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

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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

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