March 31, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Posted in Pub Grub | 2 Comments
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Sheffield burger lovers are spoilt for choice at the moment, with no shortage of places serving up big, American-style burgers (the Harley, and Bungalows and Bears spring immediately to mind). But where should you go if you’ve got a hankering for a more gourmet take on this fast food staple?

A few people had recommended I try Henry’s, on the corner of Cambridge Street, but to be honest it’s never really struck me as a great spot for a relaxing bite to eat. This probably has something to do with the fact that I usually wander past Henry’s on Friday and Saturday nights, when it’s always rammed with people. But, it’s unfair to judge a city center eatery based on what it’s like on Friday and Saturday nights – just look at the Wick at Both Ends, which is standing room only during these peak times, but also happens to be one of the best lunch spots in Sheffield. With that in mind, it only seemed fair to reserve judgment and visit Henry’s for a midweek lunch.

Henry’s has a fondness for wall-to-ceiling windows, which means the venue feels very light and airy. There’s also no shortage of places to sit, so no matter how busy this place gets during the daytime, I can’t imagine struggling to find a table. Some of the seating is a bit random, with a couple of uncomfortable-looking wooden pews and back-less stools, and some of the tables are positioned a little too close to the bar, or tucked away in strange nooks and crannies, but there’s so much seating to choose from, that this isn’t a major issue.

Henry’s menu is larger than what you’d normally expect from a pub. In addition to burgers, you can choose from a range of gourmet sandwiches, paninis, and salads, plus pub classics such as pie, sausages, fish and chips, and ham and eggs. If you’re visiting Henry’s with young ones, they have their own special menu (Little Henry’s), and if you’re visiting on a Sunday, you can enjoy a roast of beef, pork, lamb, gammon, or turkey. You can’t fault Henry’s when it comes to choice! But by far the best thing about Henry’s, is that all of their meat is sourced from local farms within a 26 mile radius of the pub itself.

Despite offering so much choice and focusing on local produce, the food is very reasonably priced. Even if you opt for a meat heavy dish such as a Sunday roast, you’ll only pay one or two pounds more than you would in your typical chain restaurant serving up meat from God-knows-where. I call that good value for money!

The size of Henry’s menu meant that even though I was dining with my mother (early Mother’s day treat, and all that), who is one of the pickiest eaters I’ve ever met, there was several things on the menu that she fancied trying – I honestly can’t remember the last time this happened!

After weighing up whether to go for the Portobello burger (£6.45), or the Portobello & Cheese burger (£7.45), I gave in to greed and opted for the version that came with the goat’s cheese, while my mother settled on the Big Cheese burger (£6.95).

We placed our orders at the bar, where we also treated ourselves to a couple of glasses of wine. Henry’s food prices may not be far removed from what you’d expect to pay in a chain pub, but the wine is slightly more expensive. Expect to pay upwards of a fiver for a glass of wine, and over £15 for a bottle. These are restaurant prices, rather than pub prices, and although my £5.45 bought me a very nice glass of Pinot Grigio, you might want to stick to soft drinks if you’re counting the pennies.

Our food order was taken by a very friendly member of staff, who promised that if we polished off our burgers, we wouldn’t be hungry until 7 o’clock that evening. He then asked us if we wanted to add an extra portion of onion rings to our order – because then we wouldn’t be hungry until 7 o’clock tomorrow evening! It’s always nice when the bar staff take the time to have some banter with the customers.

With glasses of wine in hand, we returned to our table to await our burgers. Despite it being 2 o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon, and despite there being only a couple of occupied tables, we waited a long time for our food to arrive. We didn’t have anywhere to rush off to (luckily), but it was still irritating to have to wait so long for food, in a pub that’s so quiet.

Eventually, our burgers did arrive. Serving burgers on big, heavy slates seems to be the done thing at the moment, and Henry’s is yet another Sheffield eatery that subscribes to this trend. Both of our burgers arrived deconstructed, with shredded gherkins on one half of the sourdough bun, and the rest of the fillings on the other half. In retrospect, this was probably a precaution to make sure our burgers didn’t fall over on their way to the table – because once we’d put our burgers together, they were pretty big!


Both burgers came with a grand total of four chips. Normally this would be crazy behaviour, but Henry’s chips are so chunky, you don’t feel hard done by at all – it’s like someone had quartered a jacket potato! The skins could have been crisper, but the chips were still nice and fluffy on the inside, and had been seasoned with lots of black pepper, so they had a spiciness to them.

Two super-sized, beer-battered onion rings also accompanied each burger. Henry’s boozy batter was light and not too greasy, and the onion inside hadn’t been overcooked, so it still had some of that raw onion sting.

When the barman warned us about the size of the burgers, he wasn’t kidding. Once I’d reconstructed my deconstructed burger, I was a bit flummoxed about how best to tackle this stack of whole grilled field mushroom, roasted peppers, red onion, courgette and goat’s cheese. It was definitely a beast!

The veggies had that distinctive roasted flavour, particularly the pepper, which was nicely balanced against the freshness of the raw tomato, and the sharpness of the shredded gherkins. A great combination of flavours.

Henry’s mushroom and goat’s cheese burger isn’t your typical fast food. Alternating between bites of the burger’s layered veggies and cheese, thickset chips and monster onion rings, took me quite a while. My only issue with the burger, was that the veggies were slippery from being roasted, and kept sliding away from me whenever I tried to take a bite! But, looking a bit silly is a small price to pay for such a great burger.

This is the perfect burger to savour over a long, lazy lunch, and I can even imagine filling up on it at dinner time, too – it’s definitely big enough!

Henry’s up-market take on the cheeseburger came with the same stonking great chips and onion rings, alongside relish and shredded gherkins, but instead of veggies, the sourdough bread was packed with beef and melted cheddar. The beef was a quality slab of locally-sourced meat, although there was surprisingly little cheese, especially for something that’s called a Big Cheese burger. Still, this is another beast of a burger that’ll satisfy even the most serious of hunger pangs.

Henry's beef burger

If you’re after gasto-pub grub in the city center, I can heartily recommend Henry’s. The city center venue serves up greedy-guts portions of posh pub grub, and their commitment to sourcing their meat locally is admirable.

The negatives? We were waiting far too long for our food, especially considering the place was so quiet, which would make me hesitant to visit Henry’s during my lunch break. The drinks are also expensive compared to other city center venues. But, really, neither of these are deal breakers, and when it comes to Henry’s, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

I’ll definitely be visiting Henry’s again, and can’t wait to try a few other things on their massive menu!



The Wick at Both Ends: Spring/Summer Menu Launch

March 29, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 2 Comments
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When I’m umm-ing and arr-ing over a place to eat, the Wick at Both Ends on West Street always crops up sooner or later. It’s one of those places that always ticks all the right boxes: good atmosphere, lots of comfy booths, nice decor, a large cocktail menu, pleasant staff, and a food menu that has something for everyone. Basically, I love everything about the Wick; so when an invite to the launch of their new Spring/Summer menu arrived in my inbox, I was pretty excited.

Wick fans will be happy to hear that the always-awesome Wick burgers are still present and accounted for on the new menu, and the starters look as interesting as ever, with pork cheek faggots, vegan cheddar, and red pepper sabayon all making an appearance. Since summer is just around the corner (hopefully), salad and fish features more heavily than on previous menus, but the Wick hasn’t completely done away with the comfort food, so on chilly days you can still warm up with mash, roast lamb, gravy, and belly pork.

But, every good meal starts with a drink. We kicked things off with a refreshing Double Grape Martini (£5.75), a summery blend of white wine, vodka and vanilla. This is the ideal light drink to accompany a heavy meal, and it went down very easily. Also arriving at our table, was a Corpse Reviver #2 (£7.00). On the menu, this blend of Portabello Gin, Cointreau, Noilly Prat, and Absinthe is described as “guaranteed to bring you back to life.” The Wick aren’t kidding! This is a firecracker of a cocktail, in a deceptively dainty glass.

Wick at Both Ends cocktails

When you’ve visited a place multiple times, you can fall into the routine of ordering the same thing time and time again (for me, it’s the Wick’s delicious mushroom burger), so I resolved to break out of my rut, and opted for a salad of glazed beetroot with goat’s cheese and pine nuts, in a balsamic vinaigrette (£7.25). This is a “proper” salad, where dressed leaves make up the majority of the dish.

Wick at Both Ends salad

I love goat’s cheese, and the Wick’s is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. This goat’s cheese is like bombs of pure, melt-in-the-mouth indulgence, wrapped in a lightly-toasted exterior. Biting through the rubbery, toasted cheese, into its oozing center, is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Amazing.

The rest of this dish is a salad of mixed leaves, doused in a vinaigrette that gives the salad a tangy edge, and finished off with chunks of beetroot and a teeny sprinkle of toasted pine nuts. The whole thing sits on a bed of beetroot that’s so thinly-sliced, it has a semi-transparent pattern of alternating pink and white bands. The beetroot also has a woody taste and texture, which was unexpected. I love it when places take an everyday vegetable and make it taste like something new.

The goat’s cheese and beetroot salad is a very light dish, with some quirky touches, although I’d have preferred larger portions of the cheese and pine nuts, as these are the ingredients that stand the best chance of filling you up. Overall though, this is a great, summery salad – just don’t order it if you’re ravenous!

