We had a lovely meal at The Design House Restaurant in Halifax in March 2014. This three AA Rosette Restaurant is located in Dean Clough which is an arts, business, design and education complex created out of a derelict mill on the edge of Halifax town centre.
The restaurants awards are on display in the bar area.
We found parking and access to the restaurant the biggest challenge. On an evening you can park outside the restaurant if you can find your way around the car park complex and little twisting roads. More signposting would be helpful. Having mobility problems I would have been unable to walk from the car park as that is on a different level and there are steps to the restaurant when you park outside so not the easiest access.
On arrival at the restaurant I did have to ask for a member of staff to take my large winter coat and hang it up for me.
The restaurant and bar area were decorated predominantly in white so that the art work and objects d’art showed up against the background. Lots of quirky artwork and I liked this selection in the lounge part of the bar area.
Quote from the restaurant’s website:
The Taste…The Scene…
A warm welcome to Design House Restaurant in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Modern, sophisticated, relaxed and a little bit chic.
Drawing on nearly a decade of success under current proprietor, Lee Marshall, the Design House is stepping into a new direction with its modern, elegant space.
A pure and natural ethos characterises the cooking styles of Head Chefs, Ben Varley (ex Master Chef professional) and Dave Duttine. Bold flavours emerge from the innovative compositions, while simple preparations subtly tease the palate. With a focus on seasonal products, Chefs Ben and Dave ensure a dining experience unlike any other. The service and atmosphere is relaxed, but attentive.
Bar snacks were brought out to us while we waited for our table. The olives were in a lovely marinade along with savoury popcorn and amazing little cheese melts.
The restaurant manager spoke to us asking if we’d like to upgrade to the nine course tasting menu, we decided we didn’t want that but said we would like to order an extra dessert as the Deep Fried Chocolate Egg sounded something not to be missed and I also mentioned that I loved Petit Fours and would be ordering coffee along with these and the extra dessert at the end of our meal.
When we were taken to our table there were already a few people in the restaurant and the tables soon filled up with a full restaurant by the end of the evening.
Our canapes were little mouth fulls bursting with flavour. Tiny cheese scones with an onion chutney and little tarts with a creamy filling with fresh peas which tasted divine.
This meal was a treat from me to Mr C to celebrate Valentines, our ‘US’ day (anniversary of our first date) and our wedding anniversary. I had purchased an offer from ZooTravel for a six course tasting menu with a glass of prosecco each for two people.
Asparagus – tarragon mayonnaise, smoked egg yolk, black olive, black garlic, pancetta
This was so pretty on the plate and all the tastes and textures worked really well together.
‘Yorkshire Duck’ – potato cloud, mustard, pearl barley, wild garlic
Cod Cheek – cauliflower panna cotta, XO sauce, chicken skin, sea herbs
Fish is always my favourite as I’m quite fussy about my meat, this cod tongue and cheek was lovely though I did find the chicken skin overpowering as there was a lot of it. The portion sizes weren’t consistent with quite a big difference in our two plates.
Lamb – crisp roast breast, sweetbreak, cumin, burnt aubergine
I love lamb but this was a course that I only picked at but that’s due to my personal preference and Mr C really enjoyed this course. Again the portion sizes were very different. The sweetbread on Mr C’s plate was almost double the size of mine. Mr C ate both sweetbreads and he said his was undercooked whereas the one on my plate was perfect.
Forced Rhubarb – saffron, basil, ginger
This was delicious and as a lover of all things rhubarb, basil and saffron I enjoyed every mouthful. Again portion sizes were different with Mr C having smaller pieces of rhubarb. Loved the colours on this plate and the tastes and textures were perfect.
I’m not sure what happened after our rhubarb dessert. We were suddenly ignored by the waiting staff. No one asked if our dessert had been nice, no one cleared our empty plates away. Following our earlier conversation with the restaurant manager they knew we wanted the Chocolate Egg dessert and Petit Fours. We coudn’t even catch the attention of staff as they were all rushing around and very busy. A huge part of fine dining is the service and this certainly wouldn’t have happened in a Michelin starred restaurant.
In this time the tables either side of us were served their lamb, pre dessert and dessert before I managed to get the attention of a member of the waiting staff, as that happened the restaurant manager also came over, this was forty minutes after we had finished our rhubarb dessert. I then ordered a Deep Fried Chocolate Egg to be served with an espresso and Petit Fours.
This had to be the smallest espresso I had ever seen, not even coming halfway up the tiny cup. The petite fours were nice but didn’t blow me away as they have done at other restaurants.
The Chocolate Egg finally turned up about twenty minutes after my coffee and petit fours although I had asked for them to be served together.
Petit Fours and Espresso
Deep Fried Chocolate Egg – orange, hazelnut, marshmallow
This was delicious and I highly recommend!
The sign of a good dessert!
I do think a restaurant should think of every element and that includes the toilets. When I visited the ladies at about 10.30pm they were rather messy. Personally I don’t know how diners can make such a mess and leave paper towels and toilet roll on the floor but surely staff should check the state of the toilets on a regular basis as it doesn’t give a good impression when it looks like no one cares. The decor was nice but it was a very small space and very tight getting into the toilets. The toilet I went into had a broken seat which again is not good.
I know the whole idea of this restaurant is about design but perhaps trying to have a stylish ‘loo’ is going a bit far! The fact that the seat is smaller than the porcelain isn’t very comfortable or hygenic as your skin actually touches the porcelain and not just the plastic seat. Perhaps chosen by a man who didn’t quite think about comfort over style!
A lovely meal in a nice setting, just a shame that service wasn’t quite up to the standard I would expect and something that I think the management do need to look at straight away if they want to step up to the next level.
Mr C did mention to the restaurant manager that we’d been left for over forty minutes after our Rhubarb desert and he apologised and said he had noticed and was just coming over when I had got the attention of a waitress. A busy restaurant shouldn’t mean a reduction in service or attention to detail.
The Design House Restaurant’s website http://www.designhouserestaurant.co.uk/
More about the Dean Clough mill complex www.deanclough.com