Eric’s. I know, it doesn’t sound very cool, does it? But you should never judge a restaurant by its name. Or so it turns out.
Lindley is a place that passes for posh on the M62 corridor, and it’s true there are a number of chi-chi shops lining this leafy Huddersfield suburb.
As we rocked up on a damp summer Thursday, it looked a bit familiar. Ah yes. Used to be Vanilla. I remember going years ago – the food was good, I had my first amuse bouche and it was wall to wall WAGS with spray-on tans.
Eric Paxman trained at the Tech down the road but yearned to travel. He packed up his whites and took his toque to Thailand. He roamed around, ending up at Bill Granger’s cool restaurant in Sydney, before home-sickness kicked in and back he came. Thank the lord. He scoured the county looking for a place to showcase his skills and after a five year search skidded to a halt outside number 75 Lidget Street, one-time trophy wives territory.
But it’s blissfully bling-free tonight. There’s a happy vibe in the airy, light-filled first floor dining room; it’s got a lofted, beamed ceiling, and a couple of walls are exposed stone. Along one long side is a stylish banquette, above which hang big pieces of splashy art. Service is efficient and discreet. Music is suitably sat-back. And the menu? Vibrant, thrilling. Intelligent. But mainly pulse quickening. The doors of perception are ajar and there’s not a class A in sight.
Grilled mackerel fillet Nicoise tempts. Seared wood pigeon breast, potato straws, pancetta, broad bean jus nearly makes it but I’m drawn to crayfish risotto, fennel salsa, spiced tempura courgette. It’s a perfectly conceived plate of food, faultlessly executed. That Eric’s got something going on here and I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Roast chicken breast, fettuccini with roast cherry tomatoes, pancetta, wild mushrooms and blue cheese is a quiet roar, full of taste and texture, and handsome as hell. Pan fried fillet of cod, tagine of Merguez sausage and king prawns, rapeseed oil aioli is stunning, the Med on a plate .. kerrrlanggg! The penny finally drops. Eric’s brought some of that sunshine back from Sydney. His food is bathed in it. Granger’s invisible hand is silently guiding here in Lindley. Despite the wet grey Huddersfield rooftops we’re peering over, shafts of light are breaking through the clouds and we’re basking in UV rays. Not that Eric’s a slave to the Granger way, he has ideas of his own, but it’s clear where his influences come from, and that’s no bad thing.
Iced honeycomb and ginger parfait, lemon sherbet isn’t needed but very much wanted, and puts the tin lid on what turned out to be one of the best eating nights out we’d had in a while. I shook the man’s hand, and guess what? Turns out Eric’s a pretty cool dude after all.