At the other end of the table, it was like winter all over again, with a plate full of roast belly pork and bubble and squeak, served with roasted apple, chutney and cider sauce (£8.50). The Wick clearly set out to wow with this dish. Mission accomplished – it looks fantastic!

Wick at Both Ends pork belly

The generous portion of meat was tender and juicy, and the cider sauce was a welcome change from the usual gravy or jus.

The promised bubble and squeak turned out to be a portion of mashed potatoes with some boiled cabbage mixed in, rather than the mash and fried veggies I’d always understood bubble and squeak to be. Despite this, the Wick’s take on bubble and squeak was still pure comfort food.

The real star of this dish, is the roasted apple. Whenever I’ve roasted apples, it’s always gone wrong, with hard, uncooked centers or mushy exteriors. Clearly, I need to take lessons from the Wick, because this apple was cooked to perfection and had a lovely flavour.

If you’re in the mood for classy comfort food, it doesn’t get any better than the Wick’s pork, cider sauce, mash and roasted apple. The words “best meal I’ve ever had” were even uttered!

Due to my light main course, I was still peckish, and so couldn’t resist checking out the dessert menu. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so when I spotted the cheese board, I knew this was the “pudding” for me. The Wick at Both Ends puts a nice spin on their cheese board, by letting you construct your own board from a selection of cheeses (a trio of cheeses will cost you £5.95). I opted for the Y-Fenni Mustard & Ale, Godminster Brie, and the How’s ‘yer Father Lancashire.

My cheese board was served with that funky, rustic flair that the Wick do so well, arriving on a heavy slate, alongside a bowl of chutney, celery sticks, and a hexagonal arrangement of oatmeal crackers.

Wick at Both Ends cheese board

The chutney was particularly good. It was homemade, and struck that perfect balance between fruity sweetness, and sour notes. Cheese, chutney, crackers and celery is always a winning combination, and it’s clear that the Wick use top quality ingredients.

We also ordered a sweet pudding, in the form of a caramel cheesecake, which came with homemade pear sorbet and caramel sauce (£4.75).

Wick at Both Ends cheesecake

The cheesecake was indulgent, and had the kind of creaminess that makes you savour every bite. This rich cheesecake was perfectly complemented by the fresh, icy sorbet.

It’s difficult to pick fault with the Wick at Both Ends. While the portion of cheese and pine nuts on my salad was on the small side, and I wouldn’t have said no to bigger wedges of cheese on my cheeseboard, the quality of the ingredients, and the obvious care that’s put into preparing each dish, means that the portions are reasonable for what you pay.

I’ve eaten at the Wick a couple of times, through multiple menu changes, and have tucked into everything from tapas, to Sunday roasts, pies, and burgers – and I’ve never once had a bad meal.

The Wick really do serve some of the best grub in Sheffield, and I can’t wait to return and sample more of their new menu.


Bungalows and Bears

November 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 2 Comments
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I’ve frequented Bungalows and Bears on Division Street for drinks a number of times, and have always enjoyed the atmosphere. It’s an aircraft-hanger of a venue, but some clear effort has been put into creating that cosy, intimate feel. The tables are arranged so there’s plenty of private little nooks if you’re looking for a quiet meal out, not to mention big, comfy three-seaters for when you really want to relax. This, combined with Bungalows and Bears’ penchant for keeping the house lights turned down, creates a far more relaxing, laidback atmosphere than you’d expect from such a large, city centre venue (although, it goes without saying that this doesn’t apply on Friday and Saturday nights!)

The atmosphere and decor have always been a big hit, but I’ve never actually eaten at Bungalows and Bears. So, when I spotted that they’d had launched a 2-for-1 deal on gourmet burgers every Tuesday evening, it was all the motivation I needed: it was straight from the office to 50 Division Street, with double-cooked chips and burgers in mind.

Bungalows and Bears’ burger menu puts other pedallers of gourmet burgers to shame. It’s split into three sections – beef, chicken and vegetarian. While the chicken section is restricted to just two burgers, beef-lovers can top their meat with everything from chorizo and grilled halloumi, to smoked bacon, goat’s cheese, and avocado. With three (!) equally impressive veggie options on offer, I had a tough call to make. After much soul searching, I decided to save the Shroomaloomi burger (flat mushrooms and grilled halloumi) for another day, and went all out on the Hippy Deluxe (£8.55) which came topped with field mushrooms and emmental. At the other end of the table, it was a similiar no-holds-barred burger-fest of beef topped with avocado, blue cheese and bacon.

