I had a first look at the Knight and Garter last night  – and Sam Hagger’s Beautiful Pubs have done a terrific job at transforming this marvellous and strategically important building into a terrific asset for Leicester city centre.

The former Oirish pub Molly O’Grady’s is now a elegant pub and restaurant doing good quality pub food in a way that should attract families,  business people and casual drinkers alike. The fit out is reminiscent maybe of a sophisticated New York bar, or maybe a smart London steakhouse – not opulent or flashy, but with a smart contemporary style.

2017-06-01 19.37.07

For those that know the building, the bar that opened on to Hotel Street is now a sizeable restaurant area, with that entrance now sealed off. The bar area is accessed through the Market Street South entrance, and there’s a bookable downstairs function room too.

It’s unrecognisable from its former incarnation and boasts a brand new £350,000 kitchen which Hagger reckons makes it one of the most technologically-advanced pubs in the UK. The food offering includes some tremendous steaks from Owen Taylor butchers, with whom Hagger has built a long-term relationship for his other pubs The Forge in Glenfield and the nearby Rutland and Derby.  He explained last night they’ve initially even had their own beasts identified from field to abattoir – certainly the texture and flavour of last night’s trial tasting of picana and bone-in sirloin was spectacularly fine.

2017-06-01 19.27.09The drinks offering includes the Everards range but at least three other hand-pulled ales and, much to their excitement, unfiltered, unpasteurised Budvar Krausenden lager, delivered straight from the brewery and with a nice extra tang. Naturally there’s a good selection of gins and wines too.

After spending nearly two years full time on this project Sam Hagger retains his boyish looks and enthusiasm, but clearly has a determined, business head on him to pull this off.  The pub’s not quite finished yet – the outdoor terrace onto Champions Square is still to be done but should be a splendid place to look out from once the Square and Market building are completed. Also in a couple of years the upstairs room are likely to be done out as a boutique hotel.

All in all, this looks a splendid contribution to the ongoing redevelopment of the Market and St Martin’s area.

The Rutland and Derby

February 10, 2011

Had an interesting morning recently talking to Sam Hagger, the publican who has taken over Leicester’s Rutland and Derby pub on Millstone Lane and turned it back into a more mainstream pub but also added a deli. 

Where once were low sofas is now a cabinet full of fancy cheese, glistening olives and a range of antipasti and charcuterie. It’s an interesting move based on Hagger’s own interest in food and his observation of the local clientele.  He first discovered the venue while his other pub, the Forge in Glenfield was being done up. When it became available he had thought about opening a restaurant but decided it was too close to Stephen Fitzpatrick’s Boot Room and Bistrot Pierre. But seeing the brass plaque offices surrounding him in the Catherdral Quarter  (is it called that? It is now)  he felt those professional types would jump at the chance of  a cheeky piece of  gorgonzola or 36-month aged  parmesan for lunch or with an after work pint.  

Sam Hagger - "I can tell you a story about every cheese here"

Most of what’s on offer comes through  a specialist supplier who seems to have good links with the Slow Food network of  suppliers in Italy and Sam takes pleasure in sharing tales about artisan makers who bury their cheeses in caves and all that. 

Food at the deli – and there is some really interesting stuff there you would struggle to find elsewhere locally – can be bought to take away, but also forms the main eat-in offer of classy deli sandwiches and deli boards.  The Rutland Board, for example, offers semi-roasted Puglian tomatoes, Nocellara del Belice olives, black olive tapenade, char-grilled artichoke hearts, prosciutto, aged Parmagiano Reggiano and oregano crackers.  You can get a local pork pie or samosa too, and Sam promises that as they settle in  they will source more and more local produce:  “For us it’s an evolution – a voyage of discovery”. If you are a local producer with the right credentials, maybe you should get in touch. 

The drinks menu has been pared down from the extravagance of the ancien regime, but still includes some premium lagers, three beers from partners Everards and other ales including Old Hooky and Adnam’s Broadside.  There’s a rather handsome whisky cabinet too. The space is still pretty much the same but the feel is rather more homely (see below) and Sam has both kept and extended the pub’s pleasant  outdoor space, adding an astroturfed roof garden that should be blissful on a hot summer’s evening should we get one.   All in all, definitely worth a visit. Watch out for the full story, and rather better pictures in next month’s Great Food Leicestershire and Rutland

%d bloggers like this: