One man and two new restaurants
With just a couple of weeks until opening, executive chef Lee Bennett is putting the final touches to the menus of two new restaurants, Crafthouse and Angelica, occupying the fifth and sixth floors of the new Trinity Leeds development in the centre of the city.
He has spent months visiting Yorkshire farms, designing the dishes and hosting tastings. So, of course, The Artful Diner had to find out what’s on the menu...
At Crafthouse, I think diners are crying out for good, honest, Yorkshire food. I’ve travelled all over the county, at least 500 miles in total, to meet farmers and check the premises and the quality of their produce. I’m very happy that we're able to source most of our food from within a 50-mile radius.
A signature dish there will be the rib of beef for two. We’re bringing the Josper Grill to Leeds – it’s brilliant and gives the meat a real smoky-charred flavour. We’ll carve it in the kitchen and serve it on a beautiful copper pan – customers can choose their own sides, all for one price.
Bridlington Bay Lobster Bisque will be another classic dish. I come from Bridlington, so this says home to me. I use a homemade, double concentrated, meat stock to give it body, and add a touch of brandy, double cream, seasonal vegetables and sprig of fennel. Once reduced it’s a deliciously smooth and glossy soup.
I’m getting nostalgic and bringing the trifle back. You don’t see this on menus any more. But we’ll still be serving soufflés and other wow-factor desserts, especially once the team has settled in a bit.
A main feature of Angelica is the raw bar. A whole side of the kitchen will be a seafood display over crushed ice. I’m bringing the basic techniques I learned in Asia for the sashimi and sushi maki rolls, as well as offering ceviche and fish tartars. It’ll be a fairly small selection executed really well, perfect for the health conscious.
I’m excited about introducing our miniature doughnut machine there. Again, this is inspired by growing up in Bridlington, where they are a big feature on the seafront. They’ll be freshly cooked to order, with a choice of sugar toppings – vanilla, cinnamon, herb, or chocolate – and dips of berry compote, crushed apples or chocolate sauce. They are all served with fresh whipped cream.
There are 26 chefs in total, and I’m looking forward to getting back to basics with the younger ones. For me, that’s understanding how to source the best produce, what to look for when the delivery arrives, and, of course, how to cook it beautifully.
I’m itching to get into the kitchens now. Planning the menu is great, and spending all this time researching and designing each dish is what the customers deserve. But now I want to see them in action… and hope that the guests enjoy them.
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