THIS HIGH-END EATERY LIVES UP TO THE HYPE
1884 DOCK STREET KITCHEN
Where: Humber Dock Street, Hull Marina, HU1 1TB.
Call: 01482 222260.
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Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Open: Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 2pm and 6pm to 9.30pm; Sunday from noon to 3pm. Closed Monday.
Accessibility: Good, wheelchair accessible.
Vegetarian: Option available.
Family friendly? Yes.
Parking: On street, or own private car park around corner.
T hink of really high-end restaurants in the East Riding – and by high-end I mean somewhere you wouldn't mind taking a rich elderly uncle you'd like to keep sweet – and you can probably count them on the fingers of one hand.
Which makes it even more impressive when somewhere opens and immediately sets its stall out as a place offering the best in quality; top-notch food, sumptuous design and a soupçon of London-style glamour.
So those who came up with the idea (and investment cash) to create the 1884 Dock Street Kitchen, opposite the bobbing masts of Hull Marina should be applauded.
But, five months after 1884 opened its doors, does the execution live up to the idea?
Walking into the restaurant, all shades of plush plum upholstery, rich dark oak panelling and dangling chandeliers, it appears it does.
For an area that doesn't attract much in the way of passing trade, the owners behind 1884 have obviously subscribed to the Kevin Costner school of thought that "if you build it they will come".
After trying to book in at a weekend, only to find it busy, we settled for a Wednesday evening slot and decided to leave the car overnight in the complimentary 1884 warehouse around the corner.
This would enable us to enjoy the extensive wine list that head chef James Allcock has chosen – the menu boasts an epic 153 varieties of champagnes, reds, whites, rosé and ports, not to mention the armagnacs – and get a taxi home.
The vision behind 1884, says the chef, was to create an "upmarket New York steak house" combined with a dash of metropolitan snazziness, and walking into the brightly-lit, sumptuously-appointed, bar you do get a feeling that someone has put a lot of time and effort to making this place look great.
When our foursome arrive there is a flurry of earnest attention from the waiting staff as we were shown to a table in the bar area. The staff are obviously striving to make this place perfect, but calm down dears, maybe sometimes less is more.
There are four of us – the men opt for lager (Estrella and Lowenbrau, £3.90 each) from the elongated bar – while the ladies choose a bottle of sauvignon blanc (£14).
The place is busy but we are not hurried, the table is obviously ours for the night, and we're allowed to dally for just long enough before being moved next door into the main dining room.
This is the room where the 1884 gamble will pay off or not. Can Hull sustain an eaterie with such high-end aspirations? Is there the clientele to make this place buzz beyond the initial curiosity? Will diners return and make this their regular haunt? It's all down to the food.
The restaurant has been designed so you can see Allcock and his team of chefs hard at work behind the pass beyond the dining room – you can even go up and chat to him if he's not preoccupied by spiced apple chutney on warm brioche toast or plates of Leven-reared duck with sage and white onion mash.
This is cooking as theatre which London-types have grown accustomed to in the wake of Gordon Ramsay (who Allcock trained under at his Petrus restaurant) et al.
This is a treat, so we go the whole hog with starters, mains, desserts and coffee.
We plump for potted brown shrimps with blade mace butter, served on toast; pressed ham hock terrine with mollet quail eggs and spiced pineapple pickle, deep-fried breaded goujons of Scarborough woof (which, according to the superbly deadpan maître d' James is actually catfish) and grilled Isle of Man "queenie" scallops. They are all superb.
The mains are "black and blue" sirloin steak; rump of Yorkshire-bred lamb with pickled red cabbage, carrots and boulangère potatoes and two grilled "chunks" of Hartlepool halibut with flat parsley mash and Shetland mussel marinière.
These were simply superb. The steak and lamb were excellent while the halibut was "melt-in-the-mouth" according to one companion.
Bursting out of our belts – the portions aren't excessive but with a full complement of side dish extras the collaborative effect was more than filling – only two went for puds, a lemon posset and trio of chocolate treats which provided a worthy sweet-toothed finale. We bask on our purple upholstered chairs, deeply satisfied.
The final bill comes in at £206, which is excellent value considering we've enjoyed three bottles of wine, four beers, coffees, and four of us have dined to our hearts content. In fact, at £50 a head it's a bargain.
Quality obviously does come at a price, but it's not an unaffordable price.
After sampling its excellent decor, quality food and agreeable (but perhaps too eager to please) service, we agree 1884 is a bold and impressive venture.
Take your rich uncles soon.
Type: Modern British
Quality of food: Excellent
Value for money: Good
Best for: Impressing a companion
Would you go again? Yes