I have had some great nights at The Tetley, both in its original form as a brewery, where I was treated to several tours, and in its present incarnation as a gallery, restaurant, bar and, in summer, outside street food venue. Wednesday was no exception when I was invited to the launch of the new winter menu and an interview between Bryony Bond, Director of The Tetley, and Rufus Newell, the artist responsible for the Café Commission which is now on display in, where else, the café, oh, and the restaurant.
I arrived unfashionably early as I wanted to have a look at the two exhibitions in the first floor galleries. Both are concerned with identity in one form or another. The first is a memorial to David Oluwale, the black man who met a tragically early demise in 1969 after being hounded by the police, an act for which two officers were convicted, named Hibiscus Rising, by Yinka Shonibare CBE.
The second, Retrospect, Reality, Reform, is an examination what is meant by home and identity, and comprises works in several mediums by a group of artists.. Entry is free and they are well worth a look.
Staying on the art theme, we were treated to an insight of the thought process used by Rufus Newell to create the images which now adorn the walls of the ground floor rooms. He told Bryony Bond that they were fanciful takes on food and what it represents to him. There are two large acrylic pieces in the café and several smaller works in the restaurant. He described his style as ‘drawing with paint’.
Mr Newell is originally from Hastings but came to Leeds to study art and stayed here, who wouldn’t, so, being from the coast, he does feature a fair bit of seafood. This picture of a fish takes pride of plaice. I promised myself I wouldn’t do that, but when you are handed an open goal…
Art is all well and good and vital to feed the soul, I resisted that pun, but you really need the stomach to be full to appreciate it properly, and this is where art of a different kind came in.
The winter menu at The Tetley is an imaginative take on old favourites with a bit of a twist. As the name of the establishment is synonymous with beer, what better accompaniment could there be to a pint than cheese on toast. This, however, is Fountains of Gold cheese rarebit on sourdough, topped with chilli flakes. The menu version comes with a side of pickled vegetables and house made potato crisps, you can add a fried egg as well if you wish. Our sample had the pickles on top and they, along with the cheese and toast, were superb.
The next sample was the spicy pakora (original recipe by Harry Ghotra) which is normally served in a baguette with pear chutney, cucumber and coconut raita. Once again, delicious.
We were then treated to an item from the breakfast section of the menu. It was a cheese and chive omelette roll which is part of the Breakfast Grazing Board for two. It put me in mind of pasta, which it is, but without the durum wheat – so not pasta at all then. Whatever it is or isn’t, it is one of those dishes which makes you wonder why no one has done it before. Wonderful.
The final sample, and a real mind blower, was from the Christmas menu and was, wait for it, Deep Fried Apple and Mince Pie Spring Roll. The pastry was a great accompaniment to the filling and, again, because spring roll is a close relation of filo, it is not a giant leap into the unknown but one well worth making. The menu version is served with warm vanilla custard.
I was fortunate enough to meet Chef Jade, who is responsible for these delights and had the shortest interview of my life. I asked her how she got the notion to produce these dishes and she just said, ‘I don’t sleep much!’ Never has insomnia proved so creative.
What really surprised me about the All Day menu was that there is nothing on it which is priced at more than a tenner. Incredible value for money. Speaking of the menu, there is a footnote which says that it is printed on ‘paper made from the waste material left over from brewing beer!’ It must be the Virgo in me that makes me appreciate the symmetry of that.
Once again, I had a wonderful evening at The Tetley. If you have never been, you should go, and if you have been before, you should go again!
To see what is on at The Tetley please go to https://thetetley.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2ejHx5y1-wIVCrTtCh032gqgEAAYASAAEgKSavD_BwE
For more background to the case of David Oluwale please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_David_Oluwale
Al photographs by Stan Graham