At nearly £9 per burger, Bungalows and Bears isn’t cheap, especially if you like a tipple with your food. However, building on our 2-for-1 savviness, we ordered a bottle of reasonably-priced Chardonnay (£9.95) that lasted the entire meal. The wine arrived extravagantly presented, in an enormous bucket packed with ice, alongside our cutlery and a wire wrack containing an impressive array of sauces. I’m a bit of a chilli head, so I was excited to spy three hot sauces mixed in with the usual mayo, mustard and ketchup: standard Tobasco, a green jalapeno sauce and a chipotle version.

So far, so good, but when our just-shy-of-nine-quid burgers rolled up, my confidence was shaken. They were served in plastic baskets and, even at a glance, I could tell both burgers were super-greasy. Confidence was restored when I took my first bite – sure, the burger didn’t look as appetizing as I’d expected, and okay, it was one of the messiest, greasiest burgers I’ve eaten recently, but it tasted fantastic.

The patty itself was a satisfying mix of nicely-cooked lentils and tasty mushrooms, topped with tangy cheese. Experimenting with some of the hot sauces sealed the deal. If you order a veggie burger at Bungalows and Bears, be sure to slather it in Tabasco!

The burger came with a very generous portion of double-cooked chips, a few of which had scraps of crispy skin still on. Personally, I prefer my chips a bit chunkier, but they were delicious nonetheless.

At the other end of the table, the beef burger was similarly messy (this certainly isn’t first date food!) but again it delivered where it matters: the taste. Despite being a little dubious to begin with, it turns out that a thick wedge of melt-in-the-mouth avocado, salty bacon and super-strong cheese is a match made in heaven.

Again, the burger came with a mountain of double-cooked chips. Combined with the thick meat patty, filling avocado and lashings of blue cheese, this belly-buster was impossible to finish. Defeated and stuffed, we both left half of our chips.

Despite a few niggles, Bungalows and Bears’ burgers are delicious, and there’s enough variation to make return trips a necessity. However, considering the price of one burger (most clock in at around £8) I will definitely be returning – but only on 2-for-1 Tuesdays. This too-good-to-be-true offer turns a rather pricey burger into an absolute steal.

So, visit on a Tuesday, save a few quid on the burgers, splash out on a bottle of Bungalows and Bears’ wine instead, and make an evening of it – because this is the sort of venue where you’ll want to take your time.

Wick At Both Ends: Sunday Lunch

October 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 2 Comments
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There are few things in life as comforting as a Sunday lunch, and The Wick at Both Ends on West Street really big theirs up, with the claim that they do a Sunday roast “as good as your Nan’s.”

For those not already in the know, The Wick at Both Ends is a quirky West Street venue kitted out with mismatched armchairs and some of the comfiest corner booths you’re likely to find in a pub. The bar is decked out with fairy lights the whole year round, there’s plenty of arty graffiti on the walls, and table decorations fashioned out of peacock feathers, flowers and old liquor bottles. There’s also a stash of oldschool board games, if you fancy whiling away an afternoon playing Bizzy Bizzy Bumble Bees or Connect Four. This cosy West Street venue clearly has bags of character, but are the food and drink up to scratch?

The Wick’s menu is a three-headed beast of main courses, tapas and Sunday roasts. The main meals and tapas in particular offer a quirky take on standard pub fare; tapas-lovers can enjoy a Carpaccio of Smoked Venison, soup served in teacups or Bloody Mary Stuffed Mushrooms, while the main courses include a fresh take on that old classic Ham, Egg and Chips. However, we visited on a Sunday, so it only seemed fitting to give their roasts a whirl.

At £7.95 for the meat option and £6.95 for the vegetarian alternative, the Wick are pitching at the upper end of what you’d be willing to pay for Sunday lunch, but with a menu that boasts “real” Yorkshire puddings, lashings of gravy and locally sourced meat, it promises to deliver. Carnivores get a choice of meats, whereas veggies have just one option for their Sunday roast. This is pretty standard, but is worth bearing in mind if your party includes a fussy non-meat eater.

In addition to its offerings of tapas, roasts and main courses, the Wick at Both Ends has an exhaustive cocktail menu. Even cocktail experts should be able to find something new and exciting on the menu (a tipple made from thyme, apricot liqueur, gin, lemon juice and egg white, anyone?)

Cocktails may not be the traditional Sunday dinner aperitifs, but I couldn’t resist and ordered myself a Tow The Lime (£6.00)

This refreshing cocktail puts a fresh slant on the Moscow mule by adding homemade lime liqueur and freshly-squeezed kiwi juice. A Dark and Stormy (£5.00) was also on the cards, which was topped off with plenty of fiery ginger beer. Just what the doctor ordered on a gloomy Sunday afternoon!

