Kate Ryrie finds plenty of choice when local and global collide in a good way
IF British cuisine is the question, The Whitehall Restaurant & Bar down at West Point in the city centre might just be the answer. Next time you’re faced with a moment to ponder what exactly constitutes today’s UK specialities, take a look at their menu, because this restaurant’s take on modern British fayre doesn’t shy away from its influences.
There’s also a regularly changing specials menu, allowing the chefs to put seasonal produce and creativity front and centre each week
What’s unique about this menu is how global flavours and ideas combine to form a collection of traditional and more adventurous choices. There’s pizza topped with seared tuna. There are Yorkshire tomatoes with mozzarella. There’s salt beetroot tartare, truffle potatoes, panko prawns and sticky toffee pudding. I’m sold on the concept. The only question is where to begin.
December is the time of year when dining out can feel like a treacherous tightrope walk above a sea of raucous tequila-drinking parties in bobbly Christmas jumpers. The Whitehall is what can only be described as pumping, but somehow with a welcoming edge. It could just be the warmth and the smiling faces of the staff waiting to greet us; it could be the high-ceilinged, cleverly mirrored charm of the restaurant’s interior.
The menu is extensive but not overwhelming. Something for most tastes, but very little if you’re vegan. We order a sharing plate of hummus (£6.70), which arrives topped with crispy onion and bursting with slices of soft, flatbready goodness. Our wine arrives with it; a soft, mid-range Malbec chosen from an ample selection with a very reasonable starting price point.
Our other starter comes in the form of panko king prawns (£8 for five or £14 for 10), which we drizzle with lime and dip into a sweet and sour tomato sauce. They don’t break ground, but they’ll do nicely.
Main course wise, I couldn’t resist the sound of that seared tuna pizza (£16). After a suspended moment of worry that I’ve opted for a grossly offensive combination of melted cheese and fish – the likes of which I could regret for at least the next week – I’m presented with an expanse of dough, tomato and mozzarella adorned with black olives and perfectly rare slices of tuna. Relief – it’s delicious.
A detour to the actual ‘Mains’ section (as opposed to ‘Pizza’, ‘Pasta’, ‘Salad’ or ‘Grill’) brings us the undisputed star of the meal – salmon en croute (£22). The fish is flaky, the pastry is soft and buttery, and the accompanying leek and potato gratin finishes the dish off perfectly.
A small bowl of seasonal greens (£4) – in which onions make an unexpected yet welcome appearance – is al dente and fresh tasting, while our other side of Rockefeller mushrooms (£4) unfortunately overcompensates for flavour with oiliness.
We’re too full to attempt dessert, but the choice is decent, with the aforementioned sticky toffee pud nestling in between cheesecakes, cheeseboards and various chocolate delights. There’s also a regularly changing specials menu, allowing the chefs to put seasonal produce and creativity front and centre each week.
Despite the overexcited atmosphere (because really, what did we expect?) which casts cheers and cracker-popping ricocheting off the hard furnishings, The Whitehall is an excellent dining experience. It’s not cheap but not too pricey either – the dishes are cooked well, put together carefully and served by friendly staff who know what they’re talking about. The result is delicious, versatile grub that lives up both to the impressive-sounding lists of ingredients, and to the dent in your wallet at the end of the night.
, West Point, Wellington Street, LS1 4JY
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Hummus 8, panko king prawns 6, seared tuna pizza 7, salmon en croute 9, seasonal greens 6, Rockefeller mushrooms 5
Friendly, attentive and capable despite a mass of festive dining
Loud but tolerable