Review: Punch Bar And Tapas, Honley
As a belated Valentines Day treat with my husband we thought we’d return to the place we’ve fondly dubbed ‘the scene of the crime’ where we shared one of our very first dates – and far too many glasses of Merlot – as impressionable twentysomethings.
Although we first ate across the road at the now-incumbent Mustard and Punch, we had high expectations for our first visit to Punch Bar and Tapas – having already sampled the liquid delights of Krafty over the festive period.
Having parked a five-minute walk away, we were overjoyed to be welcomed by a roaring fire and staff who inexplicably knew we wanted a beer in our hands: pronto. That homely vibe continued throughout the night too…
When we were shown to our table, there weren’t many other diners in the restaurant, and we were seated next to a family celebrating a 50th birthday. I groaned inwardly as ideas of romantic reminiscence went out of the window, but I was pleasantly surprised. Although a relatively small space, the not-too-imposing Spanish soundtrack tinkling away in the background, dimmed lighting and steady stream of food soon made us forget about the other patrons in close proximity.
My husband’s parents live in Spain and are regularly lamenting the joys of tapas – but I could never imagine it replacing my actual
tea (read: meat and two veg). So, after consulting the waitress to find out the optimum dish-to-side ratio, we dove right in.
Para pica: something for the table
Starting things off with a plate of bread, oil and pickles while we perused the menu was a great shout – going above and beyond the usual olive selection, we had capers and mini gherkins too, much to my delight. My only criticism was that the bread seemed fried, so the additional oil was a little surplus to requirements.
My husband couldn’t resist the lure of the Iberico chorizo and chicken liver pâté, so we kicked off the main event with that. Personally, I’m not usually a pâté fan, but this I could get on board with. The dish came with huge chunks of warm bread (instead of dull melba toasts) and had such a menu of flavours that we were both mutually impressed.
With Mark choosing the pâté, I got my own way with the beetroot, blue cheese and goat’s cheese salad. Again, although ‘the husband’ usually steers well-clear of walnuts, this dish made him a convert and we even asked for a second helping! It was perfectly seasoned with not too much blue cheese – which can often risk making dishes like this overpowering – while the roasted beetroot is absolutely something we’re going to attempt at home.
Tapas: the main event
As is always the case when we dine out – we soon discovered we’d ordered far too much. The prawns pil pil went down an absolute treat, with just the right of chilli, garlic and lemon. Although they definitely had a kick, the sweetness of the tomato complimented it perfectly, while more wedges of warm bread provided a perfect excuse for dipping.
We also plumped for the beef hamburguesa (you are met with two little versions) to see how this American classic might be adapted for a Spanish tapas bar. This is definitely a dish to share as the brioche bun quickly filled you up, and while the meat didn’t rival some of the eateries which specialise solely in burgers across the region, it most certainly made up for it with the flavours – chorizo, melted Mahon cheese and red pepper – wrapped around it.
Naturally, we had to choose patatas bravas as our obligatory side – and it certainly lived up to the hype we’d heard from friends. Although we were keen to go with our favourites (halloumi fries), we stuck with the Spanish ‘classic’ and it didn’t disappoint. The twice-baked potatoes were cooked to absolute perfection, while the tomato sauce was an impeccable blend of sweet, spicy and tart.
Postres: the desserts
By the time it came to the final act, I couldn’t face another bite. So, while Mark ordered an instalment of churros, I opted for a glass of boozy ‘cloudy lemonade’.
As someone who often finishes a meal with a margarita, this was the closest thing I could find to my favourite classic cocktail – and truth be told, I’d return to Punch purely for this. Although you can never go wrong with tequila in my opinion, mixing it with grapefruit and elderflower, smashed with fresh lemon, and topped up with soda is award worthy. Hands-down my new favourite cocktail!
The churros were great too – I managed to force one down, in the name of journalism, obviously. While I’m not a huge fan of sugary desserts, the cinnamon came through well and the chocolate sauce was far better than the hot chocolate-esque versions I’ve sampled in the past.
This cosy little eatery, complete with its open kitchen, mood-enhancing playlist and knowledgeable staff make this the perfect addition to The Mustard and Punch Group portfolio. Although it might seem as though the company has the monopoly on Honley high street, it isn’t without good reason.
The food was some of the best we’d enjoyed in recently months, and well worth the road trip from Mirfield, where we live. The staff are clearly geared up to make everyone feel welcome, whether it’s a family celebrating a milestone birthday, to two tapas newbies wondering how to make up their minds!
By the time we left, there wasn’t a spare seat in the house – and that was at 8.30pm on a Thursday – so it’s well worth getting your table booked in advance.
Although tapas can quickly escalate into a more expensive option than a two-course restaurant visit – the thought that’s gone into the flavour combinations here, as well as the hefty wedges of bread on offer if needed, mean you don’t need to go crazy when it comes to ordering a table full of dishes.
A couple can quite easily enjoy a night here for £40 (not counting drinks or dessert) and leave feeling suitably ready for a food-induced snooze. We will absolutely be back!