In prime position – Grill Primal Kitchen, 31 Northgate, Wakefield

This article first appeared in the February 2014 edition of the Wakefield magazine TopicUK. The restaurant has since closed but a new venture, Olive and Meze, has since opened at the same address.

“If it can be grilled, we can cook it!” – so said Laura Cheshire, one half of the husband and wife team behind one of Wakefield’s smaller restaurants – Grill Primal Kitchen, in Northgate (just off the Bull Ring). Boasting perhaps one of the narrowest frontages of any restaurant in the city centre it’s easy to miss but Grill Primal Kitchen stretches back from the street to accommodate up to 30 diners and the tables and seating are flexible enough to be arranged in just about any combination to cater for any size of group.

Some of you will know it as Grill! 31 but a recent internal makeover has given proprietors Laura and David Cheshire an opportunity to ring the changes both decoratively and on the menu. (The restaurant still carries the old name on the outside, but this is temporary matter and on the list headed ‘Things to do’).

Under its former guise of Grill! 31, the restaurant was voted one of Wakefield Civic Society’s Restaurants of the Year in 2012, so the refurbishment gave me a good reason to go back to see how things had changed.

Well, one thing that has most definitely not changed is the high quality of the food or the welcome you receive when you enter. The food is carefully and caringly prepared – the open archway through to the kitchen gave me a good view of David as he crafted each dish. The setting remains very informal and relaxed: as David says, “When people come into the restaurant, I want them to feel more as if they were coming to my home for dinner. Part of our enjoyment is the ability to interact with the customers and to talk to them about the menu and the food they are eating.”

Now, if you’re anything like me, once you’ve taken your seat, you’ll want to see the wine list. It’s ample and sufficient without being fussy or intimidating. A reasonably priced and very palatable house wine comes by the glass, carafe (or half carafe), while a selection or reds, whites and rosés can be ordered by the glass or the bottle. There’s also a Prosecco and various bottled beers and spirits.

The food menu, which is varied incrementally with some dishes being added or removed each month depending on what’s in season (and what people are ordering), comes, somewhat surprisingly as the centrefold of children’s annuals (yes, you did read that correctly). There’s a good mix of dishes with more than a passing nod to Cypriot cuisine. All food is prepared freshly to order which means that special dietary requirements can be easily catered for – just have a word with the chef – and there’s a special’s board as well.

To start your meal, you can choose from a good range of vegetarian, meat and fish dishes: you’ll find typical favourites such as Vegetable Keftedes (made with chickpeas onions and fresh herbs) and Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves with rice and herbs). Other dishes include French Onion Soup with mature cheddar crouton; Grilled Chicken with bbq sauce; Fresh Catfish and Lobster Cakes with harissa salsa; and Fresh Beer-Battered Calamari with skordalia (garlic and potato) dip. Prices range from £4.95 to £7.95 – and portion size is generous. I can particularly recommend the Warm Goat’s Cheese Salad but it’s almost a meal in itself!

Main courses are either grilled over the fire pot or baked in the oven. Once again, there’s a varied selection of meat, fish and poultry dishes priced from £11.00 to £17.95 – although if you are up to the challenge, you can try “The 2 KiloMeater” a “72oz (or 2 kilogram) stack of prime Yorkshire rib eyes” for the rather princely sum of £58.95 (and there’s no sharing allowed!).

If you are not up to that, then you might prefer to try Marinated Chicken Breast Skewers with tzatziki & lemon for £11.00 or Grilled Baby Seabass served with skordalia for £11.95. From the oven, you could try Chicken ‘Saganaki’ baked with fresh tomato and feta cheese for £11.25 as one of my dining companions did – and thoroughly enjoyed. Do have a look at the full menu on the restaurant’s website.

At first sight, vegetarians appear to be less well-catered for – but don’t be put off by the fact there’s only one option on the published menu as David loves to be creative and will rustle up something special for you. It helps if you can give him notice when you book, of course! The Vegetable Layercake, made up of sliced courgettes, aubergine, sweet potatoes and tomatoes was most enjoyable – but ask for it without the chilli peppers if you’re not a fan of the hot and spicy!

