Restaurant review: 1884 Dock Street Kitchen

My review of Hull’s newest upmarket eaterie.

So close. So very close to being excellent.

The newest addition to East Yorkshire’s culinary revolution is the big, bold, ambitious 1884 Dock Street Kitchen, which stands by Hull’s marina. It wants to be a modern, New York-style steak house and offers a manly whiff of opulence alongside well-designed, locally-sourced dishes. It reminds me very much of Manhattan’s Tribeca Grill, which, I’m sure, is what they’re aiming for and it is possibly on the verge of great things. But there are niggles.

1884 DSK (as I’ll abbreviate it, no doubt to their annoyance) has taken many months and mucho lucre to bring to life. It stands in a converted shipping office, which many Hullensians will remember from its days as a bar called Baltic Wharf. It was one of the city’s more upmarket and well-designed hostelries, until it fell victim to the ingress of the surrounding sticky-carpet lager circuit. Sadly, it went rather dismally downhill before closing altogether when the refreshment seekers eventually migrated to Princes Ave.

There must be something about this building, though, as the 1884 DSK team have taken the shell and built a handsome, hearty new interior. There are glass cabinets full of bottles of wine and champagne, those trendy lamps that look like someone’s gone mad with some coat hangers and a pair of pliers and a serious-looking open kitchen. It is also (hotels aside) easily the biggest dining room in the area. I stopped counting when I reached 100 seats and the night we visited – during opening week – virtually every table was full. How much of that success was down to curiosity, only time will tell. It will take truly great food to fill this space every night.

Certainly the menu is very attractive. They offer just five or six starters, mains and desserts and four steak options, and chef James Allcock clearly studied very, very hard during the time his CV says he spent with local gastro-legend James McKenzie at the Pipe & Glass. He’s also obviously eaten many times at the Star at Harome.

Starter 1 was potted brown shrimp with blade mace butter, Pickering watercress and warm rye bread toasts (£7.50). It was served on one of those planks of wood I shall rant about anon and was superb. The diddy spoon supplied to break through the butter wasn’t up to the task and the toast went far too fast, leaving a small heap of homeless shrimps, but no doubt they’ll sort those things.

Starter 2 was pressed ham hock and parsley terrine with Mollet quail eggs, spiced pineapple pickle and mustard seed dressing (£7).  The terrine was champion – moist and well seasoned with oozy-yolked eggs – but took less time to eat than to say. More mouthfuls on the plate than in the title would be grand.

Considering the steak options on the menu are highlighted, they really need to work on them. The Longhorn sirloin with peppercorn sauce (£20) that arrived was badly cut and consequently inconsistently cooked; it came with just six – 6!!! – chips and, worst of all, was served on another plank of wood. It always amazes me that, after millennia of human culinary evolution, restaurants feel the need to serve food on building supplies that even cavemen would have dismissed as unsuitable for the job. How do you eat on a plank that allows the sauce to run off the second it is poured over the meat? Put it on a plate, they work great!

No gripes with the roast rump of Yorkshire lamb with pickled red cabbage, stockpot carrots and baked boulangere potatoes (£20) – it was an absolute treat. Great meat, great veg and a superb balance of tastes and textures.

The wine, by the way, was sublime. I ordered an Italian red from the lower end of the list and, if the cheapest wines are that good, the top end ones must be palate-kicking.

Puds brought probably the two best platefuls of the night and also the funniest incident. Chocolate Indulgence… (their dot, dot, dots, by the way. Intended to add mystery, I presume) turned out to be a fondant with ice cream and was a wonderfully claggy delight. Claggy not in a bad way, but in a riotous roof-of-the-mouth sensory assault-stylee.

I had a treacle tart laced with orange and topped with another dollop of ace ice cream. It was tacky and zesty and utterly delicious. Oddly, however, it was ringed with a few strands of what looked and tasted like cress. I questioned the waitress over the presence of no-one’s favourite garnish on the plate and she informed me that it was ‘micro-mint’. A new one on me. I tasted it, then rubbed it and smelled it – not a hint of mint could I detect. Just cress.

When I suggested it was, in fact, cress put on the plate in error, the waitress and I got into a bizarre and hugely enjoyable ‘well it isn’t’, ‘but it tastes like it’, ‘well it isn’t’ contradiction-fest. After a couple of minutes of futile, repetitious (but great fun) horn-locking I asked if she could fetch some more from the kitchen for further inspection. ‘Certainly’, she replied through clenched teeth.

She returned a few minutes later and claimed, with a line worthy of Monty Python’s Cheese Shop sketch, that the kitchen had just run out. I was almost certainly wrong about the mint, but mentally chalked up an away win all the same.

If it sounds like I’m being picky anywhere above, it’s because I like 1884 Dock Street Kitchen a great deal and want it to improve and prosper. It swaggered into town with attitude and backing and delivers much of what it promises. This kind of ambition is to be applauded.

A little bit of Manhattan magnificence in the middle of Hull? Very, very nearly. But not (yet) nearly enough.

Dave Lee

 

Starters: £5.50 – 9. Mains: £14 – 24. Desserts: £4 – 7

 

Tuesday to Saturday, Lunch: 12.00 noon – 2.30pm Dinner: 6.00pm – 9:30pm
Sunday: Lunch, 12.00 noon – 3.30pm

 

1884 Dock Street Kitchen

Humber Dock Street,

Marina,

Hull,

HU1 1TB

 

01482 222260

 

www.1884DockStreetKitchen.co.uk

 

Pictures are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/60126894@N07/sets/72157630469332604/

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Categories: Restaurant Review, Writing, Yorkshire Post

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