“It’s a simple concept: chilled out, but high-end” – Interview with Luke’s Place owner
Leaving the white tablecloths and eye-watering final bills behind, Luke’s Place is a new dining concept bringing high-end small dishes served in an intimate setting to Infirmary Road. We caught up with owner Luke Reynolds last month to see how it’s all ticking along…
What’s the story behind Luke’s Place?
Having my own place has been in the plans for years, but it came to reality about a year and a half ago. That’s when I started looking for locations and developing the concepts and ideas. I’d worked in restaurants around Manchester and the Peak District for years before going freelance at the start of this year, later doing a few supper clubs around Manchester to get a feel for things. People liked the style: open, intimate, plating up and cooking in front of them. I started to look for space where the kitchen and restaurant were as one, rather than just an open kitchen.
Is there an added sense of pressure for you cooking right in front of the customers?
Perhaps at the start, but now I’m doing dishes every day, four times a day, so it’s just become second nature really. It means I can interact with the guests, explain what I’m doing and keep that friendly, relaxed vibe going.
That’s a huge part of the ethos here – high-end food but in an informal setting.
Yeah, that’s important. I wanted to strip away the uncomfortable part of high-end dining – it can be easy to feel a bit intimidated in some places. I offer great value at £30 pounds for a seven-course meal. I don’t do wine; I do beers and cocktails, so that’s different to the normal fine dining thing, but it’s just my take on it, my version. My menu changes every three months, so I think with the value and new dishes you can keep those regular customers coming back. It’s not a place you just go to celebrate on rare occasions; it’s a place you can come back to every few months. A couple last weekend had booked in again before they even left – and that’s what I want. Not a place where it’s luxury, where you pay for the building or for all the staff too; it’s a small place, just me, which means I can afford to do that menu at that price and that’s the selling point.
How does the booking system work?
At the moment it sits eight, but I’m getting a bar in next year to take it up to sixteen. So I open Wednesday to Saturday and do four sittings a day: 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, 8pm. I know exactly who is coming in and at what time, so no mistakes are made and there is no miscommunication. I have all the prep ready and it makes service a breeze.
Tell us about the menu and the inspirations behind it.
You are usually limited to what the restaurant wants as a chef. Even when I was a head chef, you have your own ideas but are limited to what a manager or owner wants. Whereas now its 100 percent what comes out of my own head. I can do food that inspires me, food I want to cook, I want to eat, that makes me excited. It can be anything I want it to be, but obviously it has to make sense. Inspiration comes from any country and any place and I’ll add some twists. It’s a simple concept: chilled out, but high-end. Stripped back of all the pretentiousness, and it won’t cost you a small fortune either.