The Devonshire Cat

December 8, 2016 at 8:48 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Back in the day, the Devonshire Cat used to be my go-to place for pre-Corporation drinks – because if you’re going to spend 30 minutes queued up in the cold, then you need something to keep you going!

Despite this, I’d never actually eaten at the Devonshire Cat before, so when I heard that they’d just finished refurbing the Wellington Street venue, I was excited to see how the new-look Devonshire Cat compared to my (slightly fuzzy) pre-Corp memories. Plus, they’d just launched a brand new menu, and I’m always up for checking out a new menu!

The newly-renovated Devonshire Cat feels much lighter and more open than before, which is a welcome change, because the Dev Cat was always nice, but it did used to feel a bit on the dark side.

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Turns out, the Devonshire Cat’s new menu is perfect for this time of year, as it’s packed with comfort food and seasonal favourites. And since the Dev Cat is best known for its huge range of bottled beers and real ales, it’s great to see them continue this theme across their food, with a menu that features plenty of booze-infused treats including mussels in wheat beer broth, chicken thighs roasted in Heathen pale ale, and Absolution battered cod.

I kicked off my three course meal with something suitably wintry: a warm salad of red cabbage, beetroot, apple and goat’s cheese (£4.75).

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For the price, this is a generous portion, and the goat’s cheese gives this salad an indulgent feel (if only this could be said of all salads!) The beetroot was fresh, rather than pickled, which means this salad has a really unique, woody flavour that contrasts nicely with the rich, creamy goat’s cheese. This is a great vegetarian starter!

Meanwhile, my friend had opted for the honey and ginger chicken wings, which were served with homemade ketchup (£5.50).

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The homemade ketchup was packed with flavour and had a nice kick to it. The chicken wings did have a hint of ginger and honey to them, but my friend did say they’d have preferred these wings to pack more of a punch when it came to the ginger and honey.

Onto the mains, and surely I can’t be the only one who’s fed up of seeing the same 2-3 vegetarian options on every pub menu? There’s only so many times you can order a veggie wellington, mac and cheese, veggie burger or vegetarian lasagna, before you start craving something a bit more exciting – or at least something different!

So I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Devonshire Cat have clearly put as much thought into their vegetarian meals, as they have the rest of their menu.

In the end, I wound up ordering the roast chestnuts and wild mushroom cottage pie, which came with braised red cabbage and green beans (£8.95). This might just be one of the tastiest-sounding vegetarian meals I’ve ever seen on a pub menu!

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Chestnuts are my all-time favourite Christmas treat anyway, to the point where I actually named my childhood hamster after them (RIP Chestnut). As it turns out, the only thing better than roast chestnuts, are chestnuts and wild mushrooms smothered in mashed potatoes. If you’re craving something to warm you up on a cold day, then this is it!

Despite almost being swayed by the Devonshire Cat’s Sunday roast, when it came to their main course my dining companion wound up ordering the Absolution-battered cod, double-cooked chips, mushy peas and homemade tartar sauce (£9.95).

This is an enormous plate of food!

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The fish was perfectly cooked so it practically fell apart, and the homemade tartar sauce was every bit as good as the homemade ketchup – clearly the Devonshire Cat know to knock up a cracking sauce!

The only slight disappointment were the mushy peas, which had somehow managed to set – these were mushy peas that were seriously missing the “mushy!”

But, non-mushy peas aside, this is huge, tasty meal that’s guaranteed to please the fish and chips fan in your life.

Finally it was time to check out the dessert menu, and although I don’t have much of a sweet tooth one thing on the menu did catch my eye – the rice pudding!

This is a proper oldschool dessert that you don’t often see on menus, plus it was absolutely freezing outside, and what better way to warm up than stuffing yourself with some piping hot rice pudding? So even though I had serious doubts about whether I had any room for dessert, I ended up ordering what our waiter later confirmed was the biggest, stodgiest pudding on the menu. Whoops!

The Devonshire Cat’s rice pudding is served with homemade plum and honey jam, topped with honeycomb pieces (£4.50). According to the menu, all the honey is supplied by the Sheffield Honey Company – it’s always great to see pubs and restaurants sourcing ingredients locally!

Let’s just get one thing out of the way first – I love rice pudding, but there’s no denying that it looks like frogspawn, so even with the best will in the world, this is never going to be the most photogenic of puddings!

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But, photography woes aside, the Devonshire Cat’s rice pudding tastes fantastic. I particularly loved the plum and honey jam, which struck a perfect balance between sweet and tart. My only complaint is that there just wasn’t enough jam for such a huge portion of rice pudding – I wanted more!

When I’d first spotted rice pudding on the menu, I’d been particularly excited at the prospect of trying honeycomb – in my head I’d been picturing those big chunks of straight-from-the-beehive honeycomb that you sometimes see suspended in jars of posh honey. Turns out I was on completely the wrong track, as the honeycomb that arrived was more like honeycomb toffee. As someone who has more than their fair share of fillings, chewing my way through this incredibly tough, sticky honeycomb was a bit of a nerve-wracking experience, but it was tasty enough to risk losing a filling or two!  

Rice pudding is pretty stodgy to begin with, and this is a massive portion, so just a friendly warning: only order this if you’re seriously hungry!

My friend had opted for something equally seasonal: pumpkin pie with pistachio brittle, homemade marshmallows, and Bradwells vanilla ice cream (£4.75).

Unlike my rice pudding, this dessert definitely had the ‘wow’ factor!

dev-cat-pumpkin-pie

Not only did this pie look great, but the pastry was light and crumbly, and the pumpkin filling had a lovely velvety texture, making this a winning dessert.

All in all, I love the Devonshire Cat’s new menu, particularly since they’re not content to serve the usual staples; even putting their own spin on all-time pub grub classics like fish and chips (which the Devonshire Cat serve in Absolution batter).  

This is also a very seasonal menu that’s perfect for the colder months, so if you do find yourself in the city center on a cold day (perhaps you’re doing some panic-stricken, last minute Christmas shopping?) then I’d definitely recommend making the whole experience less painful by treating yourself to some warming food at the Devonshire Cat.

four-stars

Owlerton Stadium – Sheffield’s Top Night

October 4, 2016 at 9:11 am | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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A few weeks ago I reviewed the new menu at Napoleons casino on Ecclesall Road, and it seems like a theme is emerging as this week I got invited to Owlerton Stadium to try some food, bet on some greyhounds, and generally celebrate the venue’s rebrand as ‘Sheffield’s Top Night.’

The event started at 6pm, and we arrived at 5:50pm expecting to be the first people there, only to find a queue of eager ticket-holders already forming in the car park. Clearly Owlerton Stadium is popular Saturday night spot!

Once we’d finally worked our way to the front of the queue, we were shown to the venue’s Panorama Restaurant which offers fantastic views over the dog track.

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The whole restaurant is designed to pull you into the races happening below – as if the view over the track wasn’t enough, there’s also numerous television screens mounted around the room that cycle through a mixture of close ups, action replays and photo finishes of each race.

The Panorama Restaurant is enormous, but by the end of the night the place was absolutely packed with people having a great time. I was also surprised by just how diverse the diners were – everyone from families with children in tow, to senior parties, to younger people who were clearly on a Saturday night out, dressed up and ordering bottles of fizz. This great mix of people only added to the atmosphere.

The Panorama Restaurant itself has a fun, informal feel – this may have had something to do with the fact that many of the diners were wearing fuzzy dog ears, which the staff were handing out at the door. If there’s anything better than spending your Saturday night in a room full of people wearing furry dog ears, then I haven’t discovered it yet!

owlerton-dog-ears

As I’ve mentioned in pretty much every one of Napoleons’ reviews, gambling isn’t really my thing, but towards the end of the evening I did find myself getting caught up in the atmosphere and couldn’t resist having a flutter on a few dogs whose names made me chuckle (always the best approach if you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing). I can confirm that I’m about as successful at picking a winning greyhound as I am at roulette, so sadly I didn’t make my fortune on this particular evening.

You eat at the Panorama Restaurant as part of a very reasonable package deal, which includes 3 courses, a table overlooking the dog track, and even a tote runner who pops by your table before each race and offers to place your bets for you – because no-one wants to get up halfway through a 3 course meal in order to go stand in a queue!

When it comes to the food, the Panorama Restaurant specialises in unpretentious grub – it’s not fancy, but it’s enjoyable. Case in point, my starter of potato and leek soup with thyme and garlic croutons.

owlerton-potato-soup

This is a lovely winter warmer that manages to be rich and creamy without being too stodgy, and the croutons went heavy on the garlic, which I loved.

My dining companion opted for an equally no-nonsense starter, in the form of Yorkshire puddings covered in Henderson’s onion gravy.

owlerton-yorkshire-pudding

The Yorkshire puddings were nicely cooked, which was a relief because I’ve ordered several Sunday roasts recently and the Yorkshire puds have always been black around the edges – this certainly wasn’t the case with Owlerton’s Yorkshire puds!

But the Henderson’s gravy was what really made this starter special. This gravy had a really unique, tangy aftertaste that’s utterly addictive, to the point where I’ve made it my mission to replicate this Henderson’s gravy at home. Wish me luck!

Onto the mains and I had opted for the mushroom, pumpkin and chickpea cottage pie with cheddar mash.

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This cottage pie is pure comfort food, especially the mash which tasted strongly of cheddar. The filling was also really tasty, with a good amount of mushrooms and chickpeas, although I struggled to taste any pumpkin in my pie.  

All in all, this was a lovely veggie cottage pie, and it was nice to see a vegetarian option that’s something different from the usual nut roast, veg wellington or vegetarian tart.

Each main course is served with a selection of vegetables and potatoes. When I ordered my cottage pie, the waitress had asked whether I was a vegetarian, and then explained that the regular side of vegetables and potatoes isn’t actually vegetarian friendly, so they’d need to make me a separate portion. The fact that the veg isn’t vegetarian friendly isn’t mentioned anywhere the menu, which I feel is a bit of an oversight, as there’s all kinds of dietary requirements that may mean finding bacon mixed in with your veggies isn’t going to be a pleasant experience.

The side turned out to be cauliflower and broccoli covered in cheese, shredded cabbage, and a helping of roast potatoes.

owlerton-veg-and-potato-side

I’m pretty partial to cauliflower cheese, but this is the first time I’ve ever encountered broccoli cheese. Turns out it’s even tastier than cauliflower cheese, so this is something else I’m going to have a go at replicating at home (thanks for the inspiration, Owlerton Stadium!)

The roast potatoes were very nice too – strongly seasoned, crispy on the outside but light and fluffy on the inside, just like all good roasties should be.

And if you’re interested, the non-veggie version of this side is more of the same, but with bacon bits mixed into the vegetables.

Meanwhile, my friend had opted for the slow roasted belly pork, which was served with braised red cabbage, apples, and a port and rosemary sauce.

owlerton-belly-pork

The portion of roast pork was absolutely enormous, and had a strong rosemary flavour, while the red cabbage and apples complemented the pork perfectly. The only criticism is that my friend would have preferred their crackling to be a bit crunchier.

Onto dessert, and I couldn’t resist ordering the sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel sauce, while my friend was tempted by the plum and almond tart, which came with clotted cream ice cream.

Strangely, both of us took a bite of our puddings and instantly had that horrible realisation that, even though there was technically nothing really wrong with either pudding, we’d ordered something that simply wasn’t to our taste. Whoops!  

Rather than wasting two puddings, we swapped plates and realised that, actually, we both preferred the other person’s pudding way more than our own. Disaster averted!  

The high point of my I-really-should-have-ordered-this-instead plum and almond tart, was easily the ice cream, as the clotted cream gave it an extra richness.

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Meanwhile, the sticky toffee pudding may not have been the greatest looking dessert in the world (and I did try my hardest to get a good shot of it) but my friend enjoyed the taste, which is all that matters.

owlerton-sticky-toffee-pudding

Since I’d visited Napoleons just a few weeks before, it’s difficult for me not to compare the two – and there’s one stark difference. Whereas Napoleons’ restaurant clearly sets out to stand on its own, at Owlerton Stadium it’s impossible to separate the food from the greyhound racing.

Everything from the restaurant’s layout, to the tote runners, to the fact that the lights are turned off at the start of each race, seems designed to pull you into the greyhound racing, to the point where there’s no way you’d visit Owlerton Stadium if you didn’t intend on placing at least a couple of bets throughout the night.

If you enjoy a few cheeky bets in general or greyhound racing in particular, then Owlerton is a really fun night out. The atmosphere is fantastic, and during this particular Saturday the whole venue was packed with people having a fantastic time. The food was also enjoyable, especially considering the price (3 courses for £15 is great value, even without the added entertainment) and I enjoyed everything except my original pudding.

If you’re planning a trip to Owlerton Stadium, then you should really look into booking yourself a table at the Panorama Restaurant.

Three and a half stars

 

The Botanist

October 2, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Leopold Square has seen several restaurants come and go over the years, and now we have another newbie to add to the list: the Botanist, which has just opened in the unit formerly known as Popolo.  

The Botanist isn’t a name I’ve encountered before, but a quick look at their website reveals quite a few Botanists dotted around the UK, so they must be doing something right!

Before visiting the Botanist on opening night, I had a sneaky peek at a few photos on the venue’s Facebook page, so I already knew they’d gone for an extravagant, more-is-more theme. However, even looking through numerous photos didn’t prepare me for just how beautiful this restaurant truly is!

Our party was greeted at the entrance and taken up a flight of stairs that felt familiar from all my years spent sipping cocktails at Popolo’s, but then we were take up another flight of stairs, and another, and everything began to feel very different. For starters, this place is enormous!

Eventually we emerged into a corridor that was completely covered in branches, leaves, vines, flowers and other assorted foliage, and decorated with twinkling green and white lights. I didn’t think it was possible to be wowed by a corridor, but apparently I was wrong!

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But this was nothing compared to the main dining area.

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The Botanist is beautiful, with vines, leaves and flowers all curling and creeping artistically across every surface, and lots of intricate latticework. Fairy lights, street lamps, and decorative butterflies provide the finishing touches to this pretty, whimsical dining room. I felt like I’d stepped off the streets of Sheffield and into some kind of secret garden (as corny as that sounds, I challenge anyone to visit the Botanist and not get caught up in the magic!)

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I must have spent the first 5 minutes snapping photo after photo, without even thinking to look at the menu – and I was ravenous, so that’s testament to just how lovely this place is to look at!

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But you don’t visit a restaurant just to look at nice furnishings, so was the food any good?  

My first course was very good, as I tucked into a starter of curried mussels (£7.50).

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These mussels were tender and juicy, and were served in a deliciously light, fragrant broth that contained just enough chilli to provide a nice kick, without overwhelming the taste of the mussels. After I’d polished off the mussels, I spent ages scooping up every last drop of the broth, as it was just too good to waste!

If you love your seafood, then this is your dream starter.

My friend opted for a baked camembert, which was served with a smoked bacon and crispy onion crust (£6.95).

My friend is pregnant, so she asked whether the staff could make sure the camembert was cooked all the way through. Not only were the staff happy to oblige, but they made a point of popping back to the table to let us know that the starters would be a while longer because the chef was making sure the camembert was really, truly piping hot all the way through. Clearly, the staff took this request seriously, which was very much appreciated!

When it arrived the camembert looked delicious, and was baked all the way through as promised.

baked-camembert

Kicking off a meal with a full camembert may sound a bit daunting, but this particular camembert is the perfect starter size.  

I can see myself ordering this at some point, especially now the weather’s turning cooler – because if there’s anything better than baked camembert on a cold day, then I’ve yet to discover it!

Onto the mains, and the chilli broth from my starter had left me craving a spicy main, so I was excited to spot a Malaysian curry on the menu. You can order this as a chicken or a vegetarian curry; I went for the veggie version (£9.95).

malaysian-curry-botanist

This was my first taste of Malaysian curry, and I found it to be a much lighter, fresher take on your typical curry. Instead of a rich tomato or creamy coconut sauce, this curry had a light broth that wasn’t too dissimilar to my starter.

The Botanist’s curry delivered a subtle heat that was warming and tasty, rather than being spicy just for the sake of it – an approach that I’m a big fan of, because what’s the point of having your tastebuds burnt off by a curry that doesn’t even taste good?!

My only niggle is that, for a main course, this portion is a bit on the small side, so if you fancy the Malaysian curry then you should probably make a point of ordering a starter or a dessert as well.

My friend ordered something truly exciting for their main meal: one of the Botanist’s famous Hanging Kebabs. The menu promised a hanging kebab of either chicken, lamb or beef (priced at £11.50, £12.50 or £13.95, respectively) “sopped” in sweet chilli sauce, garlic and ginger butter, and suspended over a bowl of chips.

I was curious to see what a hanging main course looks like, and the Botanist didn’t disappoint, as this definitely isn’t your typical main meal!

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The idea is that the sweet chilli, garlic butter and (there’s no nice way to say this) meat juices drip down onto the chips and seasons them. The Botanist’s hanging kebab is one of those culinary guilty pleasures, like chip shop curry sauce or super noodles covered in melted cheese. It isn’t elegant or sophisticated, but it is lots of fun and is absolutely packed with flavour. This got a big thumbs up from my friend!

We’d reached the final course, and I had serious doubts about whether I had room for pudding. Then I saw that the Botanist serve a Rocky Road hanging kebab (£5.50)  and I realised that yes, I did have enough room for dessert after all.

botanist-rocky-road-kebab

The Rocky Road kebab is a mix of strawberries, hazelnut brownie chunks and yummy toasted marshmallows, all suspended over a bowl full of chocolate crumbs and served with a tub of biscuit sauce. The idea is that you pour the sauce over the kebab so that it drips over the fruit, brownies and marshmallows, and eventually melts into the bowl of biscuit crumb, where the two merge into the ultimate sweet, sticky sauce.

This isn’t just a novelty dessert, it’s really tasty too! I particularly enjoyed the chunks of hazelnut brownie, which were wonderfully rich, and the marshmallows which were perfectly toasted so they were warm and gooey on the inside.  

This dessert also isn’t too heavy, so it’s perfect if (like me) you’re struggling to find room, but still fancy something sweet to round off your meal. Plus, pouring the sauce over the kebab is just fun! This dessert is guaranteed to leave you with a big smile on your face.

My friend had opted for a regular, non-hanging dessert: warm chocolate fudge cake with vanilla ice cream (£5.50).

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This is a dense, indulgent dessert served with lashings of thick chocolate sauce – basically, everything you could want from a slice of cake!

And thus concluded a fantastic evening at the Botanist.

I’m recommend paying a visit just to gawp at the gorgeous decor, but the Botanist isn’t a case of style over substance, as they also serve great food at reasonable prices. I’m now obsessed with the idea of hanging mains and desserts, as it just brings something new and fun to a regular meal out. The staff were also very friendly, attentive and only too happy to make adjustments to our meals, which was very much appreciated.

There’s no shortage of restaurants in Sheffield, but we certainly don’t have anything like the Botanist, which makes this a really exciting addition to the Sheffield food scene.

You know a place is good when you immediately want to share it with other people, and I can’t wait to introduce my friends and family to the Botanist, partly so I can see their reaction to the interior but also just because the Botanist serves some really fantastic food. 

5-stars

Hope and Anchor

September 24, 2016 at 10:42 am | Posted in Cocktail Bar, Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Did you know that Anchorage in West One Plaza is being relaunched? We’re talking a new interior, new menu and even a new name.

This was news to me, as a few weeks ago I popped into Anchorage for Sunday lunch and everything seemed normal, but then I walked past a few days later and the whole place was shut up, with a new sign hanging above the door. Apparently Anchorage is no more – say hello to Hope and Anchor.

I have to say, the last few times I visited Anchorage I wasn’t completely wowed by the menu. I initially fell in love with Anchorage for their amazing tuna niçoise, and a friend of mine still raves about the hanger steak Anchorage used to serve when they first opened. Sadly, both of these meals vanished from the menu at some point, and Anchorage never replaced them with anything that quite lived up to those two great meals – so perhaps it was time time for a change!

This post is going to be a bit different from the usual, as I was invited to a preview of Hope and Anchor’s upcoming menu, which involved eating lots of scaled-down, canapé versions of their mains and light bites, rather than ordering off the regular menu.  

I didn’t even plan on blogging about this event, but after going through all my photos from the night I realised this was actually a pretty good introduction to Hope and Anchor, so I wanted to do more than just share a few snaps on Twitter. Hopefully, these little snippets will help you decide whether you want to try out Hope and Anchor’s menu for yourself.

When we visited, Hope and Anchor were still midway through revamping the interior, but it was already clear that the new, darker colour scheme makes the venue feel much cosier. It reminded me a lot of sister venue the Wick at Both Ends, which to me has always felt like the perfect autumn pub. I can picture myself enjoying some mulled wine or cider in Hope and Anchor once the cold weather starts to set in.

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Hope and Anchor’s menu seems to be about providing as much choice as possible, as you can order every main course as either a fully-fledged main or as a smaller “light bite” if you’re not that hungry. You can also order any of Hope and Anchor’s light bites individually as a snack or starter, or you can order several light bites and create your own tapas-style spread (3 for £10, or 5 for £15).

