Set in an iconic former textile mill on the banks of the river Wharfe in Otley, The Mill Bar and Bistro (housed in the former Buon Apps building) promises to be a welcome addition to this quaint yet thriving market town. Yorkshire has long been synonymous with fantastic produce, a long history of local farming and fierce, well-established pride in providing the best the region has to offer means chefs at The Mill have the pick of local crop and can carefully select suppliers.
A particularly sunny evening in June created the perfect backdrop for my first visit to The Mill Bar and Bistro in Otley. Housed in Wharfe Bank Mills, formerly Buon Apps, this restaurant is the latest from the team behind the hugely popular Moody Cow restaurants located in Apperley Bridge and Ilkley and also the relatively new but thriving Amalfi Italian restaurant in Yeadon.
My guests and I were welcomed warmly by manageress Becky, and seated in the small sun terrace to enjoy a pre dinner drink and peruse the menu. There was eclectic mix of other guests, some just enjoying a drink or two with friends and some dining like us. It’s a delightful place to sit, so much so, we opted to enjoy dinner outside too and make the most of the sunshine.
The A La Carte menu is really impressive with plenty of specials and tapas/small plates to go at too. We all agreed that there was at least 6 or 7 dishes we would happily order, from fish and poultry dishes to locally sourced steaks and of course vegetarian and vegan offerings.
The nibbles menu is ideal to enjoy with a couple of drinks, small plates like baked mini chorizo, salt and pepper king prawns, black
pudding fritters and devilled whitebait to name but a few. However on this occasion we chose to order from the main menu. I started with belly pork, a most unusual choice me but one I absolutely stand by! The pork was slightly sticky, cooked perfectly and just the right amount of salty.
The accompanying sweetcorn puree was a unique flavour, unusual but really tasty. It went down very well with our younger guest, Isla, too who devoured this as well as the garlic and chilli king prawns served with toasted focaccia which we all sampled and thoroughly enjoyed. The prawns were huge and juicy with a kick of chilli and rich
garlic flavour. On to our mains and we were in for a treat. Our younger diner was treated to a juicy double cheeseburger from the children’s menu (we requested an extra beef patty as she has quite the appetite – a girl after my own heart). It certainly kept her very quiet for a while! Over the table I had chosen seabass with a cockle and clam vinaigrette, saffron potatoes and wilted samphire. This dish is deliciously light and flavoursome, the delicate fish perfectly paired with a more robust seafood taste. I would recommend ordering a side dish for those with a larger appetite however.
We had also ordered the smoked haddock mornay which I had slight food envy of since cheese seemed heavily involved. This dish was certainly tasty, served with creamy mashed potato and wilted spinach it ticked all the boxes. The dishes were all immaculately presented and washed down with a tasty dry Pinot (or a coco cola if you happen to be 8 years old). Isla also happened to remark that she thought the restaurant was very posh, now whilst The Mill is far from actually being posh in the pretentious sense of the word, I believe she was actually referring to how beautiful the restaurant interior is with its Yorkshire stone, huge windows and fairy lights, and maybe also to the service which whilst not intrusive, was certainly excellent and extremely attentive from staff that actually smiled and seemed to enjoy the art of service!
We all really enjoyed our early evening dinner and my friend and I both agreed that we would happily return for a more boozy do with the girls or a Sunday lunch with the fam as the relaxed atmosphere would lend itself to any occasion – so get down there and try it out for size, tell them I sent you.
Wharfebank Mills, Otley LS21 3JP Leeds
Tel: 01943 666822
Written by Joanne Brook-Smith, June 2018