Revolucion De Cuba

April 16, 2015 at 5:14 pm | Posted in Cocktail Bar, Restaurants | 1 Comment
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When I first moved to Sheffield, I got a bit obsessed with Revolucion De Cuba’s Sunday offers. 2 for 1 on cocktails and tapas all day, every Sunday? What better way to stave off those back-to-work-in-the-morning blues!

But if you do something too much it no longer feels special – and that’s exactly what happened with me and Revolucion De Cuba. Turns out it actually is possible to get bored of Sunday afternoons spent sipping mojitos and eating tapas (who’d have thought it?)

So apart from the odd cocktail I hadn’t spent that much time in Revolucion De Cuba lately. This meant I was completely unaware of their ‘Taco Tuesday’ deal, where you get to eat as many tacos as you want for £10. So when the nice folk at Revolucion De Cuba got in touch and asked if I’d like to come along and eat tacos, I was looking forward to my first Taco Tuesday experience.

Revolucion De Cuba occupies the Mappin Street building that used to be Bai Hoi back in the day. It’s a massive venue that’s all super-glossy wood, shiny tiles, colourful artwork and the kind of super-sized ceiling fans that make you think of hotels in places sunnier than Sheffield. In fact, everything about Revolucion De Cuba makes me feel like I should be wearing flip flops, with a rolled-up beach towel in one hand and an all inclusive cocktail in the other (if only….)

When me and a friend arrived early on Tuesday evening, there was already a few large parties happily tucking into rounds of cocktails and tacos, and a live band in full swing. The band were fun and certainly added to the party atmosphere, but the music was so loud that me and my friend spent most of the evening shouting at one another across the table.

If you’re after a chat and a chilled out Tuesday evening, then Taco Tuesday isn’t for you.

The idea behind Taco Tuesday is that you can order as many platters of chicken, pork or vegetarian tacos as you want, so I went for the veggie option while my partner in crime opted for the pork. The deal also includes a soft drink or a can of Pistonhead lager. No prizes for guessing that I went with the boozy option!

Revolucion De Cuba Pistonhead

As well as the usual beers, wines and spirits, Revolucion De Cuba has a massive cocktail menu full of quirky and unique concoctions. If you’re a cocktail fan, then it’s worth making a trip to Revolucion De Cuba for the drinks menu alone.

As soon as I polished off my Pistonhead, I got stuck into the cocktail menu and ordered a Pornstar Rumtini (£7.95). While I’m not a fan of the name, I loved the tangy, fruity taste of this cocktail – not to mention the shot of prosecco that’s served on the side.

revolucion de cuba rumtini

My friend opted for Revolucion De Cuba’s take on the Bloody Mary – the Bloody Pirate (£6.95). This cocktail has just the right amount of spice, and the tomato juice is really light and refreshing.

This is one of those drinks that feels as though it’s doing you good, rather than just getting you tipsy. If you’re into the whole hair of the dog thing, this would be an amazing hangover-buster.

revolucion de cuba bloody pirate

Our first round of tacos arrived pretty sharpish.

revolucion de cuba veg taco

Both sets of tacos came with a surprise side of rice, which I hadn’t spotted on the Taco Tuesday menu. The rice is rich and delicious, but it’s also really filling so I had to stop myself from eating too much of it.

If you want to get your money’s worth, then go easy on the stodgy rice – at least until you’ve polished off a few rounds of tacos!

Speaking of tacos, the main part of my vegetarian taco filling was seasoned mushrooms, instead of a veggie mince or bean chilli filling. Also making an appearance in my soft-shell tacos, was a diced tomato and onion relish, and tangy red onions that had an unexpected, almost pickled taste. I hadn’t been expecting this burst of sourness, but it gave my tacos a delicious added bite.

Revolucion De Cuba were a bit stingy with the filling, but this wasn’t a major problem as I knew I could always order more if I was still hungry (and I was!)

The pork tacos didn’t have this problem; these tacos was generously filled with pork, and topped with those unique, sour onions.

revolucion de cuba pork taco

Since Taco Tuesday is all you can eat, it would have been rude not to have a second helping!

revolucion de cuba second round

The filling in our second round of tacos was much warmer, and we also got a much bigger helping of onions. Both me and my friend agreed this second round of tacos was nicer than the first.

When anything is “all you can eat,” you’re always going to get a different kind of food than your typical restaurant fare, but to say this was all-you-can-eat-for-£10 with a drink thrown in too, I was really impressed with the quality of the food.

Inbetween stuffing my face with tacos, I had a look at Revolucion De Cuba’s main menu, and they’ve definitely given their food a revamp since the last time I visited. The menu now promises treats such as sea bass cured with lime and chilli, blue cheese burgers, and sweet potato and feta enchiladas – all of which sound amazing.

If you’re in the mood for a fun and filling night out that won’t break the bank, then Taco Tuesday is value for money, and the quality of the food is good considering you can eat as much as you want.

With a great cocktail menu and a tempting main menu, I know it won’t be long before I pay Revolucion De Cuba a repeat visit for some non-all-you-can-eat food action.

rating-3-star

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Anchorage: Sunday Lunch

March 21, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 3 Comments
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I’ve eaten at Anchorage in West One Plaza a few times before and have always enjoyed it, so when I realised they did Sunday dinners too, I knew I had to give them a bash.

Sunday lunch is something I always enjoy, but rarely cook for myself (far too much washing up for my liking) so a city center venue offering Sunday lunch is always something worth getting excited about. I was particularly intrigued by Anchorage’s menu, as it hinted at an American twist on the traditional Sunday roast.

Unfortunately, I had a bit of a mental block and wandered into Anchorage without a reservation on mother’s day. (Just in case you’re wondering, I took my mother out for lunch a few days prior to this, so I didn’t forget about mother’s day completely). Thankfully, I’d been looking forward to my Sunday lunch so much that I’d insisted on getting to Anchorage at 12 o’clock sharp, so we were pretty much the first people there and managed to snag one of the very few tables that weren’t reserved. Phew!

