Robert Owen Brown on The Hinchcliffe: "I'm a Northern boy. This is where I belong"

By Georgia Bronte

- Last updated on GMT

Robert Owen Brown on The Hinchcliffe
When Salford pub The Mark Addy closed in 2014 chef Robert Owen Brown swore he would never open another restaurant or pub again. But the high-profile chef and author of Crispy Squirrel and Vimto Trifle is back. Owen Brown has quietly taken over the kitchen at The Hinchcliffe, a country pub in Cragg Vale, West Yorkshire.

We thought you never wanted to open another place again…

I swore blind that I’d never do this ever again, yes. But I was doing an event for a private client of mine - someone from the family who runs JW Lees (a Manchester-based pub company) - who suggested I go and have a look at a little country pub. I just fell in love with the building and the location. I decided I would do it all over again.

How similar is it to The Mark Addy?

It’s very different. The Mark Addy was a city centre location, next to the river, but this one is rural. It’s a beautiful, tiny little village. It’s gorgeous. I’d defy anybody who looks at the place not to fall in love with it.

The menu at the Hinchcliffe is more classic than at The Mark Addy. Why?

We’ve got to remember that we’re a village pub. Pubs should sell fish and chips and make a great pie. We have to sell steak, and in this day and age you have to do a burger. But we’re still doing less obvious stuff such as grouse, wood pigeon and rabbits.

Will we be seeing any pickled tripe or crispy fried squirrel on the menu?

They’re a bit funny in Yorkshire, you know. You try finding any good tripe at the butchers - none of the people round here do it. But as soon as I can get a good supply of tripe, it will go onto the menu.

The Mark Addy closed four years ago, what happened?

The lease was coming to an end. The lady who owned the business decided she didn't want to carry on. The building was in a poor state of repair. It needed a lot of money spending on it to bring it up to modern day standards. Then three months later, the place was wiped out by a flood.

What have you been doing since the closure?

I’ve been doing pop-ups, food festivals, a fair bit of corporate work and work on private shooting estates and looking after the landed gentry. I’ve also got a catering service, which is something we’re continuing with. I’ve also been doing some stuff on Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet and promoting my book, Crispy Squirrel and Vimto Trifle​. 

You worked with Fergus Henderson early on in your career, was it him that turned you on to offal?

My passion for offal has always been there but that man is my hero, without a shadow of a doubt. I grew up in a small town outside Manchester. I can remember seeing wonderful things on the butcher’s table… cow heels, ox tongues and the like. I loved those flavours. Whether we like it or not, this stuff is getting minced up and put in your food. No butcher in his right mind is going to throw this away, so let’s enjoy it and use it for what it is.

What are your plans for the future?

This is it. Another reason for being at The Hinchcliffe is that I have a two-year old daughter. This is a wonderful place for a little girl to grow up. I’m a northern boy. This is where I belong. 

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