The Wick at Both Ends has an enviable cocktail menu, and many of the cocktails utilize a long list of fresh fruits and herbs. If you’re a cocktail fan, you’ll be happy to spend whole afternoons and evenings working your way through the Wick’s menu. However, it is worth noting that many of the cocktails – especially the fruity ones – aren’t particularly strong. If you’re used to getting headspin from a single cocktail, then you’re better off sticking to the less extravagant options, such as the Dark and Stormy.

Halfway through our cocktails, the Sunday dinners arrived at the table. Initial impressions were mixed, for the price we’d been hoping for a belly-busting mountain of food. Both meals came with carrots and spinach, a couple of roasties, a homemade Yorkshire pud and gravy, but we agreed that the plate was missing another Yorkshire pudding, or even a few more roasties. Still, you can’t knock the Wick’s Sunday dinner for taste: the carrots in particular were delicious, tasting as though they’d been cooked in butter (you need a little fat in your Sunday lunch when it’s cold outside!) then rubbed with cracked black pepper and sea salt. Possibly the most unhealthy veggies in the world, but they were gobbled up in no time.

Now, it’s clear from the photo that the Yorkshire pudding didn’t look particularly appetizing. I was expecting a puffed-up, lumpy homemade Yorkie, but what I got was a deflated curl of batter with a suspiciously dark crust. But, never judge a Yorkshire pud by its sad, deflated cover, because the Wick’s Yorkies are delicious. A little on the burnt side, and not the prettiest of puddings, but when soaked in a little gravy the batter melted in the mouth and had that satisfying, homemade taste.

But onto the real star of my Sunday dinner – the veggie wellington. I’m not a massive pastry fan, but the Wick’s pastry was light and crispy, and soaked up oodles of flavour from the gravy. The filling was a stodgy, gut-busting blend of cheese, spinach and mushrooms. It looked a little grey and unappetizing, but the filling was actually chock full of flavour and settled in my stomach, a warm wodge of calorie-laden comfort food. I usually avoid pastry dishes, but I scraped up every last bit of gravy-sodden veggie wellington. Even if you’re a carnivore, I can heartily recommend the Wick’s vegetarian wellington.

If you’re craving some animal protein you’re in for a treat too, as the meat-eaters’ Sunday roast comes with the same buttery carrots, spinach, crispy roasties and homemade Yorkshire pudding plus, of course, hearty slices of meat (in this instance beef.) The roast beef had been cut in thick, generous slabs, and arrived at the table tender and tasty. Although a little pinker than some diners would like, there were no complaints from our table.

The Wick is a fun, distinctive venue with friendly staff and plenty of atmosphere. There’s always a few people in the cosy corner booths even on weekday afternoons, and it’s easy to see why. The cocktail menu is one of the most diverse in the city and, with three different menus to choose from, it’s not just on the cocktail-front where you’re spoilt for choice. The Sunday roasts are a little pricey, but that’s understandable when you take into account the clear quality of the grub. Hearty, tasty, and satisfying comfort food – perfect for the long winter months.

A Sunday roast where even the carrots and spinach are delicious, who’d have thought it possible?

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.

Porter Brook

September 29, 2012 at 8:26 am | Posted in Pub Grub | Leave a comment
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It seems the great British summertime has been and gone without anyone noticing it had arrived in the first place, and we’re already in the depths of winter if the constant rain, plummeting temperatures and dark mornings are anything to go by. But cheer up – now you’ve got an excuse to spend all afternoon holed up in a nice, cosy pub, whiling away the hours with a bottle of wine, stodgy comfort food and some creamy after-dinner tipples (ahhh, Baileys, how I’ve missed you!)

In search of the aforementioned comfort food and calorie-packed booze, we found ourselves in the Porter Brook at the top of Ecclesall Road earlier this week.

The Porter Brook’s exterior has an olde-worlde charm, and the interior has that cosy ‘local boozer’ feel you’ll be craving for the next few months. The atmosphere isn’t a million miles removed from the Nursery Tav at the other end of Ecclesall Road, although the Porter Brook does seem to attract less of a student crowd. Despite the lack of freshers, the Porter Brook was doing a brisk trade when we visited, so much so that even on a wet Wednesday afternoon we had to poke around a bit before we found an empty table.

Once seated, we launched into the drinks menu. Bargain hunters beware, the Porter Brook may share the Nursery Tavern’s welcoming atmosphere, but the drinks are noticeably more expensive. After a quick bit of maths, we realised there wasn’t much difference between a round of beers and spirits, and a bottle of wine, which seemed like a good excuse to order a full bottle (£8.95) and make an afternoon of it.

