Behind the scenes at Dish Dining Room and Bar, Leeds
PUBLISHED: 13:11 28 April 2014 | UPDATED: 13:11 28 April 2014
It takes special care to prepare a fresh and exciting menu just for early diners who are heading for a night out in the city as Andrew Vine reports
The clock is ticking, the lights are going down and the actors are taking to the stage, but the people having dinner want to feel they have all the time in the world. And that’s where Eddy Nuttall comes in. The owner and head chef of Dish has made a speciality of an early, pre-theatre fine dining menu for those on their way to a play, or for that matter, the ballet or cinema.
There’s no rush in his restaurant because the menu has been so carefully thought out to balance the need for speed with fresh, seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients that are at the heart of his food philosophy.
‘You’ve got to be quick,’ said Eddy, 37. ‘The menu is designed so that we can get it out quite quickly. Our main menu maybe has seven or eight ingredients that go together in each dish, and with the early evening menu it’s probably four or five, and it’s structured in such a way that we can get it out. We take our time, but people do want to get to the theatre, and it’s the same at lunchtime, people want to be in and out in an hour.’
The pre-theatre menu features starters including a homemade soup and beetroot-cured salmon with wasabi mayo with golden beetroot and rocket salad. Mains include fresh fish that varies daily, Yorkshire chicken fillets and Eddy’s eight-hour braised corned beef hash with celeriac rosti.
And at two courses for £13.50 or three for £16.50 it’s proving popular with diners keen on quality that is a world away from the pre-packaged meals offered up at some restaurants on an early fixed-price menu. ‘We really try and make it very, very good as an offer,’ said Eddy. ‘It’s not something we make a huge amount of money on, but we want to showcase what we do for a set price.’
Like the a la carte menu at Dish, the pre-theatre dinner has been devised by Eddy and his team. ‘It’s about using good seasonal produce, and the advantage that we have being an independent restaurant is that everything we do, we do in-house. It comes from me, from my team, from what’s available.’
It gives him the independence to change the menu as often as possible. For example the spring menu includes asparagus but once that’s out of season the menu will change. ‘It’s good to have that freedom to express ourselves and express what’s in season,’ added Eddy.
Dish moved to its current location in Boar Lane across from the Trinity Leeds mall, a few months ago after establishing its reputation at Great George Street, where it opened in 2012.
Having his own restaurant in Leeds was a homecoming for Eddy, who started as an apprentice chef in the city at Leodis, before moving on to Sous le Nez and Harvey Nichols. The urge to travel took him to Italy and Spain before landing in Australia, where besides falling in love with the style of cooking he practices, he also fell in love with Katie, his wife, who handles Dish’s marketing. They have two children, Harry, six, and Ciara, two.
The move to Boar Lane, where there are 70 covers, has proved successful, where bookings are up and their reputation is growing as one of Leeds’s finest restaurants, with a menu that balances the imaginative with the accessible.
Eddy said: ‘My ethos is to be accessible to all, but to offer something that’s a little bit different that makes people think about what they’re eating and makes them smile. I believe that eating out shouldn’t be about pretence and the look and about everyone being on edge. We try to make it fun, exciting. We use local ingredients, beef, pork, lamb all from North Yorkshire and fish, which we get from English shores whenever we can. I’m very aware of air miles.’
The emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients is evident throughout the a la carte menu. There is Yorkshire belly pork, slow roasted for eight hours with fennel and chilli black pudding, Yorkshire venison haunch steak with parmesan and herb crust and saffron gnocchi, or ballotine of Yorkshire chicken leg stuffed with Jerusalem artichoke and sage, with a smoked chicken Kiev.
It’s not just the food that is attracting customers – Dish is growing as one of the smartest cocktail bars in Leeds. There is an extensive menu featuring 20 different cocktails, with the upstairs bar buzzing at weekends.
Growing success means hard work for Eddy, but it’s worth it. ‘We’re trying to evolve as we go,’ he said. ‘As long as we believe in what we’re doing, and stick to our ideals, hopefully that’ll stand us in good stead.’
Dish is at 19 Boar Lane, Leeds. Find out more at dishdining.co.uk