Restaurant Feature 9 - Haar
We had the privilege of catching up and speaking to Dean Banks, Masterchef: The Professionals finalist, and Director of Haar. Here’s what he had to say!
1.) Tell us about your restaurant?
We have two restaurants – one thriving and one coming soon. Dean Banks at the Pompadour is a high-end premium tasting menu experience set in the magnificent Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh. It’s a dining room I have eyed longingly for as many years as I can remember so the opportunity to get my hands on it simply could NOT be missed. We opened in June and it’s been an absolute thrill to be honest. I love the venue, the hotel, and the food, and our customers seem to agree. It lets me play around with my ethos and ideas, with local produce at the heart of all we do and my Asian fusion ideas developing in new ways. It’s a stunning environment to work, create and in which to dine and we love it.
We also have Haar St Andrews which we are frantically renovating as we speak – overseen by myself which is a little demanding but essential to ensure our standards are maintained at all times. The restaurant will open in December and I am thrilled to say it will offer high-end boutique hotel rooms for those who wish to extend their experience with us – the rooms will follow in 2022.
The restaurant itself is my St Andrews tone of casual upmarket dining – wander in from the beach after a walk with the dog and enjoy a cosy, relaxed but stylish meal. All my favourite dishes will be on offer, You’re going to love it.
2.) Tell us about your team.
My team are incredible. They work with me on every aspect of the business, from Haar At Home to Lunun Gin and the restaurants. I’m so proud of them all and the incredible efforts they put in for our future together. I am passionate about rewarding good people so ensure we do that at all times.
3.) How did you discover your passion for food?
I remember a few key moments growing up, like the first time I tried broccoli in an Asian stir-fry rather than as tasteless boiled green lumps. It’s still the only way I will eat broccoli! I grew up on an estate and money was tight so my palate developed over the years and I grew a real appreciation for food, but I have never lost that love of simplicity, so you won’t find dishes drowning in foam at my restaurants. I’m all about stunning ingredients served in ways which showcase them, not me.
4.) What’s your favourite dish on your menu?
I think it has to be my signature lobster with mirin butter sauce – it’s what everyone knows me for and I do adore my lobsters. Although look out for something inspired by my gran’s banoffee pie coming soon.
5.) What’s your most popular dish on your menu?
6.) Apart from seafood, what’s your favourite type of food?
I had the most unbelievable meal in Edinburgh recently of sweetbreads, so good I ordered another portion right away. I have a sweet tooth so I like a dessert, banoffee pie done right is hard to turn down. But any proper good Scottish ingredients well-cooked and presented. A simple steak can be to die for.
7.) What’s your go-to meal?
A nice Asian stir-fry is so fast, easy and hard to beat.
8.) How has the meal kit revenue stream impacted your business?
It’s been incredible and frankly the reason we are here at all. We launched Haar At Home because of lockdowns, and it took off beyond our wildest dreams. We now have Waagyu burger kids, lobster brioche kits, Shaaken cocktail kits and more. Haar At Home is the flagship and where you get to eat MY food just like in the restaurant, all prepped, and easy to assemble. It’s a joy to do to be honest and the response from all over the UK is astounding.
9.) If you could live off one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
What else but lobster, Dean style?
10.) Tell us about your worst experience in the kitchen!
Like all chefs I have had bad experiences and stress but I don’t want to go in to that. I like to focus on positivity and just want to say if you’re having a hard time, speak out, don’t let it beat you and trust your passion. I did – and it has worked for me.