Over the course of a few hours, I got to sample canapé versions of several of Hope and Anchor’s light bites and mains. While this means I didn’t get to try anything off the menu as you’d typically experience it, it did give me a good overview of what Hope and Anchor’s menu is all about.

First up, was a sample of one of Hope and Anchor’s light bites: celeriac pakora, apple and mango chutney (£3.50).

celeriac-pakora-apple-and-mango-chutney

Just a few weeks ago I had the best celeriac mash at Napoleons, so I was excited to see another place embracing my new favourite vegetable. Hope and Anchor’s mini celeriac pakoras didn’t disappoint, as they were packed with flavour. I also loved the accompanying sweet, sticky mango chutney which complimented the nuttiness of the celeriac pakoras perfectly. I definitely want to try the full-sized version of this!

The second light bite was bresaola, fig chutney, and hazelnut dressing (£5).

bresaola

I’d never heard of bresaola before, but turns out it’s air-dried, salted beef. I don’t eat meat, but my dining companion said they enjoyed the bresaola, although they weren’t overly keen on the fig chutney, which was a bit too sweet for their liking.

Onto the mains, and I got to sample a mini portion of fish and chips (well, technically just the fish part of fish and chips) which was served with pea purée and tartar sauce (£10.95).

fish-chips-pea-puree-tartar-sauce

I’m not usually a massive fan of battered fish, so I wasn’t expecting to really enjoy this – turns out I loved it! The batter was light and grease-free, which is always a plus as there’s nothing worse than wet, slimy batter.

The piece of fish inside the batter was also pretty much spot on – tender, meaty and very tasty. This canapé was finished off with a dollop of pea purée, which had one of the most intense pea flavours I’ve ever experienced, and was all kinds of delicious.

When I’m handed a menu, fish and chips is typically the last thing I want to order, and even when I treat myself to chippy tea it’s all about the chips and curry sauce, hold the battered cod. However I enjoyed this taster of Hope and Anchor’s fish and chips so much, that I wouldn’t rule out ordering the full version of this at some point in the future.

The next main was one of Hope and Anchor’s veggie-friendly options: roast sweet potato, apple, brie stack, cauliflower and romesco sauce (£12).

roast-sweet-potato-apple-brie-stack

Unlike the fish and chips, this sounded like something I’d definitely order, but it actually turned out to be my least favourite out of everything I got to sample, as all I could taste was sweet potato. I struggled to find any hint of the brie, apple or romesco sauce, which was a shame because this combination of flavours sounds like perfection! It’s possible that this main just didn’t translate properly to miniature, and the ratio of ingredients was off, so I’d be willing to give this another go. 

Jumping from the veggie-friendly option to something that’s definitely not veggie-friendly: the rib eye steak and mushroom ketchup, which according to the menu is usually accompanied by chips, baby gem and roast tomato (£22).

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If you like your meat on the rarer side, then this steak was perfection – juicy, tender and very pink in the middle. The mushroom ketchup had a really earthy, concentrated mushroom flavour, which you’re either going to love or hate.

But I’ve saved the best until last: blackened cod with giant couscous and pak choi (£12.95).

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This was amazing! The blackened cod had a smoky, almost charcoal flavour that had me craving more from the very first bite, and was served on a bed of giant couscous.

I’m a massive fan of all things grain and grain-like: couscous, quinoa, rice, bulgur, orzo, I love it all, so I was always going to enjoy this. The person I was dining with is the exact opposite: they hate couscous, to the point where initially they didn’t even want to try the blackened cod. However, this taster completely changed their mind, to the point where they said this was something they’d choose to order!

You know a meal is good when it manages to win over someone who was expecting to hate it.

Looking beyond this selection of mains and light bites, Hope and Anchor’s menu includes quite a few other things that I can’t wait to try: goat’s cheese risotto; seafood linguine with market fish, shrimp and clams; rice pudding with stewed autumn fruits, and a baked blackberry cheesecake with poached apples. Don’t those two desserts just sound like the perfect winter warmers?

While it’s difficult to judge a restaurant based on what’s essentially canapés, I left Hope and Anchor convinced that I need to return and try the new menu properly. This menu seems like a huge improvement on Anchorage’s last few menus, although I am a bit sad that Anchorage’s Mac and Cheese burger hasn’t survived the transition to Hope and Anchor.

All in all, an exciting peek into a new(ish) restaurant, and I can’t wait to experience a few of my favourite canapés in their full-sized glory – starting of course with that blackened cod and giant couscous!

Napoleons Ecclesall Road

September 22, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 2 Comments
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One of the really fun things about running a food blog, is that it gives you that little extra push to try new places, rather than always falling back on “the usual.”

And that’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago, when the very nice people at Napoleons on Ecclesall Road got in touch and asked whether I’d like to attend a bloggers evening. Food, cocktails, and even a few (what turned out to be disastrous) spins on the roulette wheel. How could I say no to that?

I’ve eaten at a few different Napoleons restaurants now, and each time I always come away wondering “that was great, why don’t I eat here more often?”

Napoleons just isn’t somewhere I automatically think of when I’m in the mood to treat myself to some great food, and I know I’m not alone in this. Spoiler alert: the food was so good that I couldn’t resist showing the photos to a few friends, and they were all suddenly eager to pay Napoleons a visit, even though they’d never even considered eating at a casino before.  

Napoleons’ menus always feature lots of unusual, “gastro pub” style ingredients, plus plenty of fish and seafood, which pretty much makes it the perfect menu in my eyes! Right off the bat, I was seriously struggling to decide what to order for my first course. Should I go for the garlic-scented potato soup, the Tandoori-spiced salmon, or the goat’s cheese curd on toast? Everything just sounded so good!

Ultimately, my love for anything goats cheese-related won through, and I opted for the goat’s cheese curd on toast, which came with roasted pine nuts and blackberries.

napoleons goats cheese.png

Blackberries and goat’s cheese curd isn’t a combo I’ve encountered before, but it turned out to be a winner! I also loved the contrast between the light and fluffy, almost whipped, goat’s cheese curd and the crunchiness of the toasted pine nuts.

This starter is on the lighter side, but Napoleons still manage to pack in those different flavours and textures, making this the perfect way to start a 3 course meal.

My dining companion was feeling adventurous, so they ordered the roast pigeon. The pigeon came with cherry puree and mustard jus, plus a warning that the pigeon may contain shot! It’s not every day that your food comes with that kind of disclaimer.

napoleons-roasted-pigeon

This was my friend’s first time eating pigeon, and the first time I’d seen a pigeon that wasn’t covered in feathers and sat on my windowsill cooing at 5am. Turns out pigeon meat is a lot darker than either of us had been expecting! It also had an unusual texture that’s apparently not too dissimilar to liver, as well as a seriously strong, gamey flavour.  

The cherry jus (complete with bonus cherry) was every bit as sweet and sticky as it sounded, and complimented the rich gaminess of the pigeon perfectly.

And just in case you were wondering, nope, we didn’t find any shot in the pigeon.

