Design House Restaurant, Halifax

Lunch started at 12pm and finished, according to the text message on my phone from the taxi driver who picked us up, at 8.30pm.

This was a good day.

We’d eaten at the Design House about a year ago and, although pleasant, there was perhaps a bit of unnecessary flamboyance back then. Technically on the money, admittedly, but a tad style over stomach.

Not anymore; and we’re not the only ones who think so, either. The good folk at Yorkshire Life have bestowed the Design House with the “Restaurant of the Year” award, stating that the DH is..:

“Setting the trends rather than following them, this restaurant offers seriously good cooking in stunning surroundings…”

… and by the time we’d crunched through the pork and grouse bonbon – the poshest, richest and most elegant ‘nugget’ we’re ever likely to eat – we agreed completely. By the time we’d had dessert – a whipped and set chocolate cream that looked luxuriously dense but was, after the 6 course tasting menu, thankfully light, we were ready to have a short kip and come back for tea.

From a menu that combined elegance with robustness, we also made inroads into a couple of perfectly executed fish dishes. The monkfish cheek in a curry sauce was doused with chicken skin ‘bits’ that any chef in their right mind should hold back and have with a post-service beer. Luckily for us he was more generous than I would be.

The hake – cooked to the point and just about ready to submit and fall apart – was in good company with crispy skin, brandade a few sliced florets of (pickled?) cauliflower. We love a chef who can make an ordinarily bland ingredient fight its corner like that. Dish of the day, for me.

The wild mushrooms, “grilled over pine needles with forest floor garnishes” was a manly dish despite there being no sign of cooked animal flesh. It was autumn on a plate; the culinary and olfactory equivalent of smoking a pipe and sipping a warming dram of smoky malt whisky.

Rewind back a year and service was always professional but now it’s personable, too, without being pretend-best-friend-y. The dining room’s sleek but welcoming and the chef and his team want to feed you as well as impress you.

There’s style and substance, here.

Suitably full we were in need of either a siesta or a livener at the bar. We chose the bar.

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