Thirty-seven-year-old chef Adrian Jones has swapped London for an idyllic spot a couple of miles outside Halifax, West Yorkshire. As far as he's concerned, it's the perfect setting.
"The core of my cooking has always been British," says Jones, who until 1999 was Gary Rhodes's sous chef at the Castle, Taunton. "And pubs have always traditionally been the place where you could find great British food."
Jones was recently head chef at the upmarket restaurant Jaks in London's Chelsea, and before that at the acclaimed Chapter Two in Blackheath, but has no plans to weigh this rural spot down with urban sophistication.
The very British menu is described with British reserve - steak and chips (£8.95), bacon and egg (£5.25), and even roast chicken livers with black pudding stuffing (£5.25).
"If you keep things understated, then when you hit the customers with something more, it's like 'pow!' - you surprise them," he says.
Bacon and egg comes as a thick steak of Wiltshire dry-cured with a soft-boiled and deep-fried egg perched on top, plus a generous portion of fat chips. It's an everyday combination made novel by its presentation, which is fun and far from fussy.
Other British treats include roast Cornish cod served with crispy whitebait and a leek and potato "pye" (£14.50). The pye is no spelling mistake - it's just that Jones likes his details. "I was reading through an old British cookery book, and I read that pye with a 'y' is a pie made with mash, not pastry."
Also popular are the wild mushroom dumplings lightly heated through in a wild mushroom broth with pieces of ham hock to give it a rustic edge (£5.25). "Though the dumplings are heavy, the broth keeps it light," says Jones. Sausages might be pigeon and black pudding, lamb, or pure pork meat (£8.95 with mash).
Jones stresses that the menu has no fixed formula. There are two menus: one with a list of 10 dishes that can be taken as either starters (£5.25) or mains (£8.25), and the other which has six starters (again at £5.25) and seven more expensive mains (£14.50). Any combination, and as much or as little, can be ordered, either upstairs or down.
Upstairs, owners Simon and Caitlin Heaton have created a smarter dining room (48 seats) with white linen tablecloths and high-backed chairs. Downstairs, the pub retains its dark, warren-like character, with about 70 seats, plus an extra 40 possible seats outside. The only difference upstairs is that the service style is upped. Food presentation is the same.
"The Roux brothers said that British pubs were like the bistros of France," says Jones. "It's the Everyman place, where the working man eats next to the suit." Accordingly, average spend can range from £11 to £29. Diners are just as likely to be local farmers as they are passing businessmen on their way between Leeds and Manchester.
Fun is there as well. "We use Fingers of Fudge with the fudge panna cotta, and I even make Crunchie ice-cream (both £5.25). It's just a bit of humour, sticking my fingers up at people who say that bought-in stuff can never taste good."
And what about the lamb kebab (£5.25) - modern British? "No, actually that was just a joke," laughs Jones, "a challenge to see if I could get it on the menu. So we get a good fillet of lamb, skewer it over the grill and serve it with a mint and chilli cabbage." The man and his brigade are obviously enjoying themselves.Shibden Mill Inn, Shibden, Halifax HX3 7UL.
Tel: 01422 365840.
Web: www.shibdenmillinn.com Chef's cheat
"When you are boiling potatoes, whether new or Maris Piper, for mashing - the only ones you should use - bring to the boil, then turn the heat right down. Cooking them very slowly like this makes sure the outsides are not overcooked before the insides are ready."What's on the menu
* Classic ploughman's lunch, home-baked bread and chutneys, £5.25
* Macaroni cheese with smoked trout, £5.25
* Grilled sardines on toast, tomato chutney, £5.25
* Roast lamb salad, tomatoes, garlic croûtes, parmentier potatoes, £14.50
* Curried smoked haddock risotto, baby spinach, £14.50
* Slow-cooked pork, saffron new potatoes, spinach, £14.50
* Vanilla custard slice, raspberry compote, £4.25
* Selection of British cheeses, £5.25By Dan Bignold