I mentioned that portion size was generous when it came to the starters; well, this is a theme that is continued through to the main course and you might want to think about sharing any side orders you take a fancy to: priced from £2.50 to £4.75, these offer a selection of potato, salad, vegetable and rice dishes.

For me, no meal is complete without dessert but I have to say, I very nearly waivered! However, and purely in the course of duty, I managed a rather lovely limoncello cheesecake with raspberry purée. Whether it was strictly necessary to ask for the two dollops of ice cream that came with it, I shall leave others to judge! If you want to go there, desserts are all priced at £4.95.

Although David has worked at other restaurants, this is the first time that he and Laura have run their own place. They deserve to succeed! Supported by their four staff, they actually want to keep things small and cosy, re-emphasising the importance they place on the quality of the food and the service. It’s this personal touch that really matters to them: so much so that they have recently run fund-raising evenings for charitable causes and they would be pleased to speak to anyone wanting to organise such an event in the restaurant – just get in touch.

This restaurant has now closed down.


Kalispere Wakefield! – Greece is definitely the word at the Delphi Café and Restaurant, Wakefield

This article first appeared in the January 2014 edition of the Wakefield magazine TopicUK. Please check the restaurant’s website for updated details of menus, prices, opening hours, etc.

I’ve sometimes heard people say that there’s nowhere to eat out in Wakefield. This makes me rather tetchy because it’s just not true! Wakefield has an abundance of snack bars, cafés, coffee shops, pubs and restaurants catering for just about every taste at any time of day – and the choice keeps on growing.

On an evening, there is an increasingly cosmopolitan selection of restaurants from which to choose. From the familiar Italian, Chinese and Indian establishments, to the more exotic Kashmiri, Thai and now even Japanese eateries, there really is something for everyone in and around Wakefield if you’re prepared to do your homework and seek them out, as more and more of the city’s resident diners and visitors are discovering for themselves. However, there is one restaurant that perhaps remains relatively undiscovered save to a discerning few.

Situated just off the Bull Ring and next to the Market Hall, the Delphi Café and Restaurant is a workaday yet busy café during the daytime: you may well have walked past it many times and not given it a second thought. Come back on an evening, though, and you will see it transformed into a cosy and welcoming Greek restaurant serving authentic Greek cuisine.

The Delphi originally opened as just a café but proprietor Alexios Apostolopoulos (Alex), who hails from Kalamata on mainland Greece, had long held a dream of opening his own restaurant in Wakefield having previously run a restaurant in Corfu back in the 1990s. When the opportunity came up to take over the unit next door, he and his partner of 14 years, Julie Firth, decided to enlarge their premises by knocking through into the shop next door to create a smart and spacious restaurant to complement the café operation. Now a year on, the Delphi is beginning to gather rave reviews on the internet site TripAdvisor.

All food is freshly prepared by Alex and his head chef Gianluca Chiarelli (Luca) while Julie operates ‘front of house’ in her role as general manager, looking after customers and extending a warm and friendly welcome to all. When things get busy, Julie can call on her team of up to 10 staff to help out.

The restaurant menu is not complicated being a set, three-course mezze meal for just £18.95. The price includes complimentary olives, bread and a mouth-tingling shot of Ouzo. The meal consists of mixed platters (mezze) for each course, which means you get to try a good range of traditional Greek food. So, with no need to deliberate over what to eat, there was plenty of time for my fellow dining companions and me to chat from the moment we sat down; no distracting menu to pour over here!

Starters are made up of a traditional fresh Greek Salad (tomato, cucumber and feta cheese), served with Prawn Saganaki (pan-fried prawns and feta with a hint of chilli), Keftedes (meat balls), Spanakopitta (spinach and feta pie), Tsatsiki, fresh bread and Hummus. This is almost a meal in itself and, at this point, I would suggest a little pause before moving onto the next course!

