A look at the food and drink scene in Hull

Hull's Maritime Museum

Hull's Maritime Museum - Credit: Joan Russell

There’s no chance you’ll go hungry in Hull. Martin Pilkington went along to get a taste of the city’s thriving food and drink scene.

Hull’s remarkable renaissance is not all down to its capital of culture year in 2017. The city’s food and drink scene was on the up before that happened, contributed to its success, and is still attracting visitors – as well as making life taste better for the locals.

‘I think food was a big part of the council strategy to turn things round,’ says Lucy Lines, who manages the refurbished Trinity Market. ‘Provide great food and people will come. They spent £3 million on the building, it’s just outrageously good now. The offer changed to predominantly street food, the whole family can choose different things, sit at the tables and enjoy entertainment.’

Along with the traditional butcher’s, deli and fruit and veg stalls Trinity Market houses foodie destinations like Alessandro’s for authentic Italian; Greko for Greek dishes; Cone Queen for pizza cones, (an idea that may be bigger than KFC one day); Falafia for falafel and salads; Caffeinated for what Lucy reckons is the best coffee in the city; and plenty more, including a micro-brewery.

Award winner

Local Indian food legend Mukesh Tirkoti is tapping in to consumers’ love of variety. He said: ‘We have three places; Tapasya@Marina in the Fruit Market for fine dining, our street food business in Trinity Market, and a third refurbished and reopening as Chowki, a new concept, casual dining with great traditional Indian food,’ says Mukesh Tirkoti, the concern’s managing director. The Marina restaurant just won Remarkable East Yorkshire’s 2019 top restaurant award.

Mukesh estimates that about 80 per cent of that restaurant’s midweek trade comes from people visiting Hull on business or as tourists.

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Ever-changing menu

Shoot the Bull is renowned for feeding festivals with their grill and rotisserie offering. And they have a thriving stall at Trinity Market, and have already featured in the recently opened Taphouse Brewpub in the trendy Fruit Market. Taphouse co-owner Guy Falkingham said: ‘We put a full kitchen in, and having seen the rise of the informal dining trend, and that people like the food available to change, we have different operators do a kitchen takeover every week.’

The Taphouse epitomises the Fruit Market’s vibe, with a stylish warehouse-industrial look, and lots of interest – a micro-brewery visible to the clientele, entertainment, and an incredibly diverse range of drinks available. Guy added: ‘Cross trading benefits all the businesses and what we do complements the wide range of restaurants here with fixed menus and more formal settings. And in the good weather there’s a café culture with loads of outside tables that brings lots of people down here.’

Vegan side dish

As Hull, like everywhere else, experiences increased demand for vegan food, Trinity Market hosts occasional evening Vegan Market events – there’s one on May 31.

Locals cite Blondes in Cottingham – for ‘naughty’ vegan fast food – The V Word in Hessle, and Scrummy Crumb’s mobile service as established and rising stars of the sector.

A thirst for more

The Humber Street Distillery Company, run by Lee Kirman and Charlotte Bailey, is a stylish bar which houses a working distillery. Lee said: ‘We got training from Jamie Baxter, who’s a distillery guru, he’s done lots of small distillery set-ups. My partner Charlotte comes up with the recipes, and we can make just one bottle to trial it in the bars, get feedback, and if it’s liked make a full 220-bottle batch.’

Angela Cawte, Chair of Camra’s Hull branch, regrets the passing of the city’s eponymous brewery, and the loss of its recipes, but thinks the brewing scene is pretty healthy. ‘As far as local beers are concerned, we have quite a few micro-breweries, the best-known outside the area may be Great Newsome Brewery, and some new ones getting established and doing well. I think Hull is still benefitting from its time as city of culture,’ she says. But she’s keen to point out that Hull is not just about trendy new bars. ‘We’ve still got a good number of traditional pubs here,’ she adds, and perhaps it’s symbolic that The George Hotel, one she cites as a shining example – and a recent Camra pub of the year – is in the middle of the Old Town, on the fringe of all the redevelopment work.

Tourism boost

James Stockdale, chef and co-owner of Humber Fish Co, which was a finalist in Remarkable East Yorkshire’s 2019 top restaurant award, thinks 40 per cent of his weekend trade is down to tourism. ‘Hull never had that before,’ he says. ‘But now people come from all over Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and make a restaurant or two part of their visit. The food and drink offer has exploded over the last 10 years, you can’t move in Humber Street sometimes, it has become a destination in itself.’

His fish and seafood restaurant is a nod to Hull’s industrial past and its gourmet present. ‘I was mindful that Hull has such a rich fishing heritage, but that we never actually had a trendy market-style fish restaurant, you go to the other big cities and see places with fish counters serving great food. We saw the Fruit Market development gaining momentum and thought if there was ever the right moment… so we sold our last restaurant and moved here. It’s been phenomenal. I wish we’d made it twice the size!’

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