The Porter Brook’s menu covers all the usual pub staples; there’s burgers, jacket potatoes, fish and chips, and all day breakfasts, all at a reasonable price. However, something more unusual caught my eye – a vegetable tagine served with couscous, at a penny-pinching £3.99. I decided to take a gamble and ordered the Porter Brook’s tagine. Convinced that no £3.99 meal could fill me, I added a side order of sweet potato fries (£1.89.)

I needn’t have bothered with the side order. The vegetable tagine arrived promptly (in under ten minutes) and, it turns out that at the Porter Brook a £3.99 meal can fill you up.

The tagine sauce had a rich, satisfying heat that warmed the pit of my stomach without burning my tongue, making it suitable even for non-heatseekers. Although there was more sauce than veggies, there was a good range of vegetables – onion, sweet potato, chickpeas and courgettes. Soaked in the warming tagine sauce, the chickpeas in particular were delicious.

There were also chickpeas in the couscous, which made my bargain meal even more filling. Couscous is a very easy thing to overcook, but the Porter Brook got it just right and cooked my portion through, without turning it into slop. There were a few lumps of couscous that could have been broken up with a fork before being brought to the table, but when you’re getting a big plate of comfort food for £3.99, having to fluff your own couscous is no big deal. The vegetable tagine left me warm, stuffed and satisfied. The perfect winter warmer, and I can’t wait to have it again!

Although I was full from my main meal, it would have been a shame to waste my side order and so I soldiered valiantly on. At £1.89 the Porter Brook once again get top marks when it comes to providing value for money.

Warm, soft and sweet on the inside, these fries are the perfect addition to a winter warmer feast. They disappeared in no time.

Also arriving at our table was some more traditional pub grub: a Mexican burger topped with pepper cheese sauce and jalapenos. Served with coleslaw, fat chips and two dips for 6.99, the Porter Brook again proved themselves a generous establishment.

The burger was nice and juicy, and the combination of pepper cheese sauce and jalapenos ensured this meal delivered the same satisfying warmth as my tagine. Our reviewer raved about the chunky coleslaw, but the jalapeno dip had a vinegary aftertaste, like it had been made from pickled jalapenos. The runny consistency and murky green colour is also enough to put fussy eaters off. After dunking a few chips into the sauce to try and decipher what the sour aftertaste could be, we gave up and the dip went unfinished.

The Porter Brook is a cosy venue with a welcoming ‘local boozer’ feel that’s often missing from the bustling Eccy Road. It clearly draws quite a crowd and it’s easy to see why, the food is value for money and good quality pub grub (just what you need, in this grim weather.) The drinks are on the pricey side, so it’s worth scouring the menu for deals or sharing a bottle of wine between a table. Sinking a couple of vodkas or pints with your meal will seriously push up the bill – you have been warned!

Highly recommended if you’re after a plateful of good old fashioned comfort food to combat the chill.

The Harley

June 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Pub Grub | 1 Comment
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Sometimes, nothing quite hits the spot like a Beer and a Burger, but the aforementioned Beer and a Burger deals aren’t always such a bargain if you’re not a fan of, well, beer. This leads us neatly onto The Harley, which serves up ‘High Tea, Harley Style’ – a pocket-friendly deal of a burger and your choice of drink for £5.50. What makes this really special is that, in addition to the usual beer, house spirit and soft drink options, cider fans can opt for a pint of Gaymers. A pint of Gaymers is typically priced between £3 and £4, so at £5.50 for a beer plus bevvie, we weren’t going to miss this one, especially since I’m not much of a beer drinker (and Vodka-And-Diet-Coke and a Burger, doesn’t feel quite right….)

With burgers and bevvies on the brain, we headed to The Harley. Located on Glossop Road, this student-friendly place is well known as a music venue, but this weekday evening the stage was covered up and a handful of tables were dotted around the dancefloor. First impressions weren’t fantastic – there’s a grand total of three tables, plus a couple of sofas tucked away in the corners. The lack of seating won’t be a problem at the weekend or when a band is playing, but on this quiet weekday evening the place felt bare, and sat on an island of a table in the middle of the dancefloor was an odd experience. It’s a shame, as the place has funky decor that isn’t far removed from the cosy and welcoming The Wick at Both Ends. Unusual lighting, graffiti art on the walls and tablecloths printed with scenes from comic strips, all give the place a trendy vibe, but without crowds of people around the bar or the stage, it feels really empty.

The quirky menu also takes a leaf out of the Wick’s book – burger fans can order a ‘Moist Maker’ (“Sunday roast in a burger”) the ‘Ring Stinger’ (“the hottest burger in town”) or a deep fried burger (apparently, “you know you shouldn’t, but you just can’t help yourself.”) Even the menu layout is similar to the Wick’s.