I’ve written about Anchorage before, so I won’t go into detail about the venue here (if you want to read about that, I talk about it my previous Anchorage post). Safe to say it’s a nice place that has some of the Wick at Both Ends‘ quirkiness but with a more polished finish. I feel like you could treat someone to a special meal at Anchorage and it’d go down well  – and judging by all the people celebrating mother’s day there, I’m not the only person who thinks this!

I’d been looking forward to my Sunday lunch all morning, so I didn’t even need to look at the menu – I already knew I’d be ordering the vegetarian Sunday roast. However, my dining companion fancied a starter first, so before I could get my hands on that longed-for Sunday roast, it was time for a glass of white wine and a starter of crispy squid with chipotle mayo (£5.50).

PreviewScreenSnapz001

The batter was light enough that it didn’t overwhelm the squid – always a good thing! The squid was tender and juicy, and the chipotle dip had a tanginess that complimented the squid perfectly. However, the batter did have an unusual, faint flavour that I couldn’t quite put my finger on – and I couldn’t make up my mind whether it was something I liked or not. The jury’s still out on this one!

Then, it was finally time for the Sunday roast I’d been craving.

The menu promised a plateful of nut roast, taters, green beans, squash, lima beans, popovers and veggie gravy (£9.00).

veg Sunday lunch

After some Googling, it became clear that popovers are basically Yorkshire puddings (you learn something everyday). This solved one mystery, but I still wasn’t sure why there were carrots on my plate, when carrots weren’t mentioned on the menu; and the lima beans that had been on the menu, were nowhere to be found.

This wasn’t a big deal for me personally, as given the choice I’d opt for carrots over lima beans anyway, but it would have been nice for the staff to mention this swap when I was placing my order. Who knows, I could have really been looking forward to those lima beans!

Missing lima beans aside, I was really pleased with the size of my roast dinner. For £9.00 this is a big plate of food!

The roast potatoes were fluffy on the inside with a delicious crispy skin, and the Yorkshire pud (or popover, if you prefer) was massive and misshapen – just like all good homemade puds should be.

When it came to the nut roast, I didn’t have high hopes. I love my Sunday dinners, and if you order a vegetarian Sunday dinner then 99% of the time you’re going to end up with a nut roast. It’s just that most of the time, you end up with a dried-out piece of nut roast that tastes like it’s been hanging around the back of the freezer for ages, waiting for the day when someone finally orders a vegetarian roast. Even at its best, to me nut roast just tastes like stuffing – give me an extra helping of roast potatoes or some mash any day!

So I was pleased to discover that Anchorage’s nut roast is actually really good.

This nut roast was far tastier than any stuffing I’ve ever had, and it was perfectly cooked – moist on the inside, with a nicely-roasted exterior. Anchorage were also really generous when it came to portioning out their nut roast, as I got three big patties of the stuff.

I can’t remember ever enjoying a nut roast so much. I even let my meat-loving friend try a forkful of nut roast and they loved the taste, too. Now that’s when you know a nut roast is good!

Anchorage once again nailed the whole vegetarian thing, with their veggie gravy. This kind of gravy can sometimes be a bit thin and anemic-looking, but Anchorage’s was thick and packed with flavour. Good gravy can make everything on a Sunday roast even better, and this gravy certainly did that! The bottom of the Yorkshire pudding/popover was particularly good, as it had been sat soaking in the gravy.

Although we’d originally planned to come to Anchorage for Sunday lunch, my friend opted out of ordering a roast at the last minute, when they spotted a 10oz hanger steak (£14.00) on the menu.

hanger steak

According to the menu, a hanger steak is an unusual cut that butchers traditionally keep for their own table – clearly, butchers have been saving the best for themselves!

hanger steak close up

Anchorage’s hanger steak is an intense and rich cut of meat that’s stronger and far tastier than your average steak. The words “best steak I’ve ever had” were even uttered!

The steak came with a few accompaniments – fries, a rustic slaw that tasted like it was made from celeriac, and a second helping of chipotle mayo. But really, this meal is all about the steak – and Anchorage’s hanger steak was perfection. If you’re the carnivorous sort with a fondness for steak, then you owe it to yourself to try this!

When it comes to Sunday roasts, I really can’t recommend Anchorage enough. They serve big platefuls of pure comfort food that’s seriously filling, and I can see many more Anchorage Sunday dinners in my future. After all, why bother to cook myself a Sunday lunch, when I can just pop to Anchorage and get something this good for £9.00? (And no washing up, either!)

This is easily the best Sunday roast I’ve had in a long time, and the hanger steak looked incredible. I can’t fault Anchorage – and I can’t wait to return!

5-stars

Sakushi Takeaway

March 17, 2015 at 5:22 pm | Posted in Takeaway | 1 Comment
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It’s safe to say I’m obsessed with sushi, to the point where I’m convinced I could eat it everyday and never get tired of it – although I’d probably go bankrupt in the process.

Sheffield has a couple of Japanese restaurants, but Sakushi is the one I eat at the most. I’ve already written about the dining-in experience at Sakushi’s Campo Lane restaurant, and I reviewed a truly epic Sakushi takeaway I had last year, courtesy of hungryhouse. But, whenever I order anything from Sakushi, it’s always so good that it seems a shame not to write about it. And, since my latest takeaway featured a few items I haven’t tried before, I thought a second review of Sakushi’s takeaway was in order.

I’ve ordered more Sakushi takeaways than I care to count, and the quality has always been every bit as good as the food they serve in their restaurant. Sakushi also put lots of added extras into their takeaway bags, including tonnes of pickled ginger, packets of soy sauce and chopsticks, which is a nice touch. The delivery is always prompt, even when I’ve ordered at peak times like Friday and Saturday nights.

