Holmfirth has been one of those places I rarely visit, especially for beer. I have found the pubs there uninspiring and the beer range equally so. However when I heard The White Hart had closed and been taken over by Jonny Holmes, late of the Swan and Commercial at Slaithwaite, I hoped for better things, and a trip up there to check it out proved I was right, Holmfirth now has a pub to be proud of.
It is situated in a prime position in the town, just across from the bus station and a small car park, ideally placed to take advantage of the hordes of trippers who come to the town.
It actually opened its doors for business last week after a complete refit and renovation, but I thought I would give it a few days before I visited. I cannot remember the pub in its old state, but can recall it was not the sort of place I would want to drink, Jonny has changed all that. It is now called 'Brambles' and has the feel of a cafe bar rather than a pub. Outside it looks welcoming, and inside does nothing to dispel that. It is light and airy, plenty of glass and steel, and exposed stone walls in some parts reinforce the contemporary feel. The decor is sympathetic and understated but just adds to the ambience of the place. It is a large space that is naturally divided into different areas, with plenty of seating and small tables geared up to cater for all sorts of tastes.
I called in around midday, and it was fairly full already with a mixture of people, either drinking, drinking coffee, or sampling the food. I discovered it opened at 10am, and according to Jonny does good business from the time the doors open. Most of the early trade come in for coffee, but the food and drink picks up during the day. The food menu is interesting and different and from what I saw coming out of the kitchen looked and smelled superb. The central bar serves 8 real ales, one house beer from Empire on my visit, and others from Phoenix, Brew Co, Milltown, and Great Newsome, that were reasonably priced and in good nick. There is a selection of lagers and foreign beers available too.
All in all, this is what Holmfirth has been lacking for years, and is a great credit to Jonny and his team, I can only see it going from strength to strength as word gets about. I will certainly be returning before long.