Pause or not, the main course is another platter comprising of Lamb Keleftiko, Moussaka, Pork Souvlaki and Beef Stifado, all served with mixed vegetables and rice.

Dessert is once more a platter but this time a selection of three different puddings – Tiramisu, Cheesecake and Baklava (filo pastry layered with walnuts, pistachios and honey).

Vegetarian platters are available (and were sampled by the writer!), including ‘aubergine slippers’ and Briam, which is a dish similar to ratatouille. Special diets can be catered for but it is always best to book in advance and discuss special requests at the time of booking.

There’s a straightforward drinks list with reasonably priced wines available by the bottle (£13.95 to £19.95) or by the glass, and beers and soft drinks, as well as tea and coffees.

So, what was it like? Well, this was my second time at the Delphi and it was every bit as good as the first. The food is truly delicious, but filling as there is no stinting on the quantity! Having been to Greece in the past, I can confirm the food matches the quality of anything I tasted while in the Hellenic Republic (to give the country its official name), even if Wakefield can’t quite compete with the scenery …. or the climate.

The restaurant operates on the basis that you book your table for the evening, so there is no pressure to vacate the table to make way for other diners and this helps to create a very relaxed and unhurried experience – the hardest thing we had to do all night was to choose the wine! Julie was very attentive throughout, explaining the courses as they were delivered to us. As well as the quality of the food, the Delphi also scores well on value for money. We came away both full and in full agreement – Greece is most definitely the word!

Western cuisine can trace its origins back to ancient Greece but there is no need to travel back in time or to cross a continent to sample the delights of a Mediterranean diet. Just make the Delphi your next destination. While the café is open seven days a week during the day, the restaurant opens from Wednesday evening through to Sunday evening. However, you are advised to book in advance as the restaurant may not open on Wednesday and Sunday if there are no advance bookings for those days. The restaurant can cater for up to 58 people and accepts party bookings, just ring them or call in to discuss your requirements. There is a special Christmas menu available with three courses for £22.95.

The restaurant does not accept card payments – so remember to take cash.

34 Northgate, Wakefield, WF1 3AN

Lunching at The Castle – Sandal, Wakefield

This article first appeared in the October 2013 edition of the Wakefield magazine TopicUK. Please check the restaurant’s website for updated details of menus, prices, opening hours, etc.

There’s something rather civilised about having a good lunch in elegant surroundings. I’ve been a frequent practitioner in my day, taking time out whenever the opportunity presents itself to meet up with friends and colleagues for three courses of scintillating conversation, sparkling repartee and a dollop of witty banter, interspersed with fine food and something liquid in a nice glass. No wonder Miss Otis regretted…….

I decided it was time to do a lunchtime review for my column and so, accompanied by three hungry companions, I made the short trip along Barnsley Road to visit The Castle at Sandal, a long-established venue which claims on its website to be “a fabulous village pub and restaurant serving up tasty, top-notch food alongside an eclectic range of wines and cask ales in cosy, stylish surroundings”.

Although the building dates back to the 1820s, it has been much extended and altered and, on entering, you do get the feel of walking into a cosy country house. There’s a comfortable lounge area with open fireplaces and then the bar area itself; the restaurant is to the back of the pub overlooking the garden. The whole place is tastefully fitted out in a mix of traditional and contemporary furnishings that give little hint that The Castle is actually part of a larger chain – one of 40 pubs across the country that make up Mitchells and Butlers ‘Village Pub and Kitchen’ brand.

I have been to The Castle before, of course, so had some idea of what to expect. It was voted one of Wakefield Civic Society’s ‘Restaurants of the Year’ in 2010 by members of the Society’s Dining Club. Booking a table is strongly recommended at The Castle, especially on Friday evenings and at the weekend, as it gets very busy. You can do this on-line via their website or by phone. I had booked the table a few days before and, on arrival, my companions and I were shown to our table straightaway by our waitress, Ruth, who then took our drinks orders while we perused the menu.