My only complaint about Sakushi’s takeaway, is that occasionally they’ve got an item in my order wrong. This has happened on a couple of occasions (including this order – but more on that later!) and the strange thing is that I always place my takeaway orders online, so it’s not even like they could have misheard me down the phone!

On this particular night, me and a sushi-loving friend decided to order a few things to share. Sakushi’s delivery, as always, was speedy and the takeaway came with lots of added extras, including chopsticks that I can’t use – but it’s the thought that counts, right?

We kicked off our Japanese feast with a few different kinds of sushi that you can order separately from Sakushi’s menu. Our sushi ‘starter’ consisted of spicy tuna gunkan (2 pieces for £3.50) mixed nigiri (3 pieces, £4.00) and steak nigiri (2 pieces for £3.50), plus some surprise shitaki nigiri that neither of us had ordered (normally £2.50 for 2 pieces, according to the menu).

spicy tuna gunkan, steak nigiri, mixed nigir

After checking my email confirmation, it became clear that Sakushi had sent us this mushroom nigiri instead of the squid nigiri we’d ordered. This was annoying, as I’m not a big fan of vegetable-based sushi. To me, the best thing about sushi is the fish and the seafood, so although I do like mushrooms, this shitaki nigiri was never going to go down well.

The shitaki nigiri had a really strong, earthy flavour that I did enjoy, and the mushroom itself didn’t have that wet, slippery texture that cooked mushrooms sometimes have – but I’m still not sold on vegetable sushi. This just isn’t something I’d ever choose to order.

The steak nigiri got a big thumbs up from my friend. The pieces of steak were generous, tender and juicy – basically everything you want from a steak! The meat had also been seasoned well, and sprinkled with fresh spring onions that worked really well with the richness of the steak.

The mixed nigiri gives you the chance to taste three different kinds of nigiri: salmon, prawn and tuna. It’s perfect if you’re feeling indecisive, or if you enjoy trying a few different things.

Of the three, the tuna and salmon were my favourites. Not only were the pieces of fish far bigger and thicker than the prawn nigiri, but they’re also raw, so they have that really strong, distinctive sashimi taste that I love. Next to the raw salmon and tuna, the cooked prawn nigiri just seemed a bit bland and boring.

Still, I love the tuna and salmon nigiri, and I’m a big fan of getting to try a few different things – so for £4.00 I’d definitely order this again.

But, by far the best thing about our sushi ‘starter,’ was the spicy tuna gunkan. This gunkan is a seaweed roll packed with lots of diced raw tuna, and covered in a delicious and unique combination of spices. This is the kind of spice that catches in the back of your throat and makes you cough, but if you can take the heat then it makes for some seriously tasty sushi, and the spices work perfectly with the earthiness of the raw tuna.

I’ve had Sakushi’s spicy tuna gunkan a few times before and have always enjoyed it, so I’d decided to finally branch out and try the other kind of spicy gunkan on Sakushi’s menu – salmon gunkan.

Our second plate of sharing sushi was made up of the spicy sake gunkan (2 pieces, £3.50) that I couldn’t wait to try, plus another helping of spicy tuna gunkan (yep, I’m obsessed with this stuff) and crab gunkan with mayo (2 pieces, £3.50).

spicy tuna gunkan, spicy salmon gunkan, crab meat

The spicy salmon gunkan seemed to have exactly the same mixture of spices as the tuna gunkan. Whatever combination of spices Sakushi use, it’s really hot but also full of flavour. I’m hooked – I just want more of this stuff.

The diced salmon had a much lighter taste than the tuna gunkan. I can’t make up my mind which I prefer. Looks like I’ll just have to order both from now on!

The third and final gunkan was completely different. Sakushi’s crab gunkan has a nice amount of fresh crab meat, but it also has way too much mayo, to the point where it completely overwhelmed the crab. Sorry Sakushi, but this is one gunkan I won’t be ordering again!

Sushi dispatched, it was time for our mains. Since me and my friend are both obsessed with sashimi, we’d ordered two sashimi-based main courses to share.

First up, was a thing of beauty: a Fuji Sashimi platter.

Fuji sashimi platter

This is a whopping 21-piece platter of tuna, salmon, sea bass, ika (squid), tako (boiled octopus), hokkigai (surf clam) and fish roe (£23.85).

Everything on this platter is pretty special, but my personal favourites were the tuna and salmon. This isn’t just because I’m obsessed with the taste of raw salmon and tuna, but also because Sakushi are seriously generous when it comes to how much salmon and tuna they give you. Just look at those wedges!

Fuji sashimi platter 2

These are some seriously thick, juicy cuts of sashimi. I could have eaten 21 pieces of nothing but salmon and tuna sashimi and been perfectly happy.

The cuts of squid, surf clam and sea bass are on the thinner side, but they’re also really light and refreshing, which is a nice contrast to the stronger tastes of the tuna and salmon. My only gripe with this platter is that, next to so much delicious sashimi, the boiled octopus was a bit bland and boring – not unlike the cooked prawn in my mixed nigiri.

If you love sashimi, then Sakushi’s Fuji platter is food heaven. It’s big enough to share, or it makes a truly indulgent treat for one. If 21 pieces of sashimi sounds a bit insane, then it’s worth noting that Sakushi do offer a smaller version of this platter, which includes all the same fish and seafood, but in smaller quantities and without any fish roe (£16.95 for 15 pieces).

For our second main course, I’d ordered one of my all time favourite things from Sakushi: a Chirashi-Don (£13.45).

Chirashi-Don

Sakushi’s Chirashi-Don is a super-sized portion of sticky sushi rice topped with salmon, tuna and squid sashimi, plus lots of colourful fish roe.

The roe gives the Chirashi-Don a really intense, salty flavour and is particularly good mixed into the rice. You also get a good variety of sashimi, although the cuts are a bit on the thin side.

