You can’t afford to stand still and Discovery Bay, one of Huddersfield’s most popular town centre restaurants, never stops evolving.
While the menu, the decor and the furniture may change, what doesn’t is the bang-on every time quality of the food, the atmosphere and the welcome.
Run by the larger-than-life Barrington Douglas, this Caribbean-inspired restaurant is massively under-rated. If it was in Leeds people would rave about it.
Barrington has a keen eye for detail, both in the kitchen and front of house, and nothing is left to chance.
He’s a cool and genial host in the restaurant – but you can imagine him working frantically behind the scenes to ensure everything, not least the food, is served to his exacting standards. Something like a duck on a pond – if you’ll forgive the analogy – serene and unruffled on the surface, yet working away furiously underneath.
Barrington is certainly a grafter but he’s also a food craftsman and innovator.
His cooking seems effortless and simple yet his flavours are deep and complex.
Discovery Bay is relaxed and unpretentious and you could eat here every week and not become bored.
For the last 12 months Discovery Bay has had a town centre rival for Caribbean cuisine: Turtle Bay. A rival it may be, but competition?
Barrington, of course, has added Discovery Lounge, a comfortable cocktail bar next door to the restaurant, and that’s where our Saturday night out started.
A Bufala Negra for me (£7) and a Mojito (£6.50) for my partner Sian.
The restaurant has had an under-stated yet modern makeover and is much more spacious than it used to be. Barrington carefully sourced his new chairs, for example, and had to wait patiently for several months for delivery.
He’s got a new menu but it’s evolution not revolution with new twists on old favourites. And the new food offering is presented in the modern way now, by flip-over clipboard.
On the walls there are photographs of Barrington cooking with celebrity chefs. It’s not about ego but credibility.
For starters garlic-lover Sian went for garlic prawns (£8.95) while I chose mango mushrooms (£5.95).
The chunky prawns are served in a hollowed half-pineapple, the sauce oozing into the remaining fruit.
Customers have been known to try to carve up the pineapple to ensure they don’t miss out on a single scrap of the sauce. For the record, Sian didn’t. She was blown away by the flavours, though.
Served on a board it was a showstopper. Unfortunately, my photographic skills didn’t do it justice.
My mushrooms were a feast. The onions and peppers were sublime in the mango sauce.
Sian hates peppers with a passion but I’m sure she would have enjoyed these. Except I wasn’t for giving her the chance!
For mains Sian had the classic Jerk Chicken (£11) made with Barrington’s own recipe. The sauce has a kick but Barrington isn’t afraid to go for some sweetness too. I was tempted by Barrington’s famous curried goat but opted instead for the chicken and king prawn curry (£13.95), which brought a nod of approval from the chef himself.
He wasn’t wrong. Like Sian’s my chicken was tender and the prawns were big and juicy. The curry had a delicate spiciness.
It was served with a Trinidad-style roti and the best yoghurt mint sauce you could wish for. It’s subtly sweet and a dash of sugar is the secret ingredient that puts it in a different league.
After two courses I admit to being pretty full. Not like me to think twice about dessert.
Sian was looking at the pineapple cake – baked by Barrington’s auntie – but the lime and ginger cheesecake (£5.95) proved irresistible.
Our server was apologetic. The cheesecake was all gone. Sensing disappointment Barrington was back in a flash. “Cheesecake it is,” he said. “I know the chef.”
In no time we had “deconstructed” cheesecake to share. The base was crumbly and not set but who cares? It was mouth-wateringly light and a real palate-cleanser, and it had been specially made for us. Now that’s customer service.
Barrington is bang on form and Discovery Bay should be top of your to-do list. But let’s keep this place as our little secret, shall we?
12 Wood Street, Huddersfield, HD1 1D G
Phone: 01484 300211
Opening hours: Wednesday to Saturday 5pm to late with bar from 4pm
Disabled access: Ye s
The bill: £48.80 excluding drinks
Would you go back? For sure