Food news: Stroud united
PUBLISHED: 16:30 29 September 2014 | UPDATED: 16:51 29 September 2014
Three food-loving friends have come together to bring Cotswold diners a relaxed new restaurant featuring unpretentious modern European dishes
When it comes to good food, Stroud is well known for its multi award-winning weekly farmers’ market, but a new restaurant in nearby Union Street looks set to put the town on the wider culinary map.
Dinner at Six opened in July on the site of the former Food Emporium and it is an offshoot of Birch Catering, the newish outside catering company that specialises in bespoke events.
Both businesses are run by Kylie Hughes, Wesley Birch and Richard Dunlop – three food-loving friends from the Stroud area whose combined CV includes stints at a number of Cotswold establishments, including William’s Fish Market and Food Hall in Nailsworth, Calcot Manor at Tetbury and Bisley House in Stroud.
Despite its nocturnal name, Dinner at Six is open for lunch and dinner (Tuesday to Saturday) and the seasonal menus use local produce – sometimes sourced directly from the nearby farmers’ market – to create unpretentious modern European dishes.
Typical starters include pumpkin ravioli with crisp sage or pigeon breast salad with Parmesan arancini and pancetta, which might be followed by wild mushroom Wellington and butternut squash purée or braised ox cheek with shallot mash and vegetable crisps. Seasonal desserts include strawberry and elderflower jelly with Champagne syllabub and blackcurrant poached pear with mango sorbet.
For the trio behind the restaurant, Dinner at Six is the natural progression for their catering company, which has worked closely with a number of clients since launching in April 2013, including leading events organiser Henry Bonas.
“I think we had all reached a point where we were a bit dissatisfied of working for other people and had many ideas that we wanted to take forward,” says Wesley, who first met Kylie when they worked together in a small bistro in Stroud eight years ago.
“We started Birch Catering because we wanted complete control over what we were doing and I suppose Dinner at Six is an extension of that.”
Stroud-born Richard adds: “We were blessed to have had increasing success with Birch Catering, especially as it was only our first year of business, and we wanted to invest in something that would stretch us all professionally but benefit all three of us too.”
Richard and Wesley first met when they worked for William Beeston at William’s Kitchen in Nailsworth, which proved to be a huge influence on them both.
Wesley says: “Working for William and head chef Clive Gawlick was very inspiring - not just for their unbelievable talent and their amazing understanding of ingredients, but because their work ethic is second to none; they were a true inspiration.
“I was only 17 years old and working in the kitchen, and Richard was just 16 and working front of house around his school studies.”
“I always forget it has been that long,” laughs Richard, who has also worked in North America, Japan and Australia. “Wesley and I have known each other for most of our adult lives really and I think I first met Kylie in the pub, quite possibly The Retreat in Stroud, where we still drink, but we have all worked together a lot since.”
For Kylie, opening a restaurant in her hometown has long been a dream.
“Stroud is home for me, it’s my town, so for me that was the greatest appeal about opening Dinner at Six.
“The menu changes regularly but one of the clear winners – and a personal favourite - is the braised ox cheek with shallot mash, which is amazing washed down with a nice glass of red.”
The three owners say they have been overwhelmed by the response from customers since they opened and they want Dinner at Six to be seen as a relaxed place where locals can meet over reasonably priced food and drink.
Richard says: “The idea behind Dinner at Six was really simple: we wanted to be known as a restaurant where you relax as you walk through the door, knowing you will consistently get a great plate of food.
“We also wanted a select wine list that was reasonably priced and, by using a set mark-up per bottle, we have achieved this. Hopefully Dinner at Six demonstrates our own skills but also showcases some delicious local and seasonal produce.
“Stroud is one of a kind and I do not think there is anywhere quite like it – in terms of the people, the atmosphere, the ethos, the beauty.
“The farmers’ market deserves all of its awards and has done a huge amount to put Stroud on the map as a foodie destination and this is what we wanted to build on.
“We are really happy with how it is going and we are all really proud of what we have achieved so far. We are all looking forward to the future as restaurateurs in Stroud.”
For more information, visit: www.dinneratsix.co.uk
This article is from the October 2014 issue of Cotswold Life magazine