The drinks menu is probably worthy of a special menu in itself being a 26-page booklet that tells you all about the wines, bottled beers and ciders, soft drinks and post-prandial beverages that are available. You can download a copy from their website and study it in advance if you want to avoid a lull in the conversation over the meal while you read through it! Prices start at a fairly typical £12.95 for a bottle of Cabernet or Chardonnay but work their way up to a rather sobering £79.95 for a Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot. The pub also specialises in cask ales and is Cask Marque accredited.

For the food, there are two menus, the main, anytime à la carte menu and a shorter, daytime, menu of “lighter bites”. There is also a separate desserts menu.

For my starter, I chose the Sautéed Portobello and Oyster Mushrooms in a Marsala cream sauce on toasted ciabatta (£4.95) from the à la carte menu and what an excellent choice this turned out to be: light, delicious and beautifully prepared! It was the envy of my companions, two of whom had opted for the Baked Chilli and Garlic flat Mushrooms from the daytime menu. These were very well presented and looked good on the plate but, although regular eaters of the hot and spicy, my companions were a little surprised by the strength of the Chilli. They got used to it though.

For mains, I stayed with the à la carte menu to order the Crispy Potato, Squash, Olive and Truffle Oil Cake with globe artichoke, roasted beetroot and home-made salsa verde (£10.95). This was very pleasant and one of three main dishes suitable for vegetarians on the à la carte menu; the beetroot was lovely and sweet. Two of my companions joined me on the à la carte menu meanwhile, one enjoying the Grilled Sirloin Steak served with chunky chips, confit tomato, mushroom and watercress (£16.50) while the other tucked into the Slow-cooked Pork Belly and Seared Fresh King Scallops served with black pudding, mashed potato, a Braeburn apple fritter, green beans and a sticky Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer glaze (£17.50). They both expressed themselves very content with their choices. My third companion ordered a Baked Macaroni Cheese Tart served with roasted onion puree and a caramelised onion and wild rocket salad. Again, he was satisfied with his choice and at £7.95 from the daytime menu, it represented good value for money.

We all managed to order desserts – well, you have to, don’t you? However, I have to confess that my rather generous but very agreeable Apple and Summer Fruit Crumble served with a small jug of custard (£5.50) proved my undoing and I had to draw a line with some left uneaten in the dish. My companions had no such problems and variously polished off a Strawberry Tart with fresh strawberries, strawberry coulis and chopped nuts (£4.95); a Salted Caramel and Chocolate in a Pastry Pot with caramel sauce and Chantilly cream (£6.25); and a Vanilla & Peach Crème Brûlée with poached raspberries (£5.75).

Now, a restaurant reviewer’s life is not just about eating a hearty meal and then knocking out a thousand words or so to impress the readers. Research has to be done as well. So, hardly waiting for the digestive juices to do their work, I sought out The Castle’s manager, Neil Grant, for a chat and to fire off some questions: I know my readers like background!

Neil told me that the establishment employs between 18 and 25 people throughout the year, depending on the season (all these eating establishments in Wakefield must be making a significant contribution collectively to job opportunities across the city). Neil has been there nearly two years himself now but is to move off shortly to another position in the company: assistant manager Chris Chew will be taking over the reigns as manager when Neil leaves.

Neil ran me through the weekly programme at The Castle: from Retro Dining Nights on Monday and Tuesday, Ladies Night (open to men as well, or course!) on Wednesdays, Tastefully Social Night on Thursday, and Fin and Fizz on Friday (that’s fish and bubbly, by the way), there is something for everyone here. Saturday specials offer freshly prepared premium meals while Sunday is the day for the traditional Sunday lunch, which can be served on platters made for sharing.

The Castle has a lot going for it. Good food, nice surroundings, friendly staff, a large car park and a beer garden. If you are looking to entertain a client, have lunch with a colleague, or meet up with friends and family, this place is certainly worth a try. You can relax in an armchair over a bar meal with waiter service or have the full dining experience in the restaurant. There’s no need to rush your meal – the pace can be as relaxed as you like and the restaurant serves food all afternoon – they don’t close after lunch as some pubs do. And if you find you’ve over-indulged, you can always go for a walk around Wakefield’s other castle which is just a short stroll away…..

