REGAL FARE AT KING RICHARD III PUB & CHOP HOUSE, LEICESTER
King Richard III Pub & Chop House is the latest and fourth addition to The beautiful Pubs Collective, headed by fellow local born and raised foodie and pub enthusiast, Sam Hagger.
Located on Highcross street, in the heart of medieval Leicester and aptly named after the last Plantagenet King, whose remains are buried in a tomb minutes away in Leicester Cathedral. This small but proportionately formed establishment is a far cry from its former identity.
Following attending the launch of King Richard III, last month and being impressed with some of the canapé style Chop House delights that accompanied our drinks, I was keen to try out the menu and drinks for myself and see how the newest member of The Beautiful Pubs Collective, compared to its family counterparts. What did I find? Well, there is no comparison, it’s very much in a unique niche of its own.
Need I mention that supporting local is a top priority of mine, in my home town and it absolutely fills me with joy when I see local produce being used by local restaurateurs all rooting for the local economy.
KING RICHARD III: MEDIEVAL BUT PLUSH INTERIORS
As you enter King Richard III, the large open windows at the front, dark grey paint work against the red brickwork, with an outline of the famous King in pose at the top, you may be led to think this is a lovely local pub perfect for some relaxed post work drinks. The thing is, you’re not wrong in thinking this but this place has an air of individuality and finesse about it from the outset.
A red brick fireplace, comfy seating across opposing lengths of the front room style bar, the bar tables and stools in the open window space and not to mention the medieval style chandelier lighting, gives this venue quite the refined cosy feeling.
A collection of portraits of King Richard III adorn a large stretch of one of the walls, which have been kindly permitted by the King Richard III visitor centre to be displayed here.
These also include artworks from Shakespeare’s play entitled King Richard III. Moving into the back portion of the drinking quarters, a traditional bar stands to the left, with a variety of snack and small accompaniments including the scotch eggs Dr C tried at the launch night.
THE COURTYARD & GARDEN
A door off the bar area leads onto the long and narrow courtyard come garden. Beautifully decorated with uber stylish lush green plant walls, potted succulents, timber frames with intertwined vegetation posing against the white washed walls and mid wooden hue of the furniture, this outdoor space is inviting and relaxing to enjoy a beverage solo or in a troop! Oh and there’s a little occasional bar at the end of the courtyard.
Coming back in through the centre doors and prior to entering the Chop House, a beautifully dark wood banistered staircase, which leads up to the kitchen and conveniences makes for quite the striking feature against the vivid hues of the floor tiles, wall décor and dado rail contrast.
THE CHOP HOUSE
Enter what I’m referring to as the piece de resistance.
Allow me to present to you The Chop House. Hawksmoor immediately springs to mind with the dark wood furniture, the most luxuriously elegant wallpaper with pops of teal leaf, the gold tones in the form of chandelier lighting and the floor to ceiling elaborately trimmed mirror, which undeniably steels the show in this space.
Opulent fabrics create a cosy feeling with occasional comfy buttoned grey seating and natural light seeping in through during the golden hour.
AN EVENING OF REGAL FARE & DRINKS
Our evening began with a very warm and friendly welcome from the staff at the bar. We were quickly offered drinks and made to feel comfortable in the surroundings. After much deliberation, both Dr C and I chose a Gin and Tonic combination, as we saw there was a great selection of flavoured and non-flavoured Gins on offer.
Dr C picked the local Burleighs dry Gin, with a regular Schweppes tonic, grapefruit slice and a sprinkling of floral petals whereas I tried the Boe Rose and Hibiscus Gin liqueur with tonic, lime and grapefruit slices.
We sipped on our perfectly made and refreshing pre-dinner drinks in the courtyard on a warm summers evening with the low rays of golden hour showering the outdoor space.
As we moved into the chop house and took our seats our waitress, Amelia handed us the wine list and both myself and Dr C were elated to see one of our favourite Argentinian wines, the Amaru Malbec from the El Esteco estate.
It was a no brainer, being a school night we resigned ourselves to a glass each of the Malbec, which favoured rich notes and tones of baked plums, raisins and hints of chocolate and sweet vanilla pods.
While you wait
As soon as Amelia handed me the menu, I have to admit, my eyes were fixated on the “while you wait” section, which I believe would go perfectly with pre-dinner drinks or even as you wait for the starters. Anyway, we very quickly picked our favourites to be the friend Padron Peppers and Polenta fritters. Wow, wow, wow what a bang to the start of the evening this was! These small morsels of finger food delivered on flavour, taste and looks in equivalent tri measures!
The fried padron peppers, delicately sprinkled with sea salt, famously served as tapas in northern Spain didn’t look or taste out of place from their original habitat. A slight piquant edge makes them a lighter moreish friend of the drink!