As tempting as the burger menu was, we decided to plump for the budget option and ordered a no-frills beef burger with a pint of Becks (£5.50) and for me a bean burger with a pint of – what else? – Gaymers (also £5.50.) The burgers took longer than expected to arrive, but with our drinks already lined up we were only too happy to wait. When the waitress finally brought our burgers over, first impressions were good. Each burger came with a plastic tub full of french fries, which was an unexpected bonus, and were oozing with salsa and salad.

Too often, veggie alternatives feel like an afterthought, so I was delighted to see that my bean burger was almost twice the size of its meaty counterpart (ha!) As I tucked in, I quickly discovered this wasn’t just a bean burger – it was a seriously spicy bean burger. The delicious, kidney-bean packed burger already packed quite a punch, but the chef had also thrown lashings of fiery salsa into the mix, a double whammy that left my tongue flaming. Beware, this burger is not for the faint hearted, but I have a soft spot for spicy food and wolfed down every morsel. Highly recommended, for those who can take the heat!

The meat equivalent was equally filling, it came without salsa but still had a pleasantly peppery kick, although our reviewer found a few lettuce leaves in the bun that were turning brown at the edges – not very appealing!

The french fries, although a welcome surprise, were the standard fare you could defrost and cook for yourself at home. We also agreed they were too salty, and our cynical brains decided this was a ploy to get you heading back to the bar.

As a venue, saying The Harley is rough around the edges is a massive understatement. The toilets would give the Corporation’s a run for their money – good luck finding a stall with a working lock! Despite the quirky, Wick-style touches, there’s an emptiness to The Harley during the day that makes for a strange atmosphere. The Harley may be crying out for a spruce up but their beer and a burger deal puts the big chains like Wetherspoons to shame. After pursuing their mouth-watering, one-of-a-kind burger menu, we’ll definitely be popping in for more burgers soon (maybe the Moist Maker, next time?)

A budget venue – but, if you don’t mind the grotty toilets, then this is a real find for burger lovers.

The Milestone

June 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Despite only ever hearing good things about gastro pub The Milestone, it turns out no-one at Sheffield Eats has actually gotten around to trying it for themselves. Tucked away in a particularly industrial corner of Kelham Island, it’s not a place you’re likely to wander past and decide to pop in. Because it’s off-the-beaten track, you have to make a conscious decision to visit. With so many fantastic eateries lined up in the town centre, is it really worth making a special trip to The Milestone? Judging by the meal we had there this weekend, the answer is a resounding yes.

Located just off Shalesmoor roundabout, The Milestone is perched on the corner of a nondescript road, surrounded by a mish-mash of factories with bricked-up windows and swanky new apartments.

We were advised to book a table for The Milestone’s Saturday lunchtime menu, and it’s a good job we heeded that advice, as by 2PM the place was full. Clearly, there’s no shortage of foodies willing to make a special trip for their lunch.

The Milestone’s decor is a blend of clean, white open space and rustic charm, with plenty of homely prints on the walls and quirky flourishes, such as The Milestone’s twisty staircase and menus printed on fish-and-chip shop brown paper. It’s a pleasant atmosphere that’s completely unpretentious, despite the extravagant menu.

Obviously, the menu isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste. It’s not a million miles removed from haute cuisine, with each dish offering an intricate and thoughtful balance of flavours. It’s the sort of menu where unusual purees, jus and dressings feature heavily. The fish comes with samphire and cauliflower puree, and the 21-day aged beef is served one way: rare.

Excited to discover what had drawn so many people to The Milestone for lunch, I quickly ordered the goat’s cheese and beetroot croquette, which came with fresh garden peas, pea puree, asparagus and a poached egg (£12.95). It arrived at the table meticulously presented but, cynical and hungry, I was dubious whether this daintily-arranged platter could fill up my rumbling tum.

How wrong I was! The croquettes were stuffed with smooth goat’s cheese and the pea puree was unexpectedly creamy. A few bites in and I went from eyeing up the dessert menu, to wondering whether I’d be able to clean my plate.

Although I knew the goat’s cheese croquettes were made with beetroot, I was still surprised when I cut into the first one and was confronted by a bright pink filling. The colour might be off-putting to some, but I was left wondering why I’d never stumbled across this combination before; the beetroot gave the heavy cheese a real zing.

Asparagus can be a tricky vegetable to get right, but The Milestone got it spot-on; it was cooked through without being soggy. Even the salad leaves dotted around the plate had been carefully selected to compliment the rest of the meal; they were delicious mixed up with a forkful of pea puree and runny egg yolk.