343 Barnsley Road, Wakefield, WF2 6AS

Magnifico! Felice’s Bella Roma is an authentic taste of Italy in the heart of Wakefield.

This article first appeared in the August 2013 edition of the Wakefield magazine TopicUK. Please check the restaurant’s website for updated details of menus, prices, opening hours, etc.

It was a hot and sultry night in Wakefield when my two companions and I sat down to eat at Felice’s Bella Roma in Northgate. Yes, it was actually hotter here than it was in Rome (I checked!) but no matter – we were hungry and ready for some real Italian cooking.

Now, I have to let you into a secret – I’m something of an Italophile, I love Italy and I love Italian food. Over the last year, Felice’s has become one of my favourite restaurants in Wakefield so I already knew what to expect when I booked my table and I wasn’t to be disappointed. What I didn’t appreciate when I made my reservation was that this was something of an anniversary for the proprietor, it being one year to the day since he signed contracts on his purchase of the business.

From the moment we walked into the restaurant, we were made very welcome by proprietor Felice Di Giorno and his team. As it was a quiet evening, we were shown straight to our table – on busier nights, Fridays and Saturdays in particular, when it is always advisable to book ahead, you may find yourselves in the upstairs bar area while you wait for your table to become free.

Now, called me old-fashioned, but I do like to see a nice tablecloth – it adds a touch of quality in my view and sets the tone of the establishment. First impressions count and Bella Roma gives a very good account of itself indeed, whether you are stealing a glance through the window as you pass by or on entering through the front door to sample some of the delights on the menu.

Some readers may have encountered Felice before – as he has worked at Renaldi’s in Sandal in the past, becoming the manager there, before deciding to set up on his own. Originally from Scalea in Calabria, Southern Italy, Felice moved to England in 1998 at the behest of the original owners of Rinaldi’s – two Italian brothers from his own village in Italy. Felice later set up his own restaurant, Gavi, in Tingley but was enticed to return to Rinaldi’s as manager when the Sandal restaurant changed hands in 2010. However, in June 2012, the opportunity arose for Felice to purchase the Bella Roma business and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now rebranded as Felice’s Bella Roma, with a team of 10 to 15 full-time and part-time staff, the restaurant offers an extensive menu of pasta, pizza, meat and fish dishes, with a constantly changing specials board. The menu has recently been completely overhauled and contains a good selection of vegetarian options. There is a fixed price lunch menu with one course for just £6.95 and two courses for only £9.95, and an early bird evening menu (available between 5.30 and 6.30 pm) offering two and three course meals for a highly competitive £10.95 and £13.95. A very drinkable house wine (Sangiovese in our case) is £13.95 for a bottle and then there is a rising scale that ascends all the way up to a Barolo Classico (not sampled) at £31.95. If you prefer something with a bit of sparkle, there’s Prosecco at £20.95 a bottle, and, if you want to push the boat out for a celebration, you might want to try the Bollinger Champagne and or Veuve Clicquot at £49.95 a bottle (alas, also not sampled on this occasion!).
Apart from some special dishes that require a degree of pre-preparation, meals are freshly prepared to order in the kitchen and sourced from suppliers in Yorkshire and, of course, Italy with ingredients coming from specialist Italian importers for that authentic Italian flavour.

My companions and I dined from the à la carte menu and started with a focaccia pomodoro, a thin pizza-based appetizer dish covered in tomato, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. We then moved on to sample starters of Caprese salad (mozzarella cheese, with fresh tomatoes and basil oil), garlic mushrooms in a cream sauce, and, from the specials board – White Bait with a salad accompaniment. Starters are priced from £5.45 to £7.95. For our main course, I had the Crespelle Ricotta e Spinaci, spinach and ricotta cheese wrapped in a pancake and baked in a tomato and cream sauce with mozzarella cheese. My companions had a Pennette Salmone e Asparagi (pasta with fresh salmon, asparagus and a touch of tomato) and, from the specials board, a Wild Mushroom Ravioli. Many of the pasta dishes on the menu can be prepared with gluten free pasta on request. There’s a good selection of pasta and pizza dishes to choose from varying in price from £7.95 to £10.95 with meat dishes running from £12.95 up to £29.95 for the prime Yorkshire 20oz Rib Eye Steak.