Sashimi on its own is delicious, but it’s not always particularly filling. This is why I love Sakushi’s Chirashi-Don so much – you get to sample some seriously tasty cuts of sashimi, but you also get to stuff your face with a super-sized portion of rice that’s guaranteed to fill you up. I also have a major soft spot for Sakushi’s rice, as it’s always lovely and sticky without being soggy, and it has a subtly vinegary flavour that I’m addicted to. Basically, Sakushi’s Chirashi-Don is pretty much my perfect meal.

While Sakushi’s Campo Lane restaurant is really nice and modern, and has a really fun conveyor belt of sushi, sometimes there’s nothing better than delicious food delivered direct to your door. I’ve always found Sakushi’s takeaway to be every bit as good as the food they serve in their restaurant, and this takeaway was no exception.

Apart from the crab gunkan and mushroom nigiri, everything was delicious and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again. If you like sashimi, then you need to try the Fuji platter and Chirashi-Don. And, if you have a soft spot for spicy foods, then both the spicy salmon and spicy tuna gunkan should be right up your street.

In fact, the only truly disappointing thing was that Sakushi got one item of my order wrong. If I hadn’t ended up with that mushroom nigiri, this would have been the perfect takeaway.

3 and a half

Ginseng

March 10, 2015 at 7:34 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Sometimes, you just want something a bit different from your usual, sit-down-and-order meal out. I’m a big fan of Chinese hot pot restaurants, where you order a pot of stock and then cook your own seafood, meat and veggies by dipping them in the stock – so I can’t believe it took me so long to try Ginseng!

Located in West One Plaza, Ginseng is a Korean BBQ restaurant where you grill your own food. It sounded like a fun night out, so I was excited about my upcoming trip to Ginseng. In fact, I was looking forward to it so much that I downloaded the menu well in advance – and I’m so glad I did!

Ginseng’s menu is a whopping 32 pages long (although that does include lots of photographs) With so much choice, it’s definitely worth taking the time to read the entire menu in advance. The other thing worth knowing about Ginseng, is that it isn’t open all day during the week. From Monday through Thursday, it opens for lunch (12-3pm) and then it’s closed until 5pm.

Inside, Ginseng is bright and modern, and much larger than you’d expect from the outside. Our waitress showed us to an empty table next to one of the eye-catching, super-sized fish tanks that dominate the downstairs dining area, and handed us a copy of that whopping 32 page menu.

sheffield eats gingseng

Obviously, a large part of Ginseng’s menu is dedicated to BBQ food. You can order various platters of meat, seafood or vegetables to BBQ at your table, or you can opt for one of Ginseng’s set dinners, all of which include the option of a BBQ course.

If you’re not in the mood for BBQ, then Ginseng also offers noodle and teriyaki dishes, soups, casseroles, and a selection of “hot stone pots” which look really intriguing.

Basically, this is one of the most impressive menus I’ve ever seen! I can’t imagine anyone struggling to find something they fancy on this mammoth menu.

Since this was my first foray into Korean food, I decided to order one of the set dinners as they seemed to offer a good mix of different Korean delicacies.

I went with set dinner A, which consisted of roasted barley tea, one pickled side dish, soup of the day, boiled rice, a starter, and then either the main course of your choice or a BBQ platter (£14.95).

My friend also opted for a set dinner, but went with the slightly more expensive set dinner B (£19.95). Those few extra pounds bought him one additional pickled side dish, ice cream for dessert, and a wider selection of starters and mains to choose from.

First to arrive was our combined pickled side dishes, plus some dipping sauces.

sheffield eats pickle dishes

The pickles were quickly followed by a pot of roasted barley tea.

sheffield eats roasted barley tea

I’ve never tried roasted barley tea before, but after just a few sips I was hooked. Ginseng’s barley tea was really light and refreshing, with a unique taste. I’m not sure whether the barley tea was unlimited, but our waitress didn’t hesitate to bring us another pot as soon as we’d finished our first, which was an unexpected bonus.

Both our set dinners came with sticky rice, which was the perfect size for a side order.

The soup of the day was seaweed and tofu, which tasted exactly like miso soup. It was strong, salty and delicious. My only complaint is that the portion wasn’t big enough! It was so good, I wanted more.

Next up was our starters. For me, that meant a seafood pancake.

For a starter, this was massive! The pancake had just the right amount of crispiness without being burnt, and was really tasty – although I have to say I didn’t get much seafood in my seafood pancake!

My friend’s starter was something extra special: seasoned sea snails.

sheffield eats sea snails

As you can see, it looked amazing. Apparently, it tasted every bit as good as it looked. This is definitely something I want to try on my next visit.

Now what I’d really come to Ginseng for – the BBQ!

For our first Korean BBQ experience, me and my friend both opted for a platter of marinated squid.

sheffield eats squid

Just so we’re clear, that isn’t a snap of our combined squid – that’s how much we got each!

So, how does this BBQ thing work?

Each table is kitted out with a metal plate, and when it’s time to BBQ the staff remove the plate’s cover and turn the heat on. They then place a grill on top of the plate, brush it with oil, and that’s it – you’re ready to BBQ.

Eating each piece of squid straight off the grill meant it tasted extra fresh, but the best thing about our squid BBQ was the strong, tangy marinade. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was in the marinade – but whatever it was, it was delicious!

The squid was so good, we both polished off our super-sized platters in no time.

The BBQ process does get a bit messy (try as I might, I couldn’t stop bits of burnt squid from sticking to the grill) but Ginseng’s staff kept a close an eye on things. They were always on hand to spread more oil on the grill, and halfway through our BBQ they even swapped our messy grill for a fresh one – without us even having to ask!

