Because I wanted my experience to be a perennial English one, I chose Beer Battered Fish and Chips with mushy peas as my entrée. The large piece of haddock was fried golden brown and crispy and had been well drained of extraneous grease. However, the mushy peas, while an English classic, were just a bit too mushy and bland for my tastes.
While I worked my way through the fish and chips, my husband attacked his bulbous Chicken, Leek and Ham Pie. Although the ham appeared to be unobtrusively absent, the slight smoky flavor that lingered in the dish hinted at its presence. Loaded with chicken in a creamy base, it was a hearty example of home-style comfort food.
The grilled 8oz. Rump Steak that my stepson ordered was surprisingly tender and moist. The aroma was nearly enough to cajole me into ordering a portion for myself. Served with green peas of the non-mushy variety, thick cut steak fries, a few beer battered onion rings and a single grilled plum tomato, it was a well rounded meal for man—and woman—alike.
The Cow & Calf Pub is a mainstay of comfort. The price point is reasonably moderate and the food is well-received…and you get plenty of it. If ever in Ilkley . . .
The Cow & Calf Pub, Hangingstone Road, Ilkley, Bradford, England LS29 8BT / 01943 607335
Check out my other column, “Fairfield County Restaurant Examiner,” dedicated to dining in Fairfield County, CT.