Depending on the time of year, the weather, and my mood, my answer to the first question might be a huge platter of salty-fresh shellfish washed down with a good white Burgundy; or, at the right time of year, when it’s in its prime, I love game – maybe grouse, or hare.
The signature dish question is an even tougher one to answer. I guess I don’t have a single one, but several which have evolved over the years – all dishes which have stood the test of time, staying on the menu in one form or another since we started, and which I think some people would lynch me for if I tried to take them off!
There’s a potted pork starter, for instance, which is on the menu today and has been there and pretty much the same from day one: a fantastic, simple dish using pork, the crackling in a salad, some sticky apple and lovely spelt toast. It may have evolved slightly over the years, but you can’t change the simple things too much – it’s still a favourite of many of our customers today.
Other signature dishes only appear on the menu at certain times of year, depending on the seasons, and those I might develop a little more each year, such as the lamb Barnsley chop with devilled kidneys, nettle and mint sauce.
Then there are the dishes that combine the two approaches: we have a dark chocolate pudding, a little like a fondant, that’s baked in a cast iron dish. The basic pudding stays the same, but the flavourings and the accompanying ice cream, change seasonally: maybe sloe gin and juniper with damson ripple ice cream, or dark chocolate millionaire’s pudding with salted burnt butter ice cream.
New chefs in the kitchen, and new fashions in food, can also affect the development of our dishes – certainly these have been reflected in our famous Five Reasons to Love Chocolate.
I’m sure you all have your own Pipe and Glass favourites, and I try to showcase these in the ‘Classics’ tasting menu on offer upstairs in our private dining suite. These include the smoked haddock and pearl barley risotto, which doesn’t appear on the main menu too often. And a lot of the classics are in my book On the Menu – but even they may have changed slightly (and hopefully, for the even better!) since its publication.
Signature dishes are always those that stand the test of both time and fashion. Ultimately, they’re the ones that people ask for again and again…