As I tucked into my starter, I sipped my way through a few of Napoleons’ cocktails: a light, fruity and dangerously easy-drinking Cosmopolitan (£6.95) and a seriously strong Old Fashioned (£6.95).

napoleons-cocktail

Onto the mains, and once again I was completely spoilt for choice – why isn’t it socially acceptable to order multiple main courses? Right up until the very last minute I was flipping back and forth between ordering the salmon, or the Cauliflower Four Ways (who knew you could do so much with the humble cauliflower?)

In the end, I settled on the seared escalope of salmon, which was served with celeriac mash, tenderstem broccoli and mussel jus.

napoleons-roasted-salmon

I hadn’t expected the jus to contain any actual mussels, so I was happy to spot quite a few whole mussels on my plate – surprise seafood is always a good thing! Speaking of seafood, the portion of salmon was on the generous side, and was perfectly cooked so it flaked apart as soon as I cut into it.

But the best part of the meal was the celeriac mash. This delicious veggie mash delivered that warm, glowy feeling you only get from pure comfort food, but with a very distinctive and unique taste, which I loved. I’d even go as far as to say I enjoyed this more than traditional mash potato (and this is coming from someone who could happily polish off a mountain of mash potato!)

My friend had also opted for some good old fashioned comfort food, in the form of roast lamb, which came with grilled baby gem lettuce, peas, peppers and anchovy fritters.

napoleons-roasted-lamp-rump

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: the lamb looked incredible! Apparently, it tasted every bit as good as it looked.

If I was being super critical, I’d say that based on the menu I’d been expecting more than a single anchovy fritter (after all, the menu did promise fritters) but the single fritter was very tasty, especially the light, tempura-style batter.  

Since everything so far had been pretty much perfect, I decided to take a risk with my pudding, which is how I ended up with Napoleons’ salted caramel crème brûlée.

Salted caramel is up there with my favourite things ever, but crème brûlée? Not so much. I’ve tried crème brûlée a grand total of once, and I swear if I try hard enough I can still recall that horrible, gloopy texture and burnt caramel taste in excruciating detail.

But every dessert deserves a second chance, right? Especially when there’s salted caramel involved. So I decided to give this whole crème brûlée malarky another shot.

napoleons-salted-caramel

This turned out to be approximately one million times better than my first, disastrous foray into the world of crème brûlée, and Napoleons got that tricky balance of sweet and salty just right – although I’m still not completely convinced that crème brûlée is the dessert for me!

My friend went down the savoury route with their dessert.

napoleons-cheese-board

Napoleons’ cheeseboard is a selection of mature cheddar, stilton and brie, served with crackers, fruit chutney, celery, grapes and even a slice of fruitcake.

Too often cheeseboards are literally just that: a board with cheese on it. As much as I love cheese, the same flavour is always going to get boring after a while, so it was nice to have lots of different added extras to shake things up a bit. The slice of light, moist fruitcake went down particularly well!

And so concluded our Napoleons experience, and the only negative thing I have to say about the whole night is that I didn’t win big on the roulette wheel. My complimentary £5 chip seemed to mysteriously vanish into thin air, and I was back at the bar ordering another glass of wine in record time.

If you do decide to pay Napoleons a visit (and you should) then just be aware that the menu changes on a monthly basis, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Bad, because if you have a particularly good meal at Napoleons, then chances are the next time you visit it’ll be gone from the menu. Or, you can look on the bright side: there’s always something new to try!

After glancing through the menus for the next couple of months, I already have a list of things I can’t wait to order! Fragrant Thai scented mussels, caramel and honeycomb cheesecake, goat’s cheese spring rolls, and salted caramel popcorn pots! The latter makes my very, very happy. There’s even a main course that includes something called pepper paint. I have no idea what that is, but I know I want to experience it!

But by far the best thing about Napoleons’ menu are the prices. On Saturday you can enjoy two courses for £22, or three courses for £24. And if you dine on Sunday-Friday then those prices get knocked down a few pounds, to £19 for 2 courses or £21 for three courses.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a casino fan (and ditto, because my most exciting gambling-related experience is still that time I won a Minions cuddly tool on the “grabbers” along Scarborough sea front) then I’d still recommend taking a look at Napoleons’ menu. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

You should also check out some of the blogs and photos from the other lovely Sheffield bloggers who attended this event:

four-stars

Wick at Both Ends

May 22, 2016 at 5:43 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Big changes are afoot at the Wick at Both Ends. Although I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few Wick menu launches, this is probably the most dramatic menu change I’ve ever seen from the Wick at Both Ends.

Not only is their new menu completely different (more on that in a moment) but after chatting to some of the Wick’s staff it became clear that their opening hours and kitchen staff are different, too. The Wick no longer opens during the day Monday-Friday, and as someone who doesn’t work the traditional Monday-Friday, 9-5, that makes me pretty sad. Secondly, they have a completely new kitchen team, which may explain why the new menu is so, well, new.

I didn’t get the chance to look at the Wick’s latest menu in advance, so I was a bit surprised when I arrived and was handed a single-sheet menu divided into Snacks, Bar Bites, Small Plates and Sweets – not a main course in sight!

Since the Wick have done away with main courses completely, this also means that the day has finally come: they’ve taken their goat’s cheese and flat field mushroom burger off the menu, which was my favourite. This makes me sadder than it probably should.  

We decided to start by seeing what the Bar Bites were all about. I went for Spiced Hummus, Sumac and Flatbread (£3.50).

wick at both ends hummus

This is fantastic value for money – just look at all that hummus! If you’re feeling peckish after one too many Wick cocktails, then this would be perfect to order for yourself, or you could even share it with a friend as there’s more than enough hummus to go around.

Despite being described as “spiced hummus,” I didn’t find this particularly spicy, so I do wish the hummus packed more of a punch! Interestingly, the hummus seems to have been made with peanut butter, as it has that thick, smooth and distinctly peanut butter texture. This made it the perfect consistency for spreading on the accompanying slices of bread, which had been toasted to crunchy perfection.

This is a seriously filling, and very tasty snack, with more than enough hummus and bread to share, if you’re feeling generous.

My friend went for Bacon Jam, Apple and Sourdough (£5.00).

wick at both ends bacon jam

The bacon jam was seriously salty, but that worked well with the refreshing, crisp slivers of green apple. Once again, this is great value for money, and for a humble bar snack, it was really nicely presented.

We also wanted to see what the Small Plates were all about, so we ordered a round of these, as well. My friend picked the Blade of Beef, Enoki Mushroom, Onion and Dashi (£7.00), and once again the Wick deserve top marks for presentation!  

wick at both ends blade of beef

Randomly, the onions were the best thing on this plate, which may have something to do with the dashi. Dashi isn’t something I’m familiar with, but according to good old Google it’s a Japanese broth that forms the basis of miso soup (yum, yum) which might explain why these onions were so strong, and so delicious.

For the price, there was a good amount of beef on the plate, although my friend said the beef was a bit more well done than they’d have liked.

