New neighbourhood restaurant set to provide unique offering in heart of thriving community

Rupert & Darwin owners James and Beth MacLeod-Birch & David and Raeann Rooms.

A new independent neighbourhood restaurant, with a passion for seasonal modern British food, is about to open its doors in the heart of one of Hull’s most popular communities.

Rupert & Darwin is the brainchild of friends and business partners James and Beth MacLeod-Birch, and David and Raeann Rooms, who have had a long-standing collective ambition to bring their own unique take on friendly and accessible dining to life.

They have transformed the former Uno’s and Brimble Bistro building in Princes Avenue and created 11 jobs, including Head Chef Michael Moughton, who has previously worked at top restaurants across the East Riding, from The Star Inn at Sancton and the Pipe and Glass Inn in South Dalton, to 1884 Dock Street Kitchen in Hull.

James left his position with the 1884 Group early this year to pursue his dream of opening his own restaurant.

Now, as Managing Director of Rupert & Darwin, which is due to open to the public on Saturday, September 28, he plans to draw on more than two decades of experience working in the hospitality industry, including for chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Gary Rhodes.

James said: “I have spent 22 years working for other people in restaurants and my wife, Beth, has nearly 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, so we made the decision to branch out and set up independently.

“David and Raeann have been looking for a way to enter the industry for a long time, having run other successful businesses in the city, and we decided to make the move together.

“I wanted to step away from everything I’ve been doing for the past 20 plus years and offer the quality of food and service you get in fine dining environments, but without the fine dining perception and pretention.

“Everybody loves good food and we want to make our offer affordable and accessible to everyone, not just for special occasions. Even if it’s the classic sausage and mash, or a burger, it can be cooked simply but perfectly with carefully considered flavours and ingredients.

“We don’t do average. If you source good ingredients and treat them well, you can offer fantastic food which has had the care and attention it deserves.

“This is an exciting new step for us all and we look forward to becoming a long-standing fixture of Princes Avenue for many years to come.”

Rupert & Darwin is opening on Princes Avenue this weekend.

Rupert & Darwin has seating for 40 people in the restaurant downstairs, an outdoor terrace to the front, as well as room for an additional 20 customers in the first-floor wine bar.

Bespoke artwork by local artist Daniel Mitchell adorns the walls of the restaurant, capturing Princes Avenue in his own unique style, and rooting Rupert & Darwin in the local community.

Rupert & Darwin will also be home to Hull’s first Enomatic wine dispenser, giving customers access to tastings of high-quality, dynamic wines from around the world, which they may not have chosen to buy by the bottle or glass. There will be an additional option to compliment the wine with snacks.

The main restaurant menu has a whole host of seasonal offerings and classic dishes, with starters ranging from £4.50 to £10, including crab fishcakes and chicken liver parfait, and main courses from £10-£20, including butternut squash risotto and 8oz rump steak, accompanied by an array of beautifully cooked side dishes.

Ingredients will be locally sourced where possible, without sacrificing on quality, and the team plans to grow herbs, spices, fruit and vegetables from its kitchen rooftop garden, alongside wildflowers to encourage and protect bees.

With a strong emphasis on offering a family-friendly environment, Rupert & Darwin even asked local youngsters to sample food cooked by Michael and the team ahead of the restaurant’s opening, giving them the chance to share their thoughts, ideas and favourites to help form the nutritious, well balanced children’s menu.

Dogs are also welcome, with their own secure area outside the restaurant and designated area inside.

Customers will be given the opportunity to add an additional pound onto their bill to raise money for a nominated local charity of the month, which members of the public can suggest by dropping charity business cards into a jar at the restaurant.

James said: “We want to include children and encourage a family-friendly atmosphere, giving them nutritional food with the flavours they enjoy.

“We are also passionate dog people and we’ve created an environment where dog owners can come and relax and have a meal or a drink, while also making sure those who are afraid of dogs, or don’t want to be around them, are not disturbed.

“Princes Avenue is a well-established destination area for food and drink, and many of the businesses have specific themes, from Moroccan and Indian, to Italian and pub food, and there is a gap in the market for what we are offering.

“We are incredibly excited about this new venture, serving food and offering service we are proud of, and very much looking forward to extending a warm welcome to our customers.”

Rupert & Darwin will be open at 12 noon every day apart from Wednesday when it will be closed.

To book, or more information about opening times and menus, call 01482 444587 or visit www.rupertdarwin.com

[Katy Stevens]

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