You may remember a few months back my enthusiastic review of Loughborough pizzeria “Peter and that’s enough” (and I’ve heard plenty of excellent feedback since).  At the time it seemed they were close to getting premises for a Leicester branch in Clarendon Park. While access and other problems scuppered that, it seems that they have now secured premises in Leicester – and it’s the magnificent Welford Place.

Herb forests adorn the communal table at Peter and that's enough

Herb forests adorn the communal table at Peter and that’s enough

This former Gentlemen’s Club (from a time before the phrase had seedy connotations) was home  in 1990s to a lovely restaurant run by Sarah and Lino Poli. It was a great loss to the city when they retreated out to Kibworth to open Firenze (now seafood restaurant The Lighthouse) and later Boboli.   I have particularly fond memories of the venue and being best man at my pal’s wedding there. We serenaded the happy couple with a version of Cotton Eye Joe, led by Leicester music legend Kevin Hewick.

I digress. But I reckon the restaurant has every chance of being more successful than the marriage turned out to be. It may be four or five months before they open,  but if they stick to the formula that has made Loughbrough such a success – simplicity, authenticity, quality, fun, value – it will be worth the wait.

 

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Round up

August 24, 2011

OK, time for a bit of a round-up.  Good news for the Cultural Quarter as cocktail bar/cafe Manhattan34 nears completion. Due for a soft launch on 8th September this place at the other end of the Exchange Building  from Exchange bar  promises a “jazz and Motown vibe” with the emphasis on high quality drinks. There will be some vaguely Noo Yawk-themed food in the daytime such as hotdogs and bagels and as with Exchange there could be live music, comedy and so on  in the basement.  The venture is run by Roop Kahlon, who some may know from his time at Time bar and Chris Baker who, understandably, decided he’d had enough of running a Travelodge in Derby.

With the 115-room Encore hotel on the corner of Rutland Street and Charles Street now looking like it is nearing completion (complete with “stylish bar and bistro”) the area is showing some much needed fighting spirit.

An interesting recent opening in Birstall of all places is The Dining Room. This is from members of the team behind the restaurant of the same name in Oakham, which is turn traces it’s geneology from the Red Veil on Charles Street (now housing the somewhat grim Zucchero) and before that The Mint in Moutsorrel. These restaurants have all been marked by a brave  attempt  to introduce a fine dining approach to Indian food – regional classics updated  and served with a cheffy touches in  a smart contemporary environment. Alright it’s not Atul Kuchar but I’ve always enjoyed the food.  Why they’ve chosen Wanlip Lane, Birstall, I don’t know (I did ask the PR bod but got no repsonse)  – perhaps they feel the city centre and London Road are full enough.  Hope to go sooner or later but I’d be interested to hear any reports in the meantime.

Getting in just before them on London Road was 4550 Miles from Delhi – though as far as I can work out this is more of a rebranding of Shimla Pinks. A quick look at the menu would seem to confirm this.  Another new development exactly opposite this venue is More, one of these cover-all-bases buffet resuarants in the style of the huge Feast India on the Melton Road. More promises Indian, South Indian, piri-piri, Chinese, “Pan-Asian” and Mexican food cooked at seven live cooking stations for up to 250 covers.  It opens in October in time for the lucrative Christmas party market. Hurrah.

It may also be in time for National Curry Week, 9-15 October. This PR event also see the latest running of the Curry Capital of the UK event. I suppose I ought to get all patriotic about it and urge people to support Leicester’s bid by nominating your favourite restaurant with the Mercury  (by this Friday). If it’s a useful tool for bringing tourists flooding in to our city then all well and good but it all feels a bit, well artificial. Just go and have a nice meal somewhere eh?

Paul Leary and his brigade at The Woodhouse

And finally congratulations to two local restaurants that have received first-time listings in the Good Food Guide  –  The Woodhouse and Boboli have both featured in these pages and deserve their success.  Hambleton Hall is listed as number 31 inthe GFG’s list of the nation’s top fifty restuarants and Nottingham’s Sat Bains is up to no.3.  I’ve not been there yet but if anyone wants to take me I’m sure I’m available.

Boboli

March 29, 2010

The Boboli Gardens are a celebrated sculpture park in Florence and, it seems, a favoured place for Sarah  and Lino Poli, chef patrons of Kibworth’s Firenze, regularly lauded as one of the UK’s best Italian restuarants. So Boboli was chosen as the name for their second, more informal  restaurant, in the same village (more or less) on the other side of the A6.

I’ve always  admired the slick (in a good way) fashion in which they promote and market their restaurants and how they make themselves a part of the community through events such as fundraising dinners for a community centre and engagement with local primary schools.  The food ain’t bad either.

Boboli is a light and airy place with stylish artworks all around, including wonderful photographs of Venice by Mike Burton ( www.anothervenice.co.uk). It bills itself as a pizzeria  but there is a more extensive  menu which  the three of us arriving for a lazy Friday lunch were keen to  explore. Each of us started with a variety of cold meats. PJ had an English take on carpaccio – ultra-thinly sliced rare roast beef with salad of rocket and thick shavings of a tangy paremsan; I had porchetta,  rolled and sliced fatty pork with some tremendous pickles and a slightly too cold potato salad; Sarah had the plate of mixed cured meats – mortadella, salamis and parma ham with more great pickled veg. These were all tasty,  stylcured meatsish dishes.

For mains, two of us had braised shoulder of lamb with a pine nut crust. This was lamb of the slowcooked rustic variety rather than pink and sweet, but  what it lacked in delicacy it made up for in flavour and it was well-matched with a lightly mashed winter root veg and a full flavoured sauce (below).

 braised lamb shoulder

Sarah had the roast belly of pork, well-cooked and offering  a pleasing combination of textures, served with paremsan-topped fennel (below). Service was a little distracted but I’ll cut them some slack as we arrived just after a big party of young school kids who needed a lot of attention, but great to see them enjoying some quality restaurant  food (and fortunately not seated near us).

With Firenze picking up awards as a fine dining destination and Boboli now open all day with a more casual approach, you’d have to say the Polis have a done a great job at assessing their relatively affluent South Leicestershire market and giving them what they want.

belly of pork, fennel

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