My first ever Korean BBQ experience was over, but my friend had one course left to go. The waitress explained he could choose any two flavours of ice cream for pudding. He opted for two of the more unusual-sounding flavours: one scoop of lemongrass, and one scoop of lychee.

sheffield eats ice cream

Ginseng’s ice cream was more like a sorbet, but that made it the perfect, light and refreshing way to end to such a big meal.

So, that was was my first taste of Korean BBQ – and I loved every minute of it! Cooking our own food was lots of fun, and made the meal feel more like an experience, rather than just popping out for a bite to eat. All of the food was delicious, the menu is huge, and the set dinners offer amazing value for money.

I can’t wait to go back!

5-stars

China House Takeaway

February 18, 2015 at 7:53 pm | Posted in Takeaway | Leave a comment
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Who doesn’t love takeaway? Whether it’s Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Greek, chippy tea, or something equally delicious, takeaway is perfect when you’re craving great food without the fuss.

So, I was excited when hungryhouse got in touch and asked whether I wanted to celebrate Chinese New Year, by ordering some food from one of the many Chinese takeaways on their website.

Fast forward a couple of days, and I invited some friends around and placed an enormous order from China House on Abbeydale Road. The hungryhouse ordering process was quick and easy, and despite the fact that I was ordering a massive amount of food on a Saturday night, our order arrived on time and everything was piping hot. What’s not to love?

Before I start, just look at how much food £50 gets you at China House. Just look at it.

China House all the food

With so many bags and boxes to choose from, the only difficult part was deciding what to eat first!

We kicked off our feast with a true Chinese takeout classic – spring rolls. China House offers meat and veggie-friendly versions; we opted for spring rolls of the vegetarian variety. (£2.20).

china house spring rolls

These were everything you want from spring rolls – crunchy on the outside, and soft and creamy on the inside. Delicious!

Since we’d agreed to share everything, this single portion of spring rolls disappeared in no time, which was annoying because I wanted more! Next time, I’m ordering my own spring rolls, and I’m not sharing them with anybody.

With so much food on offer, we decided to get creative and combine some of the dishes, which was how I ended up with spring rolls served on a bed of crispy seaweed (£2.50).

china house seaweed

In all honestly, it hadn’t been my idea to order crispy seaweed. When I hear the words “crispy seaweed,” I immediately think of fried, sugary cabbage. But China House’s crispy seaweed turned out to be light, and not in the least bit sugary or greasy. It’s always a nice surprise when you enjoy something you weren’t looking forward to!

Next up, was king prawn dumplings (£2.50), which we decided to serve in the crab meat and sweetcorn soup (£1.80).

china house dumplings and soup

I’m not really a fan of the slippery texture of Chinese-style dumplings, but in the interests of trying everything, I gave these dumplings a whirl. I’m still not sure about the exterior, but I loved the juicy king prawn filling.

The good thing about placing such a large order and sharing it amongst a group, is that it encourages you to try things you wouldn’t normally order. Case in point, the crab and sweetcorn soup.

Soup isn’t something I immediately think of when I think of Chinese takeout, but I like crab and I like sweetcorn, so I decided to add some soup to out order.

And I’m glad I did.

For £1.80, the crab and sweetcorn soup had a thick, almost stew-like consistency, and was packed with flavour. China House, you’ve made me rethink my stance on crispy seaweed and takeaway soup! My Friday night takeaway may never be the same again.

Next up was another Chinese takeaway classic – chow mein. For £2.50, China House’s chow mein is a super-sized portion of pure comfort food, that’s easily big enough to share.

I ate my chow mein with some mussels in garlic and sweet chilli sauce (£4.20).

china house chow mein

I had one issue with the sweet chilli mussels – and that was the sheer strength of the chilli! There’s nothing sweet about this sweet chilli sauce, and the heat only got stronger with each mouthful. I love spicy food and it’s rare that I complain about something being too hot – but this was way too hot!

Now, what Chinese feast would be complete without egg fried rice (£2.00)? China House’s egg fried rice didn’t disappoint! It was actually a bit lighter than your typical egg fried rice, which meant I could eat more of it – definitely a good thing.

The egg fried rice made the perfect base for some squid and green peppers in black bean sauce (£4.00).

china house rice and black bean sauce

The squid was tender and tasty, and the crunchy veggies had soaked up lots of fiery black bean flavour, so they were every bit as tasty as the squid.

Once again though, China House were heavy with the spice. My advice? If you see a ‘hot’ warning next to a meal on China House’s menu, take it seriously! These guys aren’t messing around when it comes to spice.

Thankfully, the next course was a chilli-free zone, as I tucked into a serving of king prawns and cashew nuts (£4.50).

china house king prawns and cashew nuts

The sauce was sweet and thick, with a honey-like consistency, and the cooking process had given the cashews a really strong, earthy flavour and a lovely crumbly texture. I’d definitely order this again. In fact, I’d order anything from China House that has cashews in it.

Next up was a double whammy of salt and pepper squid (£4.00) and salt and pepper king prawns (£4.00).

Of the two, my favourite was the squid. China House’s salt and pepper batter is like an extra-light, crumbly tempura, which I loved, but the prawns themselves didn’t have much taste.

china house salt and pepper prawns

The salt and pepper squid was much nicer, and it had that perfect salt and pepper taste, which had been missing from the prawns.

The next time I order from China House, I’ll just get the squid.

china house salt and pepper squid

Next up, was a Chinese takeaway staple: crispy duck pancakes (one quarter, £6.90).

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For £6.90, you get a good amount of duck and lots of spring onions, cucumber and a big pot of hoisin sauce. The hoisin sauce in particular got a big thumbs up, as it was thick and rich.

Pushing forward, it was time for some king prawns with bamboo shoots and water chestnuts (£4.50).

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To me, nothing screams Chinese takeout like water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. I can’t remember the last time I ordered these two ingredients from a Chinese restaurant, so I was really looking forward to this part of the meal.