For my small plate, I’d gone for the Sea Trout, with Camomile Butter, Sorrel and Leeks (£7.00). Yet again, the Wick put that little extra bit of effort into their presentation.

wick at both ends sea trout

The trout was cooked to perfection; it was tender and juicy and fell apart the second I cut into it. The accompanying camomile butter had melted into an indulgent, flavour-packed sauce. Even better, the trout and leeks had been sat soaking in this sauce, so they’d absorbed all those delicious, buttery flavours. The leeks in particular were melt-in-the-mouth soft and oozing with yummy melted butter. Why can’t all veggies be served in lashings of camomile butter?

My only complaint is that there isn’t an option to have the trout and leeks as a main meal, because I’d devour a full-sized portion of this!

The latest menu from the Wick doesn’t feel so much like a new menu, as it does a new direction for the Wick at Both Ends. The Wick may have been serving tapas-style small plates for a while now, but it’s always been alongside more traditional main meals, and the focus on nibbles and bar snacks is completely new.

This menu seems to be designed to tempt you into ordering some snacks to go with your drinks, rather than getting you to book a table and head to the Wick for dinner. As someone who’s prone to the beer munchies, I can imagine nipping into the Wick for a few drinks and being tempted by a few things off the Snacks and Bar Bites section, particularly since it’s such good value for money.

It’s also nice to see a restaurant being more experimental with their nibbles, because there’s only so many times you can share a bowl of chips, onion rings, or nachos with toppings, before you start craving something a little bit different.

Not going to lie though, I wish they’d kept that burger!

rating-3-star

Rhubarb and Mustard

May 2, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Walking down Ecclesall Road a few months back, I was surprised to see that Smith and Jones is no more, and in its place is a new restaurant: Rhubarb and Mustard.

Once I got home, I wasted no time looking up their website and found a sample menu packed full of unusual ‘gastro pub’ style ingredients such as nettle puree, blood orange gel, squid ink puree, and honeycomb and pistachio dukkah. Rhubarb and Mustard’s menu isn’t a million miles removed from the Wig and Pen, or the Milestone. I love both of these restaurants so I knew I had to give Rhubarb and Mustard a try.

It was a rainy weekday evening when I finally made it to Rhubarb and Mustard. Despite the fact that it was a school night and a miserable, drizzly evening to boot, there were quite a few people tucking into delicious-looking Rhubarb and Mustard grub, which is always a good sign.

Me and my friend fancied something to snack on before our main meals, so we decided to share a starter. The waiter took our order and then immediately returned with some complimentary homemade breads and dips, which were delicious and vanished in no time at all. A freebie is always appreciated, especially when it’s this tasty!

bread and dip

When our starter arrived, it became clear that Rhubarb and Mustard is the kind of restaurant that serves small, perfectly formed portions rather than food that’s going to leave you stuffed. The Salt and Pepper Squid (£7) was a lot smaller than I’d been expecting.

rhubarb and mustard squid starter

Despite feeling pretty conspicuous, sat there sharing such a small plate of food, the salt and pepper squid was fantastic. The squid was perfectly cooked, so it was really tender and juicy, and the batter was light, crumbly and had a delicious salt and pepper taste.

The squid was served with a Thai-inspired slaw that had a satisfying crunch, a light and zesty creme fraiche, and a handful of cashew nuts. The whole thing was finished off with a helping of homemade sweet chilli jam that had a serious kick, and worked really well with the cooling creme fraiche.

Sure, for £7 this isn’t a lot of food, but this is definitely a case of quality over quantity, so the salt and pepper squid feels like it’s well worth the £7. I would order this again – I just wouldn’t order it to share, as there’s not nearly enough salt and pepper squid to go around.

Onto the mains, and me and my friend committed the cardinal sin of food blogging and ordered the exact same thing. Not ideal when you’re checking out a restaurant for the first time, but neither of us could resist Rhubarb and Mustard’s incredible-sounding Scallop and Crab Burger (£17).

rhubarb and mustard scallop and crab

Straight away, I’ve got to say that £17 is a lot to pay for a burger, but one bite and I was in a seafood lover’s paradise! The burger patty tastes like pure scallop and crab meat, with no filler, and is possibly one of the strongest and most delicious seafood-based things I’ve ever tasted.

And the big flavours continued as the patty was topped with a salad that’s pretty much all coriander. There was also a sprinkling of coriander on top of the brioche bun, finely-sliced coriander on the chunky chips, and flakes of coriander scattered across the plate, just for good measure. Pretty much every mouthful had coriander lurking in there somewhere, so don’t order this if you’re not a coriander fan!

The crab and scallop patty is served in a tasty brioche bun and comes with two sauces: a vegetable relish that was a bit on the bland side, and a fiery sriracha chilli that I just couldn’t get enough of. This is the kind of chilli sauce that you suspect might be doing your tastebuds some permanent damage.

This scallop and crab burger is all about those big, bold flavours: from the searing chilli sauce, to the seafood burger patty, to the great big handfuls of coriander that seem to be lurking in every bite. This is the kind of burger you’ll either love or hate. I love strong flavours, so this was right up my street, although it wouldn’t hurt Rhubarb and Mustard to cut back on the coriander.

Would I pay another visit to Rhubarb and Mustard? Yes but only for a special treat, as the prices are on the steep side. Rhubarb and Mustard is one of the more expensive eateries on Ecclesall Road, but the higher prices make sense considering their gastro pub-style menu.

If you’re a fan of venues such as the Milestone and the Wig and Pen, then you’ll definitely want to check out Rhubarb and Mustard.

rating-3-star

Brocco on the Park

May 2, 2016 at 5:31 am | Posted in Cafe, Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Brocco On the Park is a boutique hotel situated on Brocco Bank, overlooking Endcliffe Park. After scrutinising the Brocco website, I’ve got to admit I’m a bit gutted that I live too close to Brocco to justify treating myself to an overnight stay there, as the rooms look pretty special!

However Brocco’s dining room is open to the public, so even if you live locally you can still get a taste of the Brocco experience – and that’s exactly what me and a friend did one unexpectedly snowy Saturday afternoon, as we decided to pop to Brocco for a spot of luncheon.

First impressions were a bit dicey, as I walked into Brocco’s reception and immediately found myself in a queue behind someone who was clearly making a complaint. Not what you want to hear when you set foot in a restaurant for the first time! To be honest, I was beginning to wonder whether we should sneak off for a pub lunch around the corner, but it quickly became way too awkward for that, as a member of staff spotted us waiting and escorted us to a table.

Brocco’s dining room lives up to the boutique image on its website, right down to the antique-looking lanterns on the tables and the quirky chandelier in a bird cage that was hanging from the wall near our table. This is definitely one of the more stylish places I’ve eaten in on Ecclesall Road!

Brocco’s menu is on the smaller side, particularly when it comes to main meals. At least half of the menu is taken up by ‘small plates,’ which sound suspiciously like tapas, plus ‘picnic platters’ to share. This means there’s really only 8 main meals to choose from, plus two pizzas. Since nothing on the limited main menu caught my eye, I took a look at Brocco’s Specials board and was glad to see there was some fish and seafood on there, so I ended up ordering the daily special.

The waitress took our order and brought us a bottle of very nice house white. Then, there was nothing left to do but wait for our food to arrive. So we waited. And waited – despite Brocco not being particularly busy. Just as me and friend were shooting each other should-we-ask-where-our-food-is looks, our food arrived.