If you have a sweet tooth, no meal is complete without dessert, and somehow we all managed to squeeze in a pudding (all priced at £4.95). It’s a tough life being a restaurant reviewer!

I can thoroughly recommend the Zuppa Inglese – homemade Italian trifle (and not, as a literal translation might suggest, English soup!). One of my party had the Crema Bruciata (Crème brûlée), while the third had a selection of ice creams. Coffee brought this perfect meal to a close.

If you have a special dietary need, do contact the restaurant to discuss. As already mentioned, many of the pasta dishes can be provided gluten free and the restaurant is developing a special gluten-free menu. Some thought is also being given to extending even further the number of vegetarian options available.

While taking some photographs to illustrate this article, I fell into conversation with a chap at an adjacent table who was visiting the area on business. He praised the restaurant and said that, in Bella Roma, Wakefield had something to be proud of.

Felice tells me that it has always been his dream to run his own restaurant and it is important to him that he provides quality food with a friendly service. Now married with an English wife and with two children, Felice is proud of his Italian heritage and wants to ensure his customers sample something that is authentically Italian. Judging by my own experiences of dining here and the complimentary comments I’ve heard from others, I’d say that Felice’s Bella Roma is definitely a dream come true.


63 Northgate, Wakefield, WF1 3BP

The Iris Restaurant – Great British Dining in Wakefield

This article first appeared in the June 2013 edition of the Wakefield magazine TopicUK. Please check the restaurant’s website for updated details of menus, prices, opening hours, etc.

Anyone walking around Wakefield will have noticed the number of new restaurants that have been opening across the city in recent years. This has been very good news both for local residents and visitors to the city, with a wide variety of restaurants now catering for just about every taste. In fact, it’s now harder than ever to decide where to go if you are looking for good food, good service and reasonable prices, all delivered in attractive surroundings.

One of the city centre’s newer offerings is the Iris restaurant in the Bull Ring, run by young chef Liam Duffy. Opened in November 2012, following a gestation period of nearly a year while a former empty shop unit was slowly fitted out with all the perquisites needed to operate a quality establishment, the Iris claims to offer “Great British Dining”. But what is it like to eat there? I went along to find out one rather busy Saturday evening in April.

I should perhaps declare that this was not my first visit to the Iris – I have eaten there before on a number of occasions. The fact that I keep going back suggests that Liam and his team are doing something right so expectations for this review were high and I’m happy to confirm that they were met once again.

When you first approach the restaurant, which is just down from the corner of the Bull Ring with Wood Street, you are faced with a smart, restrained, and indeed, understated, exterior but one which definitely adds something to the street scene. The windows are frosted to shoulder height – providing privacy for diners but also a sense of mystery for anyone walking past – you do have to study the wording to see that this is in fact a restaurant. (Liam worked closely with the landlord, Woodhead Investments of Wakefield, to ensure that both the interior and exterior of the building were fitted out to a high standard.)

On entering, you will usually be greeted by the restaurant manager, Laura, who will show you to your table – and, ideally, you will have booked in advance, especially at the weekend as the restaurant’s rising reputation means that it gets very busy and booking is really essential. The restaurant seats up to 50 in total over two floors and Liam likes to offer customers their table for the night – there’s no pressure to make way for other customers who followed you in in the hope of a table.

Interior décor is elegant, simple and modern and includes photographs of Wakefield. Dark wood tables and seating keep the atmosphere cosy and intimate and it does feel a world away from the noise and bustle of the street outside. While I’m not a huge fan of piped music, on the occasions I have dined at the Iris, there has been music playing very quietly in the background and, I’m pleased to say, it is not intrusive and does appear to have been selected to enhance the mood.