China House didn’t disappoint, serving up lots of crispy water chestnuts, sweet bamboo shoots and juicy prawns, in a light sauce that didn’t overpower the other ingredients. I’ll definitely be ordering this one again!

By this point, I was feeling pretty disgusted with myself, but there was still pudding to go!

China House’s banana fritters (£2.50) are very soft and incredibly sweet. I don’t think I could have eaten more than one or two of these, but splitting a single portion was a nice way to end our super-sized Chinese feast.

This was the first time I’ve ordered from China House, and overall everyone was happy with the quality of the food. I would have preferred less chillies in my black bean and sweet chilli sauce, but I can highly recommend the crab and sweetcorn soup, spring rolls, egg fried rice, and king prawn with cashew nuts.

Thanks to Hungry House for arranging for us to sample so much lovely Chinese grub!

P.s If you’re planning your own Chinese New Year celebrations, hungryhouse have put together a guide with some food suggestions, plus a recipe for Lychee and Peppercorn Mojito. Here’s all the details:

To celebrate Chinese New Year hungryhouse has dived into the food and the traditions of the festival, to create an interactive guide to help you stage your own Chinese New Year takeaway feast in the comfort of your own living room. The guide includes information on New Year traditions, foods, a special Chinese do-it-yourself cocktail recipe, and it also features step-by-step instructions for people to make their own funky Chinese decorative lanterns to really get into the spirit of Chinese New Year!

To celebrate the launch of the guide, hungryhouse are asking people to make a lantern and then share a photo of it on twitter or instagram with the hashtag #hungrylantern. hungryhouse will then pick their 10 favourite pictures and award each winner a £25 hungryhouse voucher each. The competition is now open with winners being selected on the 19th!

So get your chopsticks out, dive into the guide, and get snapping for your chance to win some free Chinese food!

rating 3 star

The Lescar

November 29, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Posted in Pub Grub | Leave a comment
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Do you find that yourself drawn to certain pubs, when the weather starts to change?

To me, the Lescar on Sharrow Vale road is an autumnal pub. It’s just one of those places that seems to get more cosy and inviting, the colder it gets outside. The Lescar is all about the real ale, comfort food, and Sunday roasts – a winning combination on a cold autumn day!

The other thing I love about the Lescar, is its ‘friendly local pub’ vibe – right down to the books they provide for customers to browse and borrow. It’s hard to believe this place is just a few minutes walk away from busy Ecclesall Road!

The Lescar is one of those places that’s much bigger than it looks from the outside. It also has a very interesting layout, with different areas that almost feel like they were separate rooms at one point. Just when you think you’ve seen everything the Lescar has to offer, you turn a corner and find a massive function room, complete with second bar.

The Lescar’s menu has a very rustic, pub rub grub feel. All the classics are present and accounted for: cottage pie, burgers, fish and chips, sausage and mash, and steak. However, the Lescar put a little twist on these comfort food classics – here, the fish is done in tarragon batter, and the mash is made from celeriac.

In addition to the pub grub mains, the Lescar also offers a variety of sharing platters, plus a good selection of small dishes ‘to start, snack or share.’ I’ve ordered a few things from the ‘start, snack, share’ menu when I’m suffering from the beer munchies, and I’ve always been impressed. I can highly recommend the salt and pepper squid, which the Lescar serves with a tangy and delicious lime mayonnaise (£5.25).

The Lescar also have a Saturday brunch menu, which I’m desperate to try. Again, it’s classic comfort food with a gastro pub twist – the boiled egg soldiers are served with bacon jam, and the Lescar’s version of mushrooms on toast is Paris Brown, Flat and Oyster mushrooms served on rye with stilton cream.

The Lescar have a lot to offer, but on this particular day it was all about the Sunday lunch. This is something I never really cook for myself, so Sunday lunch out always feels like a special treat.

The Lescar offers the usual trio of meats (pork beef, and chicken) plus the obligatory nut roast vegetarian option. I opted for the veggie nut roast (£9.75) which according to the menu is made from cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cheddar, veggies and herbs.

My nut roast Sunday dinner came with veggies, stuffing, roasties, Yorkshire pud, and gravy. Don’t you just love the sight of a big plateful of Sunday dinner?

lescar sunday lunch

It’s amazing the difference good gravy makes to a Sunday dinner. The Lescar’s gravy had the perfect consistency, not too thick and not too thin, and it was really tasty. If I could make gravy half as good as this, I wouldn’t have to go out for my Sunday lunch!

The vegetables were perfectly cooked, and I loved the combination of leeks, carrots and courgettes. The roast potatoes were crispy and salty on the outside, but light and fluffy on the inside – exactly what you want from a roastie. The Yorkshire pudding was big, misshapen and ugly, the surefire sign of a homemade Yorkshire pud. It also tasted even better for having been sat soaking in that delicious gravy.

The nut roast had a nice, herby taste that reminded me of stuffing, and it was packed with nuts. The portion was also very generous, but it’s a good job because the nut roast had been overcooked to the point where I could only get my knife through the bit in the middle!

Luckily, this was such a big plateful that after eating the middle of my nut roast, plus all the trimmings, I was pleasantly full and still felt like I’d got good value for money.

I’d recommend this Sunday roast to all the veggies out there – although hopefully your nut roast won’t have spent quite so much time in the oven as mine!

At the other end of the table, it was a less traditional Sunday lunch: a West Country beef burger, sesame seed brioche bun, melted Taw valley cheddar and fries (£9.25) with smoked bacon (an extra £1.25).

the lescar burger

This is more of a gourmet burger, as oppose to the weird-combination-of-toppings burger that places like the Harley and Bungalows and Bears specialise in. The brioche bun was tasty, the meat was nicely cooked, and the smoked bacon lived up to its name, packing a really strong, smoky flavour. My Sunday lunch buddy was also impressed by how much bacon he got for £1.25.