An ingenious and expertly put-together plate of flavours and textures, presented with the utmost care. Despite the expert attention to detail, the goat’s cheese and beetroot croquette was still a real gut-buster that left me too stuffed for pudding, and grateful that I hadn’t ordered a starter.

We also ordered The Milestone’s take on the humble burger: an open beef and thyme burger served with horseradish crème fraîche, onion chutney, bread, celeriac coleslaw, rough cut chips and a side salad (£9.50). In contrast to my delicate-looking veggie option, this very upmarket-sounding burger turned out to be an impressive pile of grub.

The beef and thyme meat patty tasted like no burger our reviewer had been served before. A slab of high-quality, perfectly cooked meat, they raved that it was the best burger they’d ever crossed paths with.

The crème fraîche, onion chutney and tangy celeriac coleslaw were inspired accompaniments to this fine hunk of meat. The skin-on chips were served already seasoned with cracked sea salt and vinegar, and as someone with a fondness for skin-on chips, our reviewer was left vowing they’d never eat a french fry again. Crispy and rustic on the outside, and as fluffy as a freshly-baked jacket potato on the inside, The Milestone take the humble chip to the next level.

Unsurprisingly, wine buffs are well catered for at The Milestone. A whole section of the wine list is dedicated to ‘Fine Wines,’ which range from £31.50 to a bank-breaking £100. If you’re not a big-time wine connoisseur, there are cheaper options. We opted for a bottle of sauvignon blanc at £18.50, which went down a treat.

For those who are open-minded about food and who are excited, rather than overwhelmed by a riot of flavours squeezed onto a single plate, The Milestone is for you. Although this isn’t the sort of place you frequent on a regular basis, a meal here is an experience. A trip to The Milestone feels like a special occasion, right down to the off-the-beaten track location.

The Sheaf Island

May 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Pub Grub | Leave a comment
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The UK is now in a double dip recession, which sounds kind of fun, but is actually a Very Bad Thing.

We’re all feeling the pinch, so what’s to be done when it’s the week before payday, but you still want to eat out? The answer is pub grub, and Wetherspoons is surely one of the UK’s best known purveyors of budget nosh. For our penny-pinching evening out, the Sheffield Eats team descended on Sheffield’s newest Wetherspoons, the Sheaf Island on Ecclesall Road.

My major bugbear with Wetherspoons, is that they tend to be rather dark (I’m looking at you, The Benjamin Huntsman) but not the Sheaf Island; the floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of daylight (and let you nosey at the people walking past.) The decor has an historical Sheffield slant that makes this Wetherspoons feel less corporate-chain, and more like your friendly local pub, which is a nice touch. Our table agreed that the Sheaf Island is one of the nicest Wetherspoons we’ve ever visited (and as ex-students, this is a real accolade!)

The menu at the Sheaf Island is pretty much a carbon copy of every other Wetherspoons out there, but it still reads like a list of all-time pub faves: scampi and chips, curry, bangers and mash, steak and kidney pudding, fish and chips. For the adventurous, there’s even nods to more modern cuisine: customers can choose from a very healthy-sounding superfood wholewheat pesto pasta, or a lentil, mushroom, mozzarella & pumpkin seed roast. Yum!

We kicked off our food order with a five bean chilli (£4.60) which came with rice and tortilla chips. The chilli was a generous mix of butter, kidney, haricot, cannellini and pinto beans in a satisfying tomato sauce. The rich and spicy sauce in particular got an enthusiastic thumbs up from our reviewer.

Also arriving at our table was a ‘Simple Steak’ (£7.20) a no-frills 8oz rump steak with chunky chips, and a drink included in the price.

And the deals just kept on coming, as my veggie burger deal (£4.99) also came with a drink.

However, when we began tucking into our steak and veggie burger, we hit a snag: the food was only lukewarm and, worse, it had that overbaked taste of food that’s been left under a hot plate for too long.

The veggie burger was packed with sweet potato and lentils, and would have sat nicely in my stomach; a wodge of pure comfort good – if it had arrived at the table hot. By the time I got around to the chips, they’d gone completely cold. Even the stingy portion of salsa dip that came with the chips wasn’t enough to give them that fiery kick. The steak was juicy and came with plenty of chunky chips but again, it was a rush to finish the meal before it went cold.

Between us, we’ve eaten in the Sheaf Island a few times, and have always been impressed by the speedy service (perfect for when you’re ravenous after a long day at work), cheapness, and quality of their pub grub. However, there’s no excuse for serving food that’s clearly been stood cooling for a while. On this occasion, the Sheaf Island’s budget eats left us feeling short changed.

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