Yorkshire Life Lunch - The Butchers Arms, Hepworth, West Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 08:57 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:28 20 February 2013
Guests enjoy traditional fare with added finesse at The Butchers Arms, Hepworth, West Yorkshire: our Dining Pub of the Year. Jo Haywood pulls up a chair<br/>Photographs by Andy Bulmer
Bar open noon to 11pm, Monday to Saturday; noon to 10.30pm, Sunday.
Restaurant open noon to 2.30pm and 6pm to 10pm, Monday to Saturday; 11am to 1pm for brunch, 1pm to 6pm for lunch and 6pm to 9pm for dinner, Sunday.
Tim Bilton is not just an award-winning chef, hes a brand. Just 15 months after opening his first restaurant, hes already got his sights set on higher things, all of which will carry the already recognisable TB logo.
Its hard to believe its been little more than a year since he and his wife Adele took over The Butchers Arms in Hepworth, a miniscule village on the fringes of Holmfirth in West Yorkshire. So much has happened in the ensuing months, that his name already slips quite comfortably into conversations alongside more established Yorkshire brands like Andrew Pern and Anthony Flinn. But awards, commendations and approbation are not the aim of the game on the day of our Yorkshire Life lunch. Tim just wants to cook.
Today is all about saying thank you, he said, clearly itching to get back into the kitchen. I have a very strong relationship with our suppliers and couldnt do the work I do without the fantastic produce they supply. Thats why Ive invited them here today to say thank you for their support during our first year. Its not always been easy, but they have been with us every step of the way.
As thank yous go, this beat a box of All Gold and a sad bunch of daffs by a Yorkshire mile. The 50 or so guests were presented with six delicious courses, starting with silky soft ceps (not easy to say after a couple of glasses of champagne) and building beautifully from a smooth, creamy pumpkin veloute served in individual squash soup bowls to seared sea bass with wonderfully piquant pickled shallots, butter-soft venison on the bone, an arctic roll that warmed the mouth with sweet ginger before cooling it with even sweeter honeycomb ice cream and a flavoursome Yorkshire cheese board.
Each course was a nod of thanks to a particular supplier, their ingredients given due diligence on the notated menu. They also helped to build an accurate culinary picture of what Tim Biltons cooking is all about.
I do classic British cooking with a twist, he said. Its very much rich man, poor man food, with something like a venison cottage pie showing how you can take an ordinary every day dish and make it special.
For me, its all about the ingredients. I find the best local suppliers and champion them. You just have to look at my menu to see the strength of my commitment to them.
A healthy respect for quality ingredients was something he picked up while working with his mentor, Raymond Blanc (or Mr Blanc as he still refers to him with undiluted reverence). They shared a kitchen for two years at Le Manoir Aux QuatSaisons, Blancs multi-award winning, two Michelin-starred Oxfordshire restaurant.
I said to my mate that by the time Im 18 Im going to have eaten in one of Mr Blancs restaurants, Tim said. But I went one better and got a job with him as a commis chef. I learned so much from him, how to source the best ingredients, how to treat them with respect and how to prepare a plate that sings. Hes such a great man.
Tims passion for cooking started when he was 13 and took a pocket money job washing up at the Swiss Cottage in Pontefract. I watched the chefs working in amongst all the steam and shouting of the kitchen and I just knew I wanted to be in there with them, he said.
He worked hard, grafting and crafting his way up the ladder until he eventually found himself receiving plaudits and rave reviews for his work in the kitchen at Bibis, the renowned Leeds bistro. But he knew he wouldnt be completely happy until he had his own restaurant.
He spotted The Butchers Arms, then completely dead I mean six feet under and somehow managed to convince his wife that selling their home during the worst credit crunch in a generation and investing all their money in a new restaurant was a wise move.
What can I say? She must have had faith in me, said Tim.
A faith that has seen her and their son Henry living over the shop for more than a year (theyre now looking for a new family home) and unstintingly supporting her husband in his quest for brand recognition in a notoriously fickle industry.
A higher media profile for me means a higher media profile for my business, said Tim, who will be taking part in the next series of BBC2s Great British Menu, which pits top class chefs from around the country against each other in furiously fought one-to-one challenges.
But will the expansion of brand TB ultimately mean the man himself spends less and less time cooking?
I love it too much to ever stop its basically who I am, he said. Im happiest and most comfortable in a kitchen with my butchers apron on.