Eric's Restaurant - Lindley, Huddersfield
Sean Dodson, Restaurant Critic
Gourmet restaurants in the suburbs of industrial towns are a rare breed.
Rarer still are gourmet restaurants that retain the sense of being truly local. Eric's in Lindley manages both.
Readers of the Good Food Guide recently voted the restaurant as their favourite restaurant in the entire North East.
It's easy to see why. Eric's, after chef-proprietor Eric Paxman, is by turns cosy, neat and intimate affair.
Situated in Lindley, an attractive suburb two miles north of Huddersfield, a converted townhouse is decorated in muted colours, replete with local art on the walls; white orchids in the window, and the lighting set a touch too low.
It's busy too: all 22 covers in the downstairs tightly packed early on a Saturday evening. Most seemed to be enjoying a menu that is thoroughly seasonal, meticulously sourced and documented with the kind of care given to an antique vase at Christie's.
There's a grand à la carte and a more reasonable fixed menu for early diners (2 Courses £17.95, 3 Courses £21.95). Lunchtime and Christmas menus are available too.
Pleasing-looking gnocchi (fixed-price), oozing in pea-green juice and sweetened with dill, was a buttery wonder that bathed my partner in a warm glow. But the standout starter was the fried king scallops (£10.95): plump, pillowy mussels sensitively seared and then brought to attention by a scattering of chorizo crumbs and saffron-infused mayonnaise.
The "bubble and squeak" sushi-sized parcels of potato and carrot added to the ensemble. Notable too where the clippings of shizo leaves, bitter, peppery, cress-shaped herbs of Japanese origin, which were sprinkled with studied abandon.
Barely time to sip the wine and mains arrived. The roast lamb rump (£22) was something you want to roll around your tongue, the pungency of the lamb engaged the roof of the mouth with aplomb, while a chorizo and butter bean stew provided a tangy, although pulpous, sidekick.
The vegetables where of an equally high standard: a helping of cavolo nero, an Italian variant of kale, was all glistening and crunchy, while the palate-cleansing hillock of mash kept a busy dish calm.
From the fixed menu, a trio sirloin strips, smoky and almost powdery in texture, melted away with ease, the accompaniment of blue cheese and generous ribbons of pappardelle, and yet more shizo, balanced the dish intelligently.
For afters: Eric's offers a delicious sounding marmalade-infused bread and butter pudding, as well as a stock of brownies and crumbles and other standards of the English pantry.
A separate cheese menu sets out a choice of six Yorkshire classics yet more meticulous provenance. Our pear and almond tart was good in a museum-café-kind-of-way, but workaday by comparison to the savoury dishes.
The panna cotta was brighter, caramelised banana worked together to form a de facto Crème brûlée.
Eric's is described as a modern English restaurant -- it is -- but it's equally fluent in flavours from faraway shores.
You wouldn't call it fusion food exactly, more a widening of the definition of what constitutes modern English cooking.
The anchor might be forged in Yorkshire; the hull assembled across England (Paxman studied under Marco Pierre White) but the good ship Eric is capable of sailing far and wide. And indeed, it does.
Eric's Restaurant - Lindley, Huddersfield, 15th October 2013, 9:30 AM