Cross Scythes

October 14, 2012 at 11:47 am | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Approaching the Cross Scythes on Baslow Road in Totley, it’s impossible to miss the ‘Sheffield’s Number 1 Gastro Pub’ banner proudly wrapped around the building. A heady accolade, and a little digging reveals this establishment was not only a finalist for Favourite Pub in the 2011 Eat Sheffield awards, but in the 2010 awards too. So, how’s it faring in 2012?

From the outside, the Cross Scythes ticks all the boxes: it’s a pretty, olde-worlde stone building with outdoor seating around the front and the back, and meticulously pruned greenery adding to the quaint, country pub vibe. Inside, the Cross Scythes has plenty of rural charm, but with a refreshing modern twist – think lots of dark wood, amber lighting and black-and-white prints of the local area back in the good ol’ days, but with a swanky cocktail menu and staff immaculately turned out in white shirts and black ties bringing the place bang up to date. It’s not a million miles removed from the ‘rustic wine bar’ atmosphere of the Wig and Pen.

As we were visiting on a weekday afternoon, we had no problems finding a seat. In fact, a quick head count revealed that the total number of occupants didn’t even stretch into double figures (and that’s including the staff!) If you like a bit of atmosphere with your meal, you’re better off visiting during peak times – from the looks of it, the Cross Scythes doesn’t do much trade during the day.

Undeterred, we got stuck into the drinks menu. Unsurprisingly, booze is pricey at the Cross Scythes – the price of spirits and wines in particular is eye-watering. By comparison, the cocktails are roughly the price you’d pay in town, so we opted for a couple of Long Island Iced Teas (£5.90) Our drinks came nicely presented in tall glasses with a fruit garnish and, despite the reasonable prices, they packed quite a punch. The Cross Scythes aren’t stingy with their measures, even when you’re ordering something that contains half the bar, like a Long Island Iced Tea. Definitely a cocktail worth checking out, if you fancy something potent with your meal.

Starving, we ordered a side of bread, olive oil and vinegar (£1.80) and requested it to be sent out as a starter rather than a side order. Our waiter was only too happy to oblige, and within a few minutes a big platter of bread arrived at our table. For £1.80, the Cross Scythes spoilt us with three different types of homemade bread: a light, fluffy sliced bread, a weighty brown roll, and a few slices of toasted bread, which arrived at our table still warm. As someone with a taste for sharp flavours, I was disappointed that the oil and vinegar arrived as an already-mixed portion in a little pot on the side. However, a few minutes later our waiter returned with the oil and vinegar bottles, and told us to help ourselves. Perfect! At £1.80 this is an absolute steal, and an impossible-to-fault side order/makeshift-starter.

We were still working our way through the delicious homemade bread when the mains arrived. For me, it was the Tomato Risotto with pine nuts, rocket, parmesan and a drizzle of tangy balsamic vinegar (£8.75) with added smoked salmon (an extra £2)

When it comes to presentation, the Cross Scythes is absolutely faultless.

More familiar with stodgy cream-and-mushroom risottos, I was pleasantly surprised by how light and refreshing this risotto was. The tomato gave the rice a fruity, fresh flavour I wasn’t expecting from a risotto, not to mention a beautiful colour. Topped off with a splash of green rocket, this dish is a real treat for the eyes.

The pine nuts gave the risotto a nice crunch, but the real star of the show was the smoked salmon. For an extra two quid, the Cross Scythes had flaked a good quantity of delicious smoked salmon into my rice, and a forkful of this salmon, mixed up with refreshing tomato and crunchy pine nuts, was absolutely delicious. Despite being full, I couldn’t stop myself cleaning my plate – and then taking some of the bread from the platter and mopping up the dregs of the risotto sauce, just to make sure my plate was doubly clean. A surprisingly light rice dish that tastes every bit as good as it looks. Highly recommended.

Also arriving at our table was a truly gourmet cheese burger (£9.75) served with Sheffield’s own Henderson’s Relish, real dripping chips, and chunky tomato chutney, on yet more homemade bread (those Cross Scythes bakers have been busy!)

Although dubious about paying just short of a tenner for a burger, when it arrived the price tag made perfect sense. The burger was a thick patty of melt-in-the-mouth meat that had a consistency more like steak than a processed burger, and was pink and juicy in the middle, topped with homemade-looking chutney. A slice of strong cheese and a slosh of Henderson’s Relish, not to mention some fresh salad and the homemade bread cob, made for a truly five star take on a fast food favourite.

The side of chips was almost a meal in itself. As they’re cooked in dripping, they were saltier and greasier than your average chip, but then, you don’t order dripping chips if you’re trying to be healthy!

The Cross Scythes is one of the pricier local eateries, especially if you like a tipple with your grub, but this becomes a moot point when you take into account the swanky, gastro pub atmosphere, the quality of the food, attentiveness of the staff and, of course, the escape-from-the-hustle-and-bustle location. A trip to the Cross Scythes feels like a real treat.

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