According to Edward Barker, head chef at The Jolly Scholar, there are three things a new restaurant needs in order to become established. “It needs to be attractive and clean,” he says, “it needs to have freshly-prepared food, and it needs to keep pace with current trends in food.”
Sounds simple enough. But this is a man who should know what it takes to successfully open a new establishment, having done so for many years both in the UK and in Europe for a large restaurant group. Now Edward is perhaps being somewhat modest with this assessment, because another thing that any new restaurant needs is a menu packed with great-tasting, enticing food, and that’s something you’ll certainly find at The Jolly Scholar, thanks to Edward and his kitchen team.
Now, if at this point you’re scratching your head and wondering where exactly on King Street The Jolly Scholar is situated, it’s on the site of the pub formerly known as The Bun Shop. Before reopening in its new guise earlier this summer, the team behind The Jolly Scholar totally refurbished and revamped the establishment’s interior, opening up what was previously a rather dark and dingy two-room downstairs area into one large, airy space, with folding doors opening right out on to the street, and a large new bar sweeping from one end of the room to the other.
The team put an equal amount of time and effort creating their menus, which have gradually been refined, after finding out the sort of food that their customers were looking for.
“We either use food that’s in the prime of its season – so we don’t have to do an awful lot to it – or we work hard at some of the less obvious cuts and ingredients, so that they taste great.” That means you’ll find, for example, fresh fish from sustainable sources, beef from the Red Poll herd often seen on the city’s commons; and trademark dishes including lobster ravioli with lemongrass velouté; stuffed saddle of rabbit; roasted skate wing; and a trio of pork dish that includes slow-roast belly, stuffed trotter and braised cheek.
A few months after opening, there is now a pleasing buzz once again on this corner of King Street in the city centre. “It’s not even so much about the food,” says Edward, “it’s about the whole environment people will find here on a night out.” So how would he describe the atmosphere on a typical evening at The Jolly Scholar? “It’s really relaxed, nothing fancy. We just try to provide quality food without being pretentious. So on the one hand you’ll find smart, professional waiters and waitresses, but on the other hand most of our chairs are mismatched, and came from auctions!”
The Jolly Scholar, 1 King Street. 01223 526268