IT'S Angie Ainsworth's birthday today.
And if you asked the 35-year-old what present she wanted most, her answer would be to see The Maypole Inn return to its glory days again.
For decades the pub was popular for its wide range of beers and highly-rated food. And like many others, I was never away from the place, when David and Deborah Lister were at the helm.
But sadly since then the pub has taken a downward spiral. First it received a zero rating in the council's hygiene ratings.
And then it closed, after a former landlord plotted a dramatic cash raid at the pub and appeared at Bradford Crown Court.
Angie is the first to admit that getting it back on its feet is not going to be a piece of cake, but the three things she is not short of are brains, stamina and determination.
She is a university graduate and used to work with some of Europe's biggest multi-national companies as a mechanical engineer. These days her working day is a lot longer. She's up at 6am and doesn't hit the sheets until after midnight, but it is her quiet resolve that is leaving a mark on regulars.
She's taking things slowly and doing things correctly, and has several aces up her sleeve, one being that improvements in the kitchen have resulted in the historic pub getting top marks (five) in the food hygiene ratings. The council website is not due to be updated until later this month.
Another ace, as far as I'm concerned, is her garlic sauce. When I say it's to die for, I mean it. Three of us ate there this week and the homemade creamy sauce full of garlic cloves, that my son, Max, ordered with his steak, was truly memorably. So much so that we fought over it.
Not only did it make a nice change from the usual peppercorn or mushroom sauce you usually get served in pubs and restaurants, but it went well with everything. I had it with my sizzling beef fajita (it spiced it up far better than the salsa, sour cream and guacamole it came with) and my mum tried some with her crispy belly pork with fondant potatoes and a tangy tomato and onion chutney.
There is new blood in the kitchen in the guise of Ian Leyland and Paul Irvine and the two are trying hard, sending out not just the usual sandwiches and traditional dishes, but some very unusual specials.
Practically everything from the pies to the pate is homemade and the specials change every two weeks.
One of the specials that caught my eye was the chargrilled chicken breast with haggis, neeps and tatties served with a creamy whisky sauce. I'm not a whisky fan but wished I'd tried it. Another was pan-fried duck breast on a bed of Chinese leaves with a honey and hoisin glaze.
As it was we stuck to the more tried and tested. The steak was a good size and cooked to perfection, my son's only complaint was that he could have done with more chips. My mum's belly pork was also substantial and the skin just as it should, but she felt the meat itself was a tad on the dry side.
I had no complaints with my fajita it was tasty and filling and perfect for a midweek tea. None of us had room for a dessert, but could we have been tempted if there had been more adventurous offerings. Who knows?
Angie has got the ambience just right in the pub – low lighting, and fresh flowers on the bar, are both nice touches – and her Thursday curry night at 4.95, and her Sunday lunches at 8.95, are really starting to take off, so all the signs are there that she's turning that sour taste into a sweet one.
Happy birthday Angie, I wish you well.
Name: The Maypole Inn,
Address: Warley Town, Halifax,
Tel: 01422 835861
Courier reviews are conducted without the prior knowledge of the restaurant