But, what about the food, I hear you asking? Well, ‘scrumptious’ is the word that comes most readily to mind (possibly because I read too much Enid Blyton as a child). The menu is not extensive – a choice of five starters, five mains, and five desserts on the night I was there, plus a handful of grill/steak offerings for those who really like their meat. There are also accompanying appetisers and trimmings – I particularly enjoyed the selection of artisan breads (£2.75) and the homemade chips (£2.50) were extremely ‘moreish’. There were four of us in my party and between us, we sampled three of the starters on offer – Arancini (goat’s cheese in breadcrumbs with olive and tomato salad); Scotch Egg (with smoked haddock and asparagus mayonnaise); and a fresh asparagus special served with a hollandaise sauce. All were light, delicious and well presented. For the main course dishes, we had Macaroni Cheese (served with a hen’s egg in breadcrumbs and spring vegetables); Sea Bream – the Grimsby-landed ‘fish of the day’ (served with a garnish); Free Range Chicken (with wild garlic and broccoli risotto); and a vegetarian risotto also from the specials menu. Again, all very enjoyable although we did have a debate about the unexpected choice of Sea Bream.

As a vegetarian, I am sometimes deterred by restaurants that only offer one vegetarian ‘choice’ of starter and main – when you are presented with just the one item from which to select, the choice really boils down to whether to bother eating there or not – so it was good to be asked when I booked my table whether there were any vegetarians or people with other dietary needs in my party. On the night, we were then offered a number of alternative vegetarian starters and main courses to pick from that don’t appear on the printed menu – so do make sure you let the restaurant know when you book if this is something that applies to you or a member of your party.

Portion size is good – generous enough to fill you but not so much that you can’t manage dessert – which meant that we all found room for puddings, and portions of the Rhubarb Roulade and the Coffee Crème brûlée were consumed with relish (you know what I mean). The menu will be changed every month or so.

Pricing is certainly competitive for food of this quality. Although all items are priced individually (starters at £4.95 and £5.95, mains £14.95 or £15.95 – extra for grill courses, and desserts £4.95 – £6.95), it is also possible to have two courses for £16.95 and three for £19.95 (a supplement will be charged for some items such as the Grill dishes). Wine is also sensibly priced and on a par with what you would expect while cocktails can be ordered from a selection priced at £4.95.

A few days after the meal, I went back to talk to Liam to find out what motivated this 21 year-old chef to open such a restaurant in Wakefield.

Perhaps the most obvious factor is that Liam is Wakefield born and bred – so he wanted to put something back into his home city. He could have gone elsewhere, of course, as he has experience of working in a number of well-established restaurants in the region and beyond, including at the Malmaison Hotel in Leeds, the Michelin-starred Burlington restaurant at the Devonshire Arms, and Aiden Byrne’s Church Green restaurant in Cheshire.

Fortunately for the bon vivants amongst us, Liam felt that the time was right for such a venture here in Wakefield where his roots and his family are. He also returns to the place where his career as a chef really began for him. His original ambition was to be an actor, and while attending college, he was taken on by Sloanes restaurant as a part-time pot washer. This led to an offer to train as a chef and so began his apprenticeship with Liam leaving college and swapping a career in the dramatic arts for one in the culinary arts.

His personal aspiration for the Iris (named after his grandmother in case you were wondering) is to provide quality food that is fresh and sourced locally (he buys his meat from Allums Butchers in Brook Street and his fish comes from Grimsby Docks via Doncaster fishmonger Stuart Shepherd, for example). And he wanted to employ local people – the restaurant now employs a team of ten young people including two apprentice chefs.

You have to admire Liam. He has worked hard to set up this restaurant and deserves to succeed. Will one restaurant be enough for Liam? Possibly not: this young man has ambition and a dream. Perhaps we will see a chain of Iris restaurants in years to come. He even has an idea for a hotel…..Now, I wonder where that will be!

12 Bull Ring, Wakefield, WF1 1HA