It’s no secret that we’ve been fans of the guys at Crafty and St Martin’s since day one, so when we heard that they had taken over a pub on Highcross Street we couldn’t wait to go down and visit. Somehow they managed to target the most Leicester named pub in the city and now here we are as they’ve opened the doors to King Richard III.
As expected, the changes are many, from the exterior signage to the carefully thought out garden area which opens up to the street, however the owners have also managed to retain some of the pub’s original charm and features. On entering, the front bar area has plenty of seating available for those just wanting to drink, whilst the room towards the back has been set aside for diners.
Now then, the food. This place may be called a pub and look like a pub, but it’s certainly a little bit more than that. Having been lured in by the team’s social media postings with glimpses of the bar snacks, dinner menu and their unique robata grill, our expectations were already high! The menu offers a good range of choices with 5 starter options (2 meat options, 2 vegetarian and 1 fish), which are priced between £5.50 and £7. Undecided between the chicken kara-age and the crispy spiced lamb roll we eventually opted for the agro-dolce onion, sorrel and goat’s curd on Hambleton’s sourdough toast. Presented on one slice of sourdough, the onion was filled with the soft and creamy goat’s curd, offering a fantastic mix of flavours.
For the main courses there are a number of pub classics on the menu including beer battered haddock and chips, pie (made with homemade shortcrust pastry) with mash and gravy, and, of course, a Crafty inspired burger. Vegetarian options also include a mushroom and aubergine moussaka and roasted cauliflower with tahini and pomegranate. However, having heard about the kitchen’s robata grill, we were swayed towards the grill menu. So what’s a robata grill and why do we keep going on about it? Well, it’s a Japanese inspired method of cooking, similar to a barbecue with the meats and food slow cooked over hot coals, and it’s a bit of a new thing for Leicester!
The robata menu is great for meat lovers with choices including lamb chops, pork T-bone (single portion or to share), pork belly, sirloin steak and the dry aged beef rib (for 2 to share, apparently, we’ll come onto that). All of the meat comes from nearby March House Farm in Melton Mowbray and the quality was as good as we’ve had anywhere in the city before. The sirloin steak, which we asked for medium rare, was cooked to perfection, with the robata grill offering a fantastic crisp smoked taste to the outside, whilst the pork belly was cooked on the bone for maximum flavour.
Having seen it all over social media we had to order the dry aged beef rib, however, being a hungry one, instead of sharing the portion for 2, this one had it all to himself. He finished the lot. Don’t let us put you off, the beef rib comes with 2 sides and provides a great meal option to share, but beware who you share it with! Once again, the beef was perfectly cooked and came served in 8 slices (I know, 8, plenty to share).
All of the grill options come with a side of skin on chips, mash potato, hispi cabbage or purple broccoli plus a choice of sauce. The mushroom ketchup is highly recommended! Even if you don’t like mushrooms or ketchup, give it a go!
Still got room for dessert? There are 3 options of local and European cheeses, sticky toffee pudding with pecan banana parfait and the doughnuts with vanilla custard and braised rhubarb. Being a fan of anything with cinnamon the doughnuts certainly didn’t disappoint. Freshly prepared with the contrasting flavours of the rhubarb and sweet custard and dusted with cinnamon, you’re presented with 2 doughnuts, so if you’re too full for pudding we suggest sharing this!
King Richard III certainly isn’t just a pub by any means. The dining room is a lovely and intimate setting, providing the kind of place you could spend all evening with friends, but also be perfectly happy to take your parents on a Sunday afternoon. The quality of food was as good as anywhere we’ve visited in the city centre lately and the beer garden looks perfect for a summer’s evening.
If you’ve not already guessed from the rave review, we’ll definitely be back.
I have a feeling that the “plenty of seating available” won’t last for long, so booking ahead is strongly encouraged if you’re looking for a table to eat. Bookings can be made from the King Richard III website where you’ll also find the full menu.
King Richard III is located on Highcross Street, Leicester and is open for food on Tuesday to Saturday evenings from 5 to 9pm plus day time on Friday and Saturday (12 to 3pm) and on Sundays (12 to 5pm).