It may not be your traditional Sunday lunch, but this burger got a big thumbs up nevertheless!

We left the Lescar pleasantly full, and plotting return visits so we could sample the Saturday brunch menu, plus an afternoon drinking session with added bar snacks. You know a place is doing something right, when you’re planning the next visit on your way home!

The Lescar serve up filling, tasty comfort food in a warm and welcoming environment that’s perfect for this time of year. If you’re craving pub grub, real ale, and relaxed surroundings, then it’s well worth paying the Lescar a visit.

three-and-a-half

Bungalows and Bears

November 2, 2014 at 4:09 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 2 Comments
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If you love burgers (and really, who doesn’t?) then you’re spoilt for choice at the moment, as there’s currently a tonne of Sheffield venues doing some really unusual things with this fast food favourite. Bungalows and Bears on Division Street is one of these places.

At Bungalows and Bears you can grab a classic bacon and cheese burger, or branch out and try burgers filled with everything from peanut butter to Monster Munch crisps!

If that’s not adventurous enough for you, Bungalows and Bears also offer a wide selection of additional toppings, ranging from smoked chipotle jam, to sauerkraut, mac and cheese, houmous, and much more, all a snip at an extra £1. You can even build your own burger by choosing your patty (either beef, char-grilled chicken, or a vegetarian ‘hippy’ patty) and then adding whatever toppings take your fancy.

Bungalows and Bears do other food besides burgers, but the burger section is so massive that I never even get around to looking at the rest of the menu! And this particular day was no different, because it was burgers all around at our table.

One of the things I love about Bungalows and Bears’ burger menu, is how vegetarian friendly it is. Vegetarians can choose from a trio of meat-free burgers, or you can build your own veggie burger by selecting a ‘Hippy’ spinach and lentil patty, and then piling on the toppings.

In the end, I opted for one of Bungalows and Bears’ own creations; a Shroomaloomi burger (£7.45) of flat field mushroom and halloumi.

Shroomaloomi Bungalows and Bears

My first challenge was working out how to tackle this king-size burger! The field mushroom was also very slippery, so whenever I tried to cut my burger, the mushroom slid away from me, taking the rest of the toppings with it. In the end I gave up and got stuck in with my hands. It was messy, but this burger is worth getting messy for.

Whatever halloumi Bungalows and Bears use, it’s the best I’ve ever tasted! Bungalows aren’t stingy with their delicious halloumi either, as my Shroomaloomi was generously filled with thick wedges of the stuff.

This is one incredibly filling burger, but it’s also too good to waste, so I battled through and polished off every last bite of my burger.

All of Bungalows and Bears’ burgers are served with a portion of chunky, skin-on chips, which are my favourite kind of chips. They also put a selection of hot sauces on each table, so I got to splash three kinds of Tabasco onto my skin-on chips, which is pretty much my idea of heaven. I was already completely stuffed from my burger, but the chips were just too good to waste; I couldn’t resist eating them all!

This is one of the best burger and chips combos I’ve had in a long time. In fact, it’s almost as good as the Wick’s mushroom burger, which is my favourite Sheffield burger. My only complaint is that my Shroomaloomi burger arrived lukewarm rather than hot, so it went cold long before I’d finished eating it.

Also arriving at our table was a Ruby Jean’s burger (£8.95) of smoked bacon, emmental and onion rings.

Ruby Jean's

The Ruby Jean’s was every bit as big as my Shroomaloomi. The combination of smoked bacon, emmental and onion rings worked really well, and the onion rings themselves were nice and crispy, without being greasy.

The only complaint was that the burger wasn’t cheesy enough; my friend would have preferred more emmental on his burger, or maybe even a stronger-tasting cheese altogether.

Once again, this is a massive portion of burger, chips, and hot sauce that was just too good to waste. They followed my example and stuffed themselves silly, rather than leaving any food on their plate.

The third burger to arrive at our table wasn’t your typical burger – it was a burger filled with peanut butter and a fried egg (£7.95).

fried egg and peanut butter

If you’ve never had peanut butter with egg on a burger before, trust me it’s not as disgusting as it sounds! Peanut butter and fried egg is one of those strange combinations that actually really works, especially as the runny yolk helps combat the dryness of the peanut butter, to make one very tasty burger.

If you’re open minded about food, then this is something you need to try!

If you think a peanut butter and egg burger is strange, then how about a burger of emmental and pickled onion Monster Munch crisps (£8.45), with a bonus deep-fried pickle on the side (£1)?

Monster Munch Bungs and Bears

The burger sauce had a nice tang to it, and the distinctive taste of pickled onion Monster Munch works really well as a burger filling (who knew?) Bungalows and Bears really do have a knack for these quirky combinations!

My friend also loved the deep-fried pickle they’d ordered on the side, as they could still taste that distinctive, sour tang of pickle through the batter.

If you order a burger at Bungalows and Bears, you can be certain of two things: you’re going to get very full, and very messy. These burgers aren’t for the faint hearted!

You can’t knock Bungalows and Bears for the choice they provide, particularly as this choice includes so many weird and wonderful combinations. Even if you’re a vegetarian, you’ll be spoilt for choice by their burger menu, which is a very rare thing!

The negatives? Personally, I’m not a fan of the way Bungalows and Bears serve their burgers in plastic baskets. I find this makes food more difficult to eat, especially when the food in question is a precariously-stacked burger. The drinks at Bungalows are also on the expensive side, so if you’re counting the pennies you may want to order a soft drink with your burger. However, when it comes to the actual food, I can’t fault them!

