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A French revolution down at the Navvi; It's been a quiet, under-stated launch but chef Philippe Lopez's modern English and classic French cuisine is proving a draw ... Philippe is a perfectionist and won't compromise.

Byline: Food Martin Shaw

HAVING a Michelin-starred French chef cooking in the kitchen down your local is not something you'd expect.

But that is just what is happening at the Navigation Tavern in Mirfield.

The Navi, as it is fondly known, has now re-opened its restaurant for Sunday lunches and top chef Philippe Lopez has charge of the menu. The real ale pub, next to Mirfield Railway Station, is a proper local's local but years ago it also boasted a pretty good restaurant called The Lock. Mine host Kevin O'Donnell, a one-time Kirklees councillor, has had the Navi for 16 years and built an extension to house the restaurant.

Unfortunately, Kevin had some bad luck with his chefs and dramatically shut the doors just before Christmas, several years ago.

Since then he's hankered after re-opening the restaurant but wanted to wait for the right opportunity.

Enter Yorkshire-adopted Frenchman Philippe who ran Michelin-starred restaurants in his homeland.

He went on to make a name for himself at his own restaurant, Bon Appetit in Wetherby, and has also run restaurants on Centre Court at Wimbledon and at Leeds United's Elland Road. In November, the unlikely duo teamed up to open a new restaurant offering three-course Sunday lunches.

Once word gets round the plan is to add more nights.

It's been a quiet, under-stated launch but Philippe''s modern English and classic French cuisine is proving a draw.

Kevin sticks to the beer while Philippe is very much in charge of the menu.

At the moment Philippe is operating solo in the kitchen, no mean feat when the restaurant was as busy as when we visited.

There was a party of 14 on one table so how he juggled the culinary demands only he knows.

Philippe is a perfectionist and won't compromise. He insists on making all his own sauces, pickles and accompaniments. Kevin admits that attention to detail "does my head in". The kitchen is Philippe's domain and he has free rein.

On the day we went there were five starters, six mains and five desserts to choose from.

There was the traditional roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, leg of lamb served with curly kale and red wine sauce, chicken, pork and the delicious-sounding vegetarian carrot savoury risotto with goat's cheese log and roasted red pepper.

Baby leeks and potato soup, free range chicken liver pate, ham hock terrine, crab and crayfish risotto and home-cured gravadlax made up the starters with creme brulee, chocolate pot, tarte tatin (upside down apple pie) and banoffee pie included on the dessert list.

I opted for the ham hock terrine which came with a poached quail's egg and piccalilli sauce. The tangy piccalilli went down great with the flavoursome, juicy ham.

My companion Sian choose Philippe's homemade chicken liver pate, accompanied by his own red onion marmalade and toasted brioche.

I had a taste and the pate was rich and smooth.

re Philippe is also big on presentation and these arnot the plates you would normally be served down the pub.

Mains for me was loin of pork with some cracking crackling and freshly-made apple stuffing.

ent Sian, a regular at Huddersfield's fish market, wefor the pan-seared seabass and said it was the best she had tasted.

She'll be hoping to pick up some cooking tips. The fish was served with baby spinach leaves ana spicy tomato sauce.

nd All mains come with mixed roasted vegetables and mashed and roast potatoes.

The Brussels sprouts cooked with tiny squares obacon were delicious. of el e Sian's tarte tatin with custard was excellent. The pastry had a crunch and the tartness of the applcomplimented the custard's sweetness. I had the dark chocolate pot. Thick and very rich it may not suit all tastes after a big meal. But chocolate lovers will polish it off.

h All in all a great, relaxed Sunday lunch. And grevalue too. at One course is PS8.95, two is PS11.95 and all three PS14.95.

At those prices regulars in the pub can be regulars in the restaurant too.

The bill Navigation Tavern 6 Station Road, Mirfield, WF14 8NL Tel: 01924 492476 Website: Coming soon Opening hours: Sunday noon to 5.30pm Children: Welcome Disabled: Certainly The bill: PS39.65 including drinks and coffee Would you go back? Regularly!


| SETTLE DOWN ON AT SUNDAYS: The woale and Michelin-starred French chef Philippe Lnderful Navigation Inn, home of real Lopez (JH140114navigation08)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jan 17, 2014
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