This could be the easiest post I’ve ever written, just because I’ve had so much practice describing – even justifying – the concept to people as soon as I mention it’s a posh-eating experience at what most people recognise as a butty shop – since opening around five years ago, their bread and butter has literally been bread and butter.
You might be aware of The Greedy Pig for their pancakes or Full English and Vegetarian breakfasts (they say pizza is the great equaliser, but that’s got nothing on the unifying properties of fried breakfast foods, consciously-sourced and artfully composed, ready for Instagram) and rightly so, it’s my favourite and possibly the best brunch spot in the city – but over the past year they’ve been doubling down on their efforts to be seen as a credible evening dining option.
The Swine That Dines started life as a nose-to-tail tapas stall at some of last year’s Street Food events – managing to make overlooked cuts like tongue and heart so appealing that they regularly sold out – and then started hosting themed supper-clubs in The Greedy Pig, with menus focusing on nose-to-tail (or root-to-shoot, in the case of their vegetarian events) cooking, always encouraging responsible, resourceful eating rather than extreme-eating machismo.
Recently they took the merciful decision to host weekly small plates events at The Greedy Pig, offering 6 to 8 new dishes every week which showcase not only the best of seasonal produce, but also Chef Stu’s creativity and passion that he honed working in fine-dining under big-name chefs that I won’t name-drop. When you consider this background and talent, and the fact he’s spent years toiling away in a modest kitchen cooking modest food, The Swine That Dines menus begin to look like his way of hulking out – this week sees the sixth event, and in that time they’ve offered almost Fifty different dishes.
A couple of those dishes have appeared for a couple of weeks, having been updated or tweaked, but the only constant has been the side-order of bread. I’ve “only” tried around 12 of these dishes, but none of them have disappointed. There might be a few dishes that aren’t to everybody’s taste, but if a kitchen puts out 50 dishes that unanimously adored they’re either lacking imagination, or they’re McDonalds.
It’s a futile exercise to recommend individual dishes; by the time you’ve read this they’ll be a distant memory having been replaced by a dozen more, but past highlights include Octopus with Romesco, Goat with Fennel and Green Sauce, Kid Faggot and Mackerel with Gooseberry. Despite the name (and that testosterone-drenched list of protein dishes) there’s plenty of non-meat eaters as well, some menus only contain one or two meat dish out of the 8 available, and the combinations of ingredients and flavours are no less creative – Grilled Chicory with Blue Cheese, Cauliflower Fritter with Goats Cheese, Summer Beans with Fenugreek, and so on and so forth. I’ve dragged the most squeamish of eaters along with me on occasions, and they’ve all enjoyed food outside of their usual comfort zone.
There’s a relaxed, convivial atmosphere which is a hangover from their days as a traditional supper-club, and perfectly suits the intimate setting which only manages to squeeze in four tables, or about 12 people at a time. This does mean there’s a danger of not getting a table at first attempt, but turnaround is quick (never rushed) so by the time you’ve gone for a drink the nearby The Reliance there should be one waiting for you. “Small” plates is an overstatement – one of everything on the menu (which is the standard ordering policy) will comfortably feed 3, or absolutely stuff 2 people, and the fact it’s BYOB means it’ll only cost a guilt-inducing £15 – £20 per person.
I’ll wrap it up now because I realise it sounds like I’m gushing, and unashamedly so – I’m happy to find a new opening that’s so deserving of my gushes.
Service: Friendly and relaxed, like having dinner at a friend’s house.
Price: £5 per plate.
Hours: Service starts 6pm, last orders 9pm. Currently Fridays and Saturdays.
Address: 58 North Street, “Norther Quarter”, City Centre, Leeds