I’d gone for the haddock and leek pie, with cheddar mash and greens.

brocco fish pie

This is a massive portion of pie – the photo doesn’t even do it justice! This was of those meals that you never really seem to make a dent in, and it felt like forever before I hit the bottom of the bowl.

The cheesy mash was fluffy and tasted really strongly of cheese – exactly what you want when the weather outside is so grim! The pie was packed with lots of strong and tasty haddock, meaning this was one seriously fishy fish pie. The leeks were very finely sliced, which was perfect as there’s nothing worse than biting into your pie and hitting a big bit of squeaky, undercooked leek!

This is a great fish pie, and I’m a bit gutted it’s just a special and not a part of Brocco’s regular menu.

My dining companion had stuck to Brocco’s regular menu, and ordered the 8oz Ribeye steak (£22), which they’d requested medium-rare.

brocco on the park steak

This steak was perfectly cooked, and came with mushroom purée, tempura onion rings, triple-cooked chips and horseradish and chive butter, all of which went perfectly with the juicy, medium-rare steak.

Even though a boutique hotel may not immediately spring to mind when you’re looking for somewhere to eat in the Eccy Road vicinity, Brocco feels like the ideal place to celebrate a special occasion. The food is a bit on the expensive side, and I feel like you’re paying as much for the surroundings as you are for the quality of the food – so bear this in mind if you’re just popping out for a bite to eat rather than treating yourself to a special meal!

I enjoyed my fish pie and I’m in love with the venue, so I’ll definitely be keeping Brocco in mind for special occasions. I’ll also be checking out their outdoor seating area during the warmer months, as it looks like the perfect place to drink some wine and share one of Brocco’s picnic platters – if it ever stops snowing!

rating-3-star

KOKO

April 24, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Over the past year or so, there’s been a bit of a sushi explosion in Sheffield with no fewer than four new sushi restaurants opening across the city: KOKO, Let’s Sushi, Sakura House, and the Revolving Sushi and Noodle Bar.

Sadly, Sakura House on Eccy Road almost immediately relaunched as Yep Yep Hot Pot before closely down completely, so I never got the chance to find out whether it was any good. But last week I decided to branch out from Yama, Edo and Sakushi, and try one of Sheffield’s three new(ish) sushi restaurants.

KOKO is a compact but very smartly decorated restaurant on Ecclesall Road that has the sleek, modern feel of Sakushi – which is no surprise considering it’s owned by the same guy who launched Sakushi.

koko

I’ve got to admit that I decided to visit KOKO after spotting that they were offering a free shot of Japanese whisky to all diners on Twitter – everyone loves a freebie, right? However, after showing us to our table the first thing our waiter did was offer us a complimentary glass of prosecco. I leapt at the chance for a free glass of fizz, but my friend had their heart set on sampling some Japanese whisky so they asked whether they could have the shot of Nikka instead. At this point we were told this wasn’t an either-or offer, he was offering us free prosecco in addition to the complimentary whisky.

Apparently if you dine at KOKO before 6.30pm on any day of the week, then you get a free glass of prosecco, and if KOKO happen to be running another drinks-related freebie then you’re in luck, because you’re entitled to that too. The only catch is that on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday KOKO doesn’t open until 6pm, so if you’re dining on any of these days you’ll need to be quick off the mark in order to qualify for the free prosecco.  

After that nice surprise, it was time to take a look at the food menu. Compared to other Sheffield sushi restaurants like Yama and Sakushi, KOKO’s menu is pretty compact, but this is understandable considering KOKO is a much smaller venue. While KOKO do offer a few mixed sushi and sashimi platters, the focus is more on cooked mains such as noodles, Katsu curry and fish served in various Japanese sauces, rather than sushi and sashimi.

Since the menu is on the smaller side, it took me no time to decide that I wanted to order the Salmon Fillet in Black Pepper Sauce (£14.95), but just to complicate matters the person I was eating with wanted a starter. To avoid being left twiddling my thumbs while they enjoyed their first course, I decided to order a Miso Soup (£3.50) starter, which includes unlimited refills (score!)

However, when I gave the waiter my order he pointed out that all of KOKO’s ‘Bigger Dishes’ come with miso soup anyway. In fact, they come with miso soup, salad and a choice of rice or noodles. Since my friend was ordering a starter, the waiter kindly offered to bring me the miso soup from my main course at the same time. It’s thoughtful little touches like this that make for really happy customers!

A surprise glass of bubbly, helpful staff, and the promise of a complimentary shot of whisky at the end of the meal – I don’t think I’ve ever had a better first impression of a restaurant!

My miso soup was everything good miso soup should be: strong and salty, with lots of seaweed and big chunks of tasty tofu.

miso soup

I love that KOKO offer unlimited refills of their miso, because I could drink about a gallon of this stuff.

For their starter, my friend opted for KOKO Kimchi Rolls (£5.95).

Koko Kimchi Rolls

These rolls are a tasty blend of tangy kimchi and peppery pork, wrapped in a light and flaky pastry. These are perfect for snacking on before a main meal, and go really well with the accompanying sweet chilli dip.

Onto the mains, and my friend had gone for the special, which on this particular evening was steak and enokitake mushrooms with yakiniku sauce. Like all of KOKO’s main courses, the steak came with miso soup, salad, and a choice of rice or noodles, plus a tangy side of pickled cucumbers and carrots.

The whole thing is served on a tray, which makes for a pretty impressive-looking spread.

steak and enokitake mushrooms

The steak was juicy and tender, pretty much melting in the mouth, which contrasted nicely with the chewy enokitake mushrooms – plus, steak and mushrooms is just a winning combination, right?

The rest of the platter is packed with different flavours – from the saltiness of the miso, to the tartness of the crunchy pickled veggies, and the light and fresh salad. The only exception were the plain noodles, which were completely unseasoned, but it was actually nice to have a break from all the other strong flavours on this platter.

My main course came with the same smorgasbord of sides, although I opted for rice rather than noodles.

Salmon Fillet in Black Pepper Sauce

The rice was perfectly cooked, so it was nice and sticky rather than gloopy. Like the noodles, the rice might have been plain on its own, but it worked really well alongside all the other strong flavours on this platter.

But onto the main star of the show: the grilled, sushi-grade salmon. This salmon was tender, juicy and practically fell apart the second my chopsticks touched it, and it was generously coated in a delicious, tangy pepper sauce that had a hint of teriyaki sweetness to it. Basically, this salmon was perfect and I loved everything about it!

Food dispatched, it was time for our second free drink of the evening. And what’s better than a free drink? Not having to awkwardly remind the staff that you’d like your free drink now, please. As the waiter cleaned away our plates, he asked whether we wanted our shot of whisky yet – he didn’t need to ask twice!

The Nikka was a satisfying, warming whisky with caramel notes that made it really easy-drinking, even for someone like me who usually takes their spirits with a healthy dose of Pepsi Max.

I can’t fault KOKO when it comes to providing value for money. Even without the complimentary prosecco and whisky, the amount of sides that come with each main course means you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. The food was delicious, especially the salmon which is some of the nicest fish I’ve ever eaten, and the staff went out of their way to make sure we enjoyed our meal.

