Yorkshire Life Luncheon - Neaversons Tea House, Huddersfield
- Credit: Joan Russell
Guests join us at one of West Yorkshire’s newest foodie favourites. Jo Haywood reports. Photographs by Joan Russell
There are very few people in Huddersfield who haven’t had their noses pressed up against the unusual curved windows of Neaversons at some point in their lives.
It’s been a rite of passage for generations of shoppers in this busy West Yorkshire town since 1935. And now new owners, Lee Alderman and his partner Eimear Skehan-Alderman, are hoping to carve an equally impressive niche for themselves in Huddersfield’s culinary culture.
‘People remember the original Neaversons’ china and glass shop very fondly,’ said general manager Helen Cawkwell. ‘It’s been something of a landmark in town for decades, so Lee and Eimear were, naturally, nervous when they took it on as they knew how much it meant to the people of Huddersfield.
‘But, thankfully, people have reacted very positively. They appreciate all the hard work that has gone into restoring it to its former glory. And the Neaverson family have also given us their seal of approval by dining with us on special occasions.’
The original Neaversons, which drew customers from across the country with its quality products, including Lalique and Wedgewood, closed in 2007. It reopened as an eaterie, but this was a shortlived venture, leaving the striking, highly decorated, grade two listed building – said to have been designed to echo Le Corbusier’s Maison Citrohan – to fall into disrepair.
‘Lee and Eimear were just walking past when they spotted it was for sale,’ explained Helen. ‘The building wasn’t in the best state of repair; there wasn’t even a decent kitchen to speak of. But after the hard slog of renovation, you can see the blood, sweat and tears they invested was worth it. They wanted something of quality, and that’s what they’ve got.’
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The name above the door remains the same, but the atmosphere inside is completely different. Gone are the reverential whispers over the delicate Lalique, replaced by convivial conversation, clinking glasses and appreciative ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ of satisfaction as plate after plate of quality local food appears.
Our guests were treated to a deeply savoury and perilously moreish morel risotto, followed by a spoon-soft daube of beef that was beautifully cooked and so deliciously seductive it drew Mexican waves of groans and moans not suitable for a family magazine.
Then it was time for pudding – and a bit of showmanship. Each table was presented with a sharing platter of buttery lemon cake, boozy tiramisu, heavenly chocolate mousse and celebratory champagne jelly (a surprise favourite for many) adorned in-situ by masterful serving staff with painterly swipes of fruit purees and caramel sauce and artfully strewn fresh fruit, truffles, ice cream, mini cakes, Turkish delight and popping candy. It was, in a word, a triumph.
‘Our food is all about flavour and locality,’ said Helen. ‘We go out of our way to support local producers and work with independent companies in Huddersfield.
‘North Yorkshire has a well-earned reputation for its food and producers. Lee and Eimear simply want people to give West Yorkshire the same credit. We have it all too.’
Risotto of morels with pecorino shavings
Daube of Grange Moor beef with pickled heritage vegetables
Neaversons’ grazing desserts with cakes from Huddersfield Cupcake Company
Barncliffe brie from The Dairy in Shelley and biscuits
Coffee and handmade petit fours from Deco Chocolates of Huddersfield
Ca’del Console Prosecco: this is a delightful, soft-textured wine with hints of green apple and floral notes leading to a subtle, delicate finish.
Chardonnay Tormaresca 2012, Marchesi Antinori, Italy: this is a bright, fruity, medium-bodied chardonnay that amplifies the purity and richness of Puglian fruit.
Terra Andina Reserva Syrah 2009, Chile: an aromatic red that blends cherry and raspberry with heartier notes of meat and pepper. This is a juicy, round wine with a touch of cedary oak and an appetising finish.
Chateau Menota Cuvee de Portail 2009, Graves Superieures, France: a delicious wine with the classic aromas of marmalade, honey and blossom. The palate is medium-sweet, full of fruit and yet fresh and tangy with a whistle-clean finish.
:: Wine supplied by Berkmann Wine Cellars, berkmann.co.uk.
For further information about Neaversons Tea Room at 4 Byram Street, Huddersfield, HD1 1BX, call 01484 420 222 or visit neaversons.com.