Licence front, Dave Lee discovers bistro at Henry Yeast & Son.
WISH I could remember who it was that said you get a better view of life from the top deck of a bus. I’d like to credit them for helping me spot a cracking little restaurant as I took my first bus trip for years down Hull’s Newland Ave recently.
Recalling the quote as I travelled and enjoying a new perspective of a street I thought I knew well, I spied what appeared to be an interesting looking off-licence. Interesting both because they are an increasing rarity these days and because it appeared to sell some intriguing-looking brews.
A trip back on foot a few days later revealed that Henry Yeast & Son (as the establishment is called) may look like an unassuming offy from the outside but step inside and you find a little, long European-style bistro affair. There’s a bar at one end, a kitchen at the other and two rows of plain tables running along either wall. It’s got bare floorboards, bare brick walls and appears equally stripped of pretention and fuss.
On entering you are instantly transported to a habitat reminiscent of the backstreet bars found in Bergen or Bruges and even before the marvellously friendly staff welcome you in, you just know that you are going to have a relaxing, refreshing couple of hours. You can probably already tell that it’s easily my favourite find for quite a while.
I was surprised to learn that Henry Yeast isn’t new and has, in fact, been open almost 18 months. It’s the project of chef/owner Jason Gittins and a couple of sleeping partners and has been designed to fill a gap in the near-oversaturated Newland Ave/Princes Ave eatery circuit. The intention is to offer Anglo-Teutonic cuisine supplemented by specials with a twist. Odd as it sounds, finding somewhere in Hull that offers rabbit or turbot is actually quite difficult, here they actively seek out and stick these ‘rarities’ on the daily-updated specials board.
How the place has flown under my radar for so long, I have no idea. After asking around a little, though, I found that it is extremely popular with the more culinary-savvy residents of the surrounding Avenues area of the city and that they have been quietly flocking to ‘Henry’s’ in their droves. It’s easy to see why.
To kick off with there is the beer menu: a baffling A3-sized tableau featuring dozens of beers, perrys and ciders sourced from all over the UK and Europe. Each is briefly described to help you make decisions but we found it a lot more fun to simply order blind – “Pick a number,” “32,” “Two pints of Kwak, please.” It may lead to you leaving on your knees, but it’s a hugely entertaining way of getting there.
The food menu is rather more concise, there are just half a dozen starters and mains, moules, steaks and sides. Of the starters, I’ve tried the French onion soup, the potted pork and the black pudding cakes and can recommend all of them. None are spectacular but all are simple, tasty and well-prepared.
The same is true of the mains; the belly pork is great, the duck breast in cherry and port sauce was succulent and fruitily delicious and the comfit chicken features a vast chicken leg on a bed of puy lentils, lardons and broth. It’s as comforting as a Sunday lunch.
Just as important as the food and the booze, though, is the atmosphere. During the day it’s a great place to sit with a pint and a paper while pretending you’re some kind of aloof, insouciant Euro-poet. Come night, it fills up with diners who know a good thing when it opens at the end of their street and who chatter and laugh and seem generally happy to have found somewhere so laid-back and cosy.
The only negative I can poke at the place is that the desserts aren’t hugely inspiring. The likes of brownies with ice cream,
UNASSUMING EXTERIOR: Inside Henry Yeast & Son is a European style bistro.