A good friend has been telling me about Iris restaurant in Wakefield for a long time, so I jumped on the opportunity to give it a try. We arrived on a Tuesday lunchtime. It was empty, which was slightly off-putting but it was the very beginning of lunchtime and it was mid-week. We were politely greeted by friendly gentleman and immediately felt at ease. We forgot about the empty surroundings as we had lots to catch up on and another pair of diners did join us later on. I felt the staff got the service just right. I’ve found in empty restaurants that staff can either be overbearing and nowhere to be found. We got just the right amount of attention.
On to the food. I ordered the beetroot salad to start. It arrived beautifully presented, with a mix of purple and golden beetroot, slivers of sharp and creamy goats cheese and decorated with leaves and blackberries. Hidden underneath the beetroot was a heap of caramelised onions and something crunchy that seemed candied. Not sure what it was but it was a delightful contrast. Very enjoyable starter. My friend ordered the scotch egg and was very impressed with it.
For main, I ordered flat iron steak with twice cooked truffle oil and Parmesan chips and savoy cabbage with pancetta. I ordered chimichurri sauce on the side. With lunch, each main comes with two sides and a sauce, which is great value. The food was very nice and the portions generous. We were asked if we wanted any salt and pepper when we were given our meals which we declined. Once I’d had a chips, however, I realised they did need salt and I feel it would have been more convenient if there was salt and pepper on the table. Good quality food though, I did enjoy my main.
Despite being stuffed, I hate to turn down a dessert. I was immediately drawn to the elderflower cheesecake with raspberries and meringue. Unfortunately, the dessert did let the meal down for me. Elderflower is subtle but in this cheesecake, it was undetectable and I actually forgot that it was flavoured. The cheesecake tasted quite savoury with a saltiness rather than a sweetness. The accompanying elements of the meringue, cream and raspberries were all very sweet so I understand the need to balance, however, I feel that the balance was not achieved here. The base of the cheesecake lacked flavour and was on the soft side for my liking. My personal preference is that a cheesecake base should be crisp and have a biscuity, buttery flavour. It should be an element in it’s own right, rather than a vessel to transport the cheese topping. Personally, I wouldn’t have presented the meringue as shards. I would perhaps have crumbled the meringue over the cheesecake. I found the meringue a little too stiff and feel a softer and more crumbly meringue would have helped to sweeten up the cheese topping. Perhaps a dusting of icing sugar would have lifted the salty flavour a little. That said, I did enjoy the combination of cheesecake, raspberries and meringue and the coulis was well balanced in terms of sharpness and sweetness. The texture of the cheesecake topping was perfect. It was just the right amount of dense. Personally, I’m not a fan of cheesecakes that are too gelatinous and mousse like, this was firm and just right.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience. I found the food to be of good quality, I would just recommend a couple of tweaks here and there as mentioned, but that’s my preference. The value for money is outstanding and the presentation is pleasing without being pretentious. When comparing this restaurant in my mind to some of the fine dining/Michelin star restaurants I’ve been to, I’d say it’s not too far off to be fair. I would recommend a visit and I would like to return for evening meal and see what it’s like when it’s a bit busier. I’m not sure how old the restaurant is but I feel like it could be one to watch if it keeps building on its already good foundations.