I have visited this café on many occasions for both lunch and dinner over the years as a Saltaire resident and have finally got round to putting finger to keyboard …
At a stretch of the imagination, this is where Gordon Terrace meets Champs Elysées; a taste of France in the quintessential Yorkshire village and World Heritage site of Saltaire. The front of the establishment is very distinctive, proudly displaying the ‘red, white & blue’ of France; sounds of La Marseillaise and ‘allez les bleues’ can almost be heard above the passing traffic.
Tables covered in red chequered table cloths are set on the pavement under an expansive awning to enhance the continental atmosphere. It has a definite ‘Allo Allo’ feel about the place with an old bicycle propped up in the window along with old champagne boxes, empty wine bottles and French cheese cartons. Inside, atop some of the red chequered table cloths are displays of recipes in French making interesting reading if you happen to be fluent in French!
There are two levels to the restaurant. Upstairs, it would seem, is used for overflow and therefore the best atmosphere is to be had on the ground floor if you happen to be the only table seated up there.
During the day, this is more a café than restaurant offering a wide selection of meals from breakfasts to lunches and teas and cakes all in substantial portions. Of an evening, it turns into more of Bistro with a definite French theme to the menu.
If I remember correctly, initially, The Terrace was only open during the day and not on Sundays; I always thought that a Sunday morning opening would profit from those Sunday morning newspaper shoppers frequenting the retail outlet opposite. They must have read my mind because their hours of opening were extended taking in Sunday mornings and also evenings; initially only a few evenings a week but they are now open all week.
My musings here are an account of a very recent dinner for two one cold and frosty Monday winters’ night. The restaurant is low lit and I make some apology for the quality of the photographs as a result.
Even for a Monday night, the restaurant was busy enough with other diners, to make for a pleasant murmur and clatter of plates in the background. My fellow diner and I had too much to catch up on anyway to have noticed much else going on!
Our waiter was very genial, enthusiastic and attentive. We were informed up front what wasn’t available from the comprehensive choice which encompassed specials and à la carte options.
Orders taken, warm bread rolls arrived with herbed butter – this had been dolloped directly onto one of the hot rolls so was a melted, oozing mess by the time it was extricated to our side plates. Perhaps some thought should have been given to the practicalities of this.
My starter was a blue cheese tart with red onion marmalade; I had asked if it was to be served warm and assured it would be.
The flavour and presentation were good but I am sorry to say that the puff pastry was disappointing. It was soft and chewy with a soggy bottom (quelle horreur!). I couldn’t help wondering if it had been heated in the microwave; it just had that kind of feel to it. Pastry and microwaves don’t go! Furthermore the plate was stone cold; not even luke warm. I would have expected it to have some warmth given it was a hot dish, non?
Fellow diner ordered French onion soup and that seemed to go down well.
We both ordered the same for main course: Toulouse Cassoulet – a white bean stew with Toulouse and Morteaux (smoked) sausages, topped with breadcrumbs. There was also some other very tender meat in it too. Duck or pork? It was delicious, whatever it was! A bowl of veg came along too.
I didn’t need dessert but, again, all in the interest of research (!) and the fact that fellow diner was up for sharing something; we plumped for the sticky toffee pudding. It was nicely presented but I have to say, it’s not the best I’ve had. It was a bit too heavy and the sauce too treacly for my liking.
My cappuccino was good and testament to the cosy atmosphere, and having had such an engrossing catch up with my lovely fellow diner, we suddenly realised we were the last left in the restaurant.
In danger of being asked politely to leave, we asked for the bill. We then wrapped ourselves up in coats, hats and gloves and braced ourselves for the cold night air and made our merry way home.
The Terrace Cafe Bar
83 Bingley Road
Tel: 01274 533084 / Mobile: 07854 162695