The deep fried polenta balls with spring onion and a lime mayonnaise again were just the little crispy on the outside, soft explosion required to gear you up for an exciting evening of food ahead.
To start, the lady chose Cauliflower Karaage. Karaage meaning ‘tang fry’ is a Japanese technique whereby the cauliflower, in this case, is coated with flavoured breadcrumbs and subsequently deep-fried. Previously I have only seen this offered as a non-vegetarian option, however King Richard III have picked cauliflower wisely as it work impeccably.
The result was a perfect crisp outside, yet the cauliflower was still cooked to perfection and al denté inside. Small sliced red chillies were mixed in with the Karaage which along with the Sriracha mayonnaise, were the perfect match.
The gent opted for Devilled Chicken Livers. Perfectly seasoned livers cooked on a Japanese style robata grill and served on a bed of lightly grilled sourdough. Dr C was speechless and to this day he claims these are and forever be his favourite! High praise from the gent indeed.
A side note to the technique of Robata Cooking.
Head chef Chris Owens, who I shall introduce to you a little later, explained that he had years of experience cooking on a Robatataki grill, often shortened to Robata. It refers to a method of cooking, similar to barbecue in which items of food are cooked at varying speeds over hot charcoal. Traditionally, the food consists of a combination of morsels of seafood and vegetables, but other kinds of food that are suitable for grilling may also be offered. The Robata cooking style is different from other Japanese charcoal cooking in that it uses a wide, flat open fireplace in the style of an irori, rather than a shichirin or other type of charcoal cooking implement.
With the taste of this fine quality chop house most welcomingly lingering in our palettes, we took a short break to decide on our mains. For me it was the Spinach Gnocchi in a creamy Truffle Sauce and Dr C opted for the 400 g Barnsley lamb chop topped with a Salsa Verde. He paired his favourite meat with crispy chunky beef dripping fries, which can also be fried to accommodate vegetarians and vegans.
The Gnocchi tasted soft and fresh and was served with small button mushroom halves and spinach in a rich truffle sauce topped with crunchy breadcrumbs and baked. The truffle sauce gave this dish a stately richness and the spinach and mushrooms in equal quantities cut through the soft gnocchi perfectly.
Dr C’s lamb chop was cooked to perfection. He explained it was cooked medium rare, succulent, not tough at all with a good amount of meat on the bone per serving. He recommends a side order with the lamb chop of either vegetables or the Beef dripping fries he had. He also reported back the chunky chips were crispy on the outside but nice and soft on the inside.
I deliberately intended not to order a side dish as I’d had a little sneaky peek at the desserts beforehand and knew that I’d go with the apple crumble crème brûlée. The hardened caramelised sugar top was spot on and the custard was the perfect consistency with tiny pieces of soft apple. The dish was topped with a layer of crumble, which married the two two dessert variations together.
Dr C chose the chocolate brownie with Judes pistachio ice-cream to end the meal. The brownie was served warm, with a rich firm texture and surprisingly melted in the mouth. The accompanying ice-cream was not an overpowering of pistachio, allowing the brownie to be the main star of the show.
The presentation of the dish was beautiful and I think I may have to try on my return.
Additionally, there is also a fantastic selection of cheeses available on the cheese board. We are saving this for our next visit!
MEET THE HEAD CHEF
It was only fair play to personally deliver compliments to the chef and it was a pleasure to meet King Richard III’s head chef, Chris Owens. A very talented gent indeed, who explained all about the Japanese Robata style and shared some future plans of increasing choices on the menu. This especially as you may have noticed there is only one vegetarian starter and main on the menu, he is working to develop more vegan and vegetarian options. It was a real privilege to meet Chef Chris and learn of how he hopes to develop the menu. An exciting time for King Richard III and its clientele guaranteed in the upcoming months.
Fine locally sourced products where possible, attentive and high quality service from the entire team, beautiful quaint surroundings with a relaxed atmosphere; allow the food, the main star of the show to shine the brightest.
King Richard III may be one of the Beautiful Pubs Collective’s smallest venues but in my opinion packs the loudest punch. I have a great personal love for the brand for so many reasons and this almost boutique-style pub and chop house has bought a unique, much welcomed niche to Leicester City Centre. So you want to know if I’ll be back? Return visit planning is in progress as I type!
Many thanks to the staff at King Richard III, especially Amelia, Bronwyn and Chris for making our evening so special.
Disclaimer: Our evening at King Richard III was complimentary however all views, opinions and photography are my own and therefore remain a copyright of be-lavie.
King Richard III Pub & Chop House
70 Highcross Street
Tel. 0116 296 1527
For reservations and menu details please use King Richard III’s website
You can read all about my other reviews for The beautiful Pubs Collective’s Knight & Garter below:
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