Home is one of the most hotly anticipated openings of 2017, but what can you expect from the new fine dining institution? We caught up with Elizabeth Cottam and Mark Owens to find out…
Home. It’s not a word you’d normally associate with fine dining, but that’s about to change as Elizabeth Cottam and Mark Owens launch their new Leeds restaurant. They both have serious culinary creds – Cottam was a semi-finalist on last year’s MasterChef and recently ran a sell-out residency at The New Ellington, while Owens is the former Head Chef of The Box Tree and The Star at Harome, both Michelin-starred restaurants. It’s no wonder their new venture has caused such a stir.
“The name and concept are inspired by our love of fine dining, rooted in a strong sense of heritage and provenance, offered with a welcoming atmosphere,” Cottam explained. “When I ran the residency at The New Ellington – people commented that it felt like they’d been invited round to my home for dinner because I took the time to give everyone a warm welcome, explain every dish and focus our service on making people feel relaxed and ‘at home’ whilst they were with us.”
The idea here is that you can do fine dining in a restaurant that’s totally down to earth – think exceptional food and service, without the la-de-da attitude. It’s about making fine dining fun again, by breaking down barriers and turning the ordinary into something extraordinary. Of course, that doesn’t mean it comes cheap – you get what you pay for here.
They’ll be serving up three different tasting menus. You can get three courses for £30 or five courses for £50 at lunch time, with a 10-course tasting menu for £70 in the evenings. They all make the most of local, seasonal produce, showcasing the best that Britain has to offer in new and interesting ways, and they’ll be changing on a monthly basis, so you’ve got the perfect excuse to come back.
For the launch, they’ve created a menu of summer-obsessed dishes. Well, actually, they’ve created two – vegetarians get their own dedicated menu at Home – but they’re both surprisingly simple and grounded in our rich culinary heritage. There are plenty of dishes you’ll recognise, like lobster thermidor and peach melba, but there are also a few that are so familiar, you’ll wonder how they’ve turned them into a fine dining experience – it’s not often that you see tea & toast on a dinner menu, but that sense of rediscovery is all part of the fun.
And then there’s a curve ball. “We have also just announced our Sunday lunch tasting menu, which is everything we love about Sunday lunch and British produce offered across five courses,” Owens told us – it’s a Sunday roast, deconstructed and served as a tasting menu, which just about blew our mind. “For August this includes pork belly with roasted pickled blackberries, and roasted loin and braised shoulder of lamb with a red wine glaze.”
Alongside the food, they have a carefully curated menu of drinks, and they’re doing something a little different with the wine. Like the food, it sits on the upper end of the scale, but they’re using a flat-rate mark up rather than a percentage system to make it more affordable, so wines that are usually really expensive will be a lot more doable. They’ve also got a monthly wine club in the pipeline.
But it’s not all wine. They’ve created an intriguing menu of grown up cocktails, all made with high-end spirits, and all prepped ahead. That’s right, you won’t have to wait an age for your drink here because they’ll be creating their own infusions and fruit preparations that are ready to go on the night.
The new restaurant is opening in an incredible location, on the oldest street in Leeds. They’ve found a spot on Kirkgate and it’s absolutely filled with character. For Cottam, it was much about the heritage as the location, “As someone who is Leeds born and bred, I’m really pleased to have found a place with such a rich Leeds heritage, and it’s a really interesting part of the city centre. We’re seconds away from the Victoria Quarter with all that has to offer and thanks to developments nearby it’s transforming every week. We hope we can continue to add to this transformation and regeneration. I also love its position looking over Leeds Market, one of the most beautiful buildings in the country. It anchors us next to a historic place where fresh produce has been bought for centuries, which is kinda cool.”
The restaurant has impossibly high ceilings with a series of cool, unusual skylights that run across the length of the building, creating a beautiful, naturally lit space that’s transformed into a warm, intimate dining room when the sun sets. They’ve put their own stamp on it with dining sofas, velvet chairs, soft linen table cloths and colourful tableware – it’s playful and relaxed, in-line with their ethos.
And that’s even more true of the bar, which is open to diners before or after they eat. It’s a warm, homely room with original floorboards, a real fireplace and floor to ceiling windows – it’s distinctly different to the restaurant, but the two still feel related.
In Cottam’s words, “We’ve created two distinct yet connected areas of the restaurant. The venue offers a lot of space and atmosphere, which we’ve most definitely worked with. The style is relatively eclectic but there’s harmony in the elements we’ve chosen to sit side by side. Think classic contemporary British, reclaimed floorboards, Danish design-influenced furnishing and panelled walls painted in contemporary heritage colours.”
Home, 16/17 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6BY. Open from Thursday to Sunday. 3-course & 5-course menu available Thursday to Saturday lunches, 5-course menu available Thursday evenings, 10-course menu available Thursday to Saturday evenings, 5-course Sunday lunch menu available all day Sunday.