KOKO serves great food, at a great price, with genuinely thoughtful customer service to boot. My advice? Keep an eye on KOKO’s Twitter page for whisky-related special offers, get there before 6.30pm for your free glass of prosecco, and enjoy!

5-stars

The Harley

April 23, 2016 at 8:54 am | Posted in Pub Grub, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Burgers are no longer just something you grab from a takeaway on your way home after a night out. Over the past few years, everyone’s favourite fast food has become a lot more exciting, to the point where there’s a few Sheffield venues that specialise in burgers, such as Bungalows and Bears, Urban ¼ and, of course, the Harley.

I love a good burger, so when the Harley asked if I wanted to come and try their new burger menu, I jumped at the chance.

The format of this particular menu tasting was a bit different, as the staff brought out wave after wave of side orders for everyone sampling the new menu to share, plus lots of burgers cut into handy, bite-sized quarters. So don’t judge me for all the burgers and sides I’m talking about in this review, because I only had a taste of each of them! 

The first order of business was to try the Harley’s new Twisted sauces. This is a trio of vegan sauces made in collaboration with Sheffield clothing label Drop Dead.

sauces

Out of the three sauces on offer, my hands-down favourite was the Techno sauce which is a tangy burger sauce made with Henderson’s Relish. This sauce has a complex and unique flavour that’s difficult to put your finger on, but is all kinds of delicious. I’ve been hooked on the Harley’s Techno sauce ever since I got my first taste of it on the breakfast McMuffin they used to serve at the weekends (something that sadly seems to have disappeared from the menu, boo!)

The second sauce was Jalapeno Salsa, which is perfect for spicing up your fries and burgers if you have a soft spot for hot food. The Twisted Jalapeno Sauce also has a tangy note that makes it a little bit different (and in my opinion, much tastier) than your typical straight-up spicy salsa.

The final sauce was the Twisted BBQ sauce which has an interesting list of ingredients – tequila, chocolate and Henderson’s Relish, anyone? This is a tasty twist on your bogstandard BBQ sauce.

And if there’s a Twisted sauce that you just can’t get enough of, you can purchase all three sauces from Drop Dead’s website. Needless to say, I foresee a bottle of Techno sauce landing on my doorstep in the very near future!

The Harley provided two sets of chips for the purpose of putting these sauces to the test: the standard Harley house fries (£1.25 for a single portion, £2.25 for a sharing portion) and sweet potato fries (an additional £2). I’ve always loved the Harley’s fries as they have a nice, spicy kick to them, but this is the first time I’ve tried their sweet potato fries. Turns out they’re even better, so I’ll be definitely upgrading to sweet potato fries from now on!

fries and sauces.jpeg

Sauces sampled, it was time to move onto the burgers and sides. First up, was Return of the Mac (£6.95).

return of the mac

The Return of the Mac is a double bacon patty burger with mac and cheese, plus a helping of homemade pesto. The bacon patty is a bit of a weird concept, but it’s a weirdness that works, and the mac and cheese doesn’t skimp on the cheese, making this a winning burger.

If you do order the Return of the Mac, then try it with a splash of the Twisted BBQ sauce as it goes really well with this particular burger.

Next up was a side order of Highway to Falafel (£3.50).

highway to falafel

Out of everything I tried from the Harley’s new menu (and I tried a lot) these falafel balls were the one thing I wouldn’t order again. They’re a lot tougher and crunchier than any falafel I’ve tried before, which I wasn’t keen on. And as someone who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, I also wasn’t wild about the accompanying coconut and coriander dip, which was seriously sweet. I did swap this pot for another helping of Techno sauce (yep, I’m addicted) and that made these falafel balls much more to my taste, but I’m still not convinced.

Things quickly got back on track as I spied something seriously exciting coming out of the kitchen: Jalapeno Business Fries (£4.75).

jalapeno business fries

The Harley’s Business Fries are a massive portion of chips, smothered in cheese, guacamole, sour cream, house relish, diced jalapenos and lots of cajun seasoning, garnished with a whole grilled chilli. The Jalapeno Business Fries are my favourite thing to order from the Harley, so I was glad to see they’d survived the menu change. If you’re a spice fan, then you need to try these fries!  

If you’re not a massive chilli head but you still fancy stuffing yourself with a humongous portion of Harley fries smothered in lots of sauce, then you may want to opt for the Big Pimpin’ Fries (£5.50) instead.

Big pimpin’ fries

These Big Pimpin’ Fries are another super-sized portion of Harley fries, but this time topped with lots of juicy pulled pork, manchego sauce, Twisted BBQ sauce and guacamole.

Back to burgers, and next up was the Bury Me in Smoked Sausage (£7.95).

bury me in smoked sausage.jpg

This burger teams a double chicken patty with smoked sausage, creole mayo, monterey jack and red onion gherkins. The sausage had a lovely smoky flavour and the gherkins added a nice contrast in terms of taste and texture.

Sticking with chicken, the next side was Hang up the Chicken Habit (£3.50) aka confit chicken wings served with a blue cheese dip.

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These wings were crispy and surprisingly grease-free, with a good amount of meat on each wing. They were strongly seasoned with lots of salt and pepper, plus a generous helping of jalapenos which gave these wings a nice kick. The accompanying blue cheese dip went perfectly with these salty, peppery, spicy wings, but it also doubles up as a great dip for your chips if you fancy a change from all those strong Twisted sauces.

Next up was a truly gut-busting burger: the triple-cheese Cheesy Rider (£6.95).

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This veggie burger basically replaces the traditional meat patty with cheese, then adds more cheese on top, and finishes the whole thing off with an extra-large helping of cheese sauce. Specifically, you get a double halloumi patty, plus monterey jack, plus manchego cheese sauce – that’s a serious amount of cheese!

I love cheese, so I quickly devoured my quarter of the Cheesy Rider, but I’m not sure I could have managed the other three quarters. This is a seriously heavy burger!

As I’ve already mentioned, the Twisted sauces are all vegan friendly, so it’s no surprise that the Harley also have a vegan burger on their menu.

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The Twisted Barbecue Burger (£7.95) consists of a double “meat” patty, a vegan “cheese” slice, plus BBQ jackfruit and Twisted BBQ sauce.

I’m not a vegan and I haven’t really tried that many vegan alternatives, but I loved this burger! The “meat” patty had a really strong, savoury flavour, and not only was the vegan cheese a tasty substitute for the dairy equivalent, but it also had an authentic cheese texture. 

To put this vegan burger to the ultimate test, I convinced my meat-eating friend to take a bite, and they agreed that this is one of the best burgers on the Harley’s new menu. I’d actually have to take this one step further and say this is the best burger on the Harley’s new menu.

Regardless of whether you’re veggie, vegan or omnivore, the Twisted Barbecue Burger is definitely worth ordering.

Moving beyond the vegan burger, the Twisted sauces are all fantastic, the Jalapeno Business Fries are every bit as delicious as they’ve always been, and there’s a good selection of tasty meat-based burgers on the menu too – especially the Return of the Mac.

I’ll definitely be popping in for my fix of Twisted Barbecue Burger with Techno sauce, plus Jalapeno Business Fries for as long as they remain on the menu.

rating-3-star

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