A Foodie Adventure

October 7, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 2 Comments
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Recently, we were lucky enough to get an invite to a ‘Foodie Adventure,’ which promised a tantalising evening of eating, drinking and trying our luck at Sheffield’s casinos and dog track. The night would start at Napoleon’s Owlerton where we’d get a roulette lesson, not to mention our first course, before the fun moved next door to the Owlerton Stadium dog track, where it was all about the main meal and a flutter on the dogs, before wrapping things up with a pudding at Napoleon’s Ecclesall Road. Even better, all of the money raised during the evening would go to the Sheffield Food Bank – what’s not to like?

I have to admit that before my Foodie Adventure, my entire experience of casinos and dog racing came down to a single trip to Owlerton Stadium, where I placed a few 50p bets and went home with a whopping £1 profit. My experience of eating in these sort of venues was even more limited (read: completely non-existent) so, I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I stepped off the tram and Google-Mapped my way to the first venue.

If you’ve never visited Napoleon’s Owlerton on Livesey Street before, the outside has a bit of hotel vibe, with lots of fountains, shiny stone surfaces and Chinese lanterns – but with a lot more neon lights than you’d expect from your average hotel!

First on the itinerary, was a quick drink in Napoleon’s bar. The bar area is compact but stylish, with super-shiny surfaces, lights and glittering booze bottles in every direction, not to mention a big sign proudly proclaiming that they serve booze until the eye-watering hour of 5am!

The cosy, glossy bar area really sets the tone for an evening at Napoleon’s, as when we made our way through to the restaurant area, we were met with yet more shiny wood and clever lighting, which creates the feeling of an intimate restaurant. Napoleon’s are clearly making the effort to create a dining experience that contradicts any preconceived notions about the kind of food a casino might serve. The menu too, works hard to impress and is bursting with lots of upmarket-sounding ingredients: mojito syrup, ruby port, and thyme jus, to name a few.

Not wanting to spoil my appetite so early in the evening, I played it conservative and ordered the mozzarella, tomato and rocket salad, which came with a flourish of basil, capers and balsamic vinegar.

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Napoleon’s tomato salad has nothing in common with the boring iceberg-lettuce-and-grated-carrot side salads you sometimes get when eating out, and it actually turned out to be my highlight of the entire night, food-wise! The tomato was fresh and full of flavour, while the cheese was surprisingly light. The amount of basil, oil and capers on the plate was carefully balanced to complement the tomato and mozzarella, rather than overpowering them. Who said salads had to be boring? If I ever find myself back at Napoleon’s, I’ll definitely order this again!

At the other end of the table, it was all about the Thai spiced fish goujons and sweet chilli dip.

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The batter was light and completely free of grease, just what you want to kick off a three course meal, and the chilli dip was a nicely tangy accompaniment!

After finishing our starters, there was just enough time for a quick roulette lesson, before heading next door to Owlerton Stadium, Penistone Road. I’ve visited the stadium before, but only made it as far as the bar and betting window, so it was interesting to see more of the stadium.

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After being teased with the fantastic views available to those in the Executive Boxes, it seemed inevitable that our table in the Panorama Restaurant would be a rude return to Earth. Surprisingly, it wasn’t – the restaurant was heaving and had the sort of atmosphere that hits you the second you walk in, and even though it wasn’t the top-dollar Executive Box, the Panorama Restaurant still had impressive views over the entire track.

The stadium runs a bargain £17 deal that includes admission fee, a table at the Panorama Restaurant, a three course meal, and your own tote runner who places all of your bets for you (and delivers your winnings, if you strike it lucky!) Although we only spent our main course at the dog track, it was clear that a full evening here would be a lot of fun.

But what about the food? I ordered a filling pancake cannelloni of roasted aubergine, courgette and asparagus, topped with a thick two cheese sauce. Beneath that cheesy exterior, were big chunks of veg and lots of pasta, not to mention lashings of that extra-cheesy sauce. A very stodgy and satisfying main, perfect for the winter months.

My dining companion’s meal of chargrilled sirloin steak with bourguignon garnish, ruby port and thyme jus was just as tasty.

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The generous lump of meat was served on a bed of chunky, buttery veggies and nicely-salted bacon bits. The meat was charred on the outside, but melt-in-the-mouth and perfectly cooked on the inside. In fact, the meat was so pink and juicy, it deserves its very own photo:

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The main meals were served with a platter of vegetables and side orders, which included crispy roast potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower smothered in cheese sauce, and cabbage cooked in lashings of butter and mixed up with more bacon bits – a tummy-warming, calorie-packed treat.

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But, our Foodie Adventure was drawing to a close, and the only thing left to do was pop over to Napoleon’s Ecclesall Road for pud. Although most of the puddings on offer are of the sweet variety, you can also get that old savoury favourite: the cheese board. The cheese board in question is made up of mature cheddar, stilton and brie served alongside crackers, chutney, celery and grapes.

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It’s a sensible size for one person to enjoy, or an after-dinner snack to share between two.

So, what did I learn from my first real foray into the world of betting and feasting at Sheffield’s casinos and dog track? Firstly, a meal and a tote runner at Owlerton is a fun, different night out, (even if you’re not particularly into betting, like me) and secondly, the food is completely different to how I’d imagined.

All three venues are working hard to counteract those pesky misconceptions about the kind of food you can get at casinos and the races – and it pays off. Far from being convenience food you grab and munch inbetween the fun, the food at all three venues is worth sitting down and taking your time over. If you’re planning a trip to either venue, why not make an evening of it and eat there, too? Just make sure you try the tomato and mozzarella salad while you’re there!

rating-3-star

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2 Comments »

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  1. Sounds like fun!

  2. […] 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 […]


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