Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Paul Spalding-Mulcock
Features Writer
9:10 PM 18th January 2022

Bar Review: Y's Bar & Snap, Holmfirth

Nestling within the magnificent natural splendour of the Holme Valley, Holmfirth has become a picture-postcard tourist destination, attracting folk from near and far. Affectionately associated with the much loved TV classic, Last Of The Summer Wine and its once adored characters, it’s a bustling though quaint amalgam of independent businesses, all thriving amongst its picturesque topography like flowers in a multi-layered rock garden.

Nostalgic veneration of bucolic halcyon days, together with TV-ascribed celebrity gave Holmfirth a healthy living for several decades. These same sentiments threatened to leech it of any authentic character and reduce it to a sterile set of stereotypes. Likely to charm a day tripping interloper, but perhaps not catalyse a desire to return. Having purchased a mug with Compo’s wellies bejewelling mass produced pottery, a return visit held the allure of a night with Nora Batty !

My own inclination to pop over to Holmfirth has for several years been entirely sparked by the presence of an excellent Oxfam second-hand book shop. A dearth of enticing eateries, together with an uninspiring smattering of prosaic pubs, often led me to hotfoot my newly acquired books and me to somewhere a little less gaudily meta.

The trouble with uninformed assumptions is that they tend to become as erroneous as they are deep-rooted. Unnoticed by my lazy eyes, Holmfirth has undergone a virtual renaissance ! A visitor to this once kitsch memento paying dull homage to good old Yorkshire life, can now expect to find themselves able to explore an ever-burgeoning array of pubs and restaurants. With nearly twenty such venues to sample ranging from up market burger restaurants, to trendy bars, Holmfirth has doffed its cap to Cleggy and reinvented itself as a stylish late afternoon and evening leisure venue. Foggy might not approve, but I certainly do !

One such bar is ‘Y’s Bar & Snap’ situated within yards of the popular Picturedrome; this gem sparkles amongst its cohort. A recent visit warranted me to share its delights with our readers and perhaps give me the opportunity to celebrate my new found fondness for a place I had tarred with an all too assumptive brush.

Beyond boasting a spacious, covered outdoor seating area, attractively laced with bright cushions and throws, the interior of Y’s bar & Snap is both instantly welcoming and heartwarmingly cosy. We have a well-stocked bar replete with popular ales, beers, and an extensive range of spirits, with reclaimed wood serving repurposed duty as characterful shelving and tastefully made solid, but comfortable furniture. A wood burner casts its hospitable glow across the large, two-tiered interior and radiates a warmth only rivalled by that of the landlord.

Music, ever the unseen maker or breaker of a pub’s ambience leans towards a classic eighties ear - the tones of Bowie, Bryan ferry and Paul Young occasionally interspersed with the quirky refrains of a French café favourite, preluding a return to something a little more upbeat. Of an afternoon, expect a chilled musical vibe. Venture into Bar & Snap’s cosy delights of an evening, and the music will subtly reflect the venue’s ability to be both trendy drinking destination, and tangibly welcoming chill out venue. Loud enough to enjoy, quiet enough to ignore…cool without being cold.

My wife and myself sampled Estrella, Ship Yard, Kaltenberg and Bombadier; a quince gin by Whitley Neill finding particular favour with my better half’s taste buds. A platter of three dips served with lightly toasted pitta bread garnished with green and black olives, served to take the edge off early evening hunger. Made on site by the owner, we feasted on a mint, cucumber, garlic and Greek yogurt tzatziki, a mango and coriander dip infused with cumin and curry spices and an equally savoury pesto dip. Simple snacks or ‘snap’ as the bar’s name makes clear, but at £10 for a sharing platter, damn fine fodder to help soak up the beer! Exotic tipples are available for those with less pedestrian taste than myself.

I’m reliably informed that the ‘snap’ options alter at the whim of the owner, but always retain the simple imperative to be tasty morsels rather than culinary delights. After all, Bar & Snap is a wet-led pub, not a posser’s palace or a pretentious eatery. Dog friendly, our canine compatriots also get their own ‘snap’ to enjoy, freely available to any owner wanting to give their pet a treat taken from a kettle jar on the reclaimed scaffold board bar.

So, what makes Bar & Snap such a wonderful watering hole ? The owner. Yolanda Hook bought the bar six years ago. On the verge of relocating to the Dales after running pubs for most of her life in London and Holmfirth, Yolanda decided to stay up North and pour not just beer, but her heart into her purchase. It shows.

Ripping out the dated décor, Yolanda set about transforming a bland interior into one balancing elan with well-appointed comfort. Owning the freehold on the bar, she determinedly set out to make this her last bar and the one most able to meet her overarching imperative …to create “a really nice bar, full of nice people, having a great time in a safe environment”.

There is no bouncer officiously allowing in some, whilst rejecting others. Yolanda does not need one. After decades in the bar trade, Yolanda reads a room with a born entertainer’s instinct for a happy vibe, but ensures that positivity is never punctured by lairy souls, or unwelcome distractions. Cleverly, our host spreads her bonhomie out with effortless ease, whilst allowing those guests desiring a little more privacy the palpable comfort of amicable background conversation, whilst inconspicuously enjoying the intimate company of their date.

Icing the cake so to speak is a self-contained flat above the bar with a separate entrance. Guests can rent this gorgeous space out for £100 a night. Furnished with modern flair, you will find a luxurious bathroom, beautifully furnished bedroom and well-appointed kitchen adjoining a sitting room no less delightful than the other rooms. As with the bar itself, Yolanda has fused her eye for design, with her passion to delight .Though parking in Holmfirth can be tricky, this sumptuous little bolthole offers the twin joys of convenience and indulgent comfort.

Simple things done with experienced and sincere enthusiasm underpin Bar & Snap’s charming allure. All the comfort of a relatively genteel, though consciously unpretentious pub, given an injection of Yorkshire camaraderie, amity and good fellowship. Yolanda personifies these qualities, and her bar exudes a warmth I suspect that is drawn from the well of her own quirky, but resolutely hospitable heart.

• Opening hours are Wednesday & Thurs 4 -10 Fri 4-11 Sat 1-11 Sun 1-7. Over 21’s only.

• Norridge Bottom , Holmfirth , HD9 7BB