Finally, if you love a bargain then be sure to visit Bungalows and Bears on a Tuesday, when they do a 2-4-1 deal on all burgers. Considering how big and filling these burgers are, this is fantastic value for money.

four-stars

Napoleons Foodie Preview

October 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Recently, I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to sample the new menu at the Owlerton branch of Napoleons casino and restaurant on Livesey Sreet. But, this wasn’t just the launch of a new menu; the venue has also just had a £2 million refurbishment and extension. The invite promised a brand new, 60 seater restaurant, a new bar and lounge area, an extended gaming floor, plus the first outdoor gaming terrace outside of London. Pretty exciting stuff!

When we arrived at Napoleons, we were greeted by Marketing Manager Rachel, who’d very kindly organised this ‘Foodie Preview’ evening for Sheffield-based bloggers and Tweet-ers. She fixed us up with some drinks, and then took us on a quick tour of the venue so we could see what’s new.

The new bar and lounge area is now larger and more open than before. Previously, this area did feel a bit small and tucked away in the corner of the building, so this is definitely a big improvement.

To be honest, the restaurant area looks pretty much the same as before, just with more seating. It still has the dramatic red and blank colour scheme, the same low lighting, and what looks like the exact same fixtures and furnishings. This isn’t a criticism, as I thought the restaurant area looked great before, so why fix something that isn’t broken? 

Napoleons Casino

The tour concluded with a look at the outdoor gaming terrace, and Napoleons have done a fantastic job with this area. It’s completely sheltered and has a good selection of seating and gaming machines, so it doesn’t feel like you’re outside at all.

I’m a non-smoker, but I do have friends who smoke, so I can appreciate the benefit of having a space where people can smoke outdoors without being exposed to the elements. Rachel also raised a good point that the outdoor gaming terrace means smokers can pick a machine and play on it all night if they wish, without having to risk losing their machine everytime they pop outside for a cigarette.

Tour complete, it was time to take our seats and find out what Napoleons had in store for us this evening. I was excited to learn that, although we’d be choosing our main meal, we’d also each receive platters of different starters and desserts, so we could sample as much of the new menu as possible. This is a great way to get a feel for a menu – and really, who wants one pudding, when you can have three?

First up, was a platter of mini starters.

Napoleons Casino

My favourite thing on this platter was definitely the parsnip cappuccino. This unique starter is served in a coffee mug, and even has a coffee-coloured, foamy top just like you’d find on a real cappuccino.

Napoleons Casino

The soup itself is creamy, satisfying, and slightly spicy – in other words, it’s the perfect soup for winter. The parsnip cappuccino was served with a crispy, miniature onion bhaji on the side, which was perfect for dunking into the soup.

Also on the platter was that old classic, the prawn cocktail. A prawn cocktail isn’t something I’d normally order from a menu, but this particular prawn cocktail was full of fresh and tasty prawns, and was very nicely presented. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it – and this is coming from someone who doesn’t really like prawn cocktails!

The mini goat’s cheese and roasted fig bruschetta was much more my style.

Napoleons casino tartlet

The tanginess of the goat’s cheese and the sweetness of the roasted fig was a winning combination. When I pay my next visit to Napoleons, I’m going to be torn between ordering this bruschetta, or ordering the parsnip cappuccino.

The final starter on my platter, was a black pudding wonton. Since I don’t eat meat, I did a quick food exchange with my dining companion, in return for their goat’s cheese bruschetta (score!) They confirmed the wonton was just as tasty as the other starters and, even though they’re not usually a massive fan of black pudding, they wolfed down both wontons.

Onto the mains, and this was the only course we got to pick ourselves. Well, I suppose a platter of main courses would have been a bit excessive!

All the main courses on Napoleons’ new menu sound delicious, but it’s a very meat heavy menu. If you fancy fish, there’s two fish-based dishes to choose from, plus there’s a vegetarian main course of cherry tomato, pimento and basil linguini.

In the end, I opted for the grilled swordfish steak, confit of tomatoes and Mediterranean vegetables with salsa verde. When my meal arrived, I knew I’d made the right choice, because look at the size of that swordfish steak!

Napoleons Casino swordfish

My super-sized swordfish was tender, juicy, and full of flavour. This is the nicest piece of fish I’ve had in quite a while.

Meanwhile, my dining companion had gone for the chargrilled sirloin steak, which came with beef dripping potato wedges, Yorkshire pudding and horseradish jus. 

Napoleons casino steak

The steak was cooked exactly as requested (medium rare) and the potato wedges tasted of real beef dripping.

At Napoleons, all main courses come with a selection of veggies, plus a side order of super-cheesy potatoes. If you book a table at Napoleons, there’s no way you’re going home hungry!

Napoleons Casino potatoes

I’d already eaten a whole swordfish steak, plus portions of parsnip soup, onion bhaji, prawn cocktail, and two pieces of goat’s cheese bruschetta, and there was still a whole platter left to go! I was on the verge of slipping into a food coma at the table, but there was no going back now – it was pudding time. 

Napoleons Casino pudding

First up was a small pot of gingered apple and plum crumble with vanilla custard. The crumble and custard were light, and the fruit filling was a nice mix of tart and sweet, although I couldn’t really taste the ginger. 

The second mini pudding was a portion of dense chocolate brownie. The brownie had a very rich, strong chocolate flavour without being overly sweet. My only grumble is that the brownie was a bit dry on its own; a drizzle of chocolate sauce would have been appreciated.

I’d saved the best until last, because the final pudding was a warm ginger cake, complete with a drizzle of sweet and spicy ginger sauce. The cake itself was lovely and moist, and tasted really strongly of ginger, which I love. This is a very satisfying pud that’s perfect for the colder months. I’m looking forward to paying a repeat visit to Napoleons just so I can order a full-sized piece of this cake!

Food dispatched, there was just enough time for a complimentary £5 spin on the roulette wheel (which I didn’t win) and then it was time to head home.

I was really impressed by Napoleons’ new menu. When you’re in the mood for a slap up meal, this casino may not be the first place that springs to mind, but they serve quality food with plenty of restaurant flourishes – case in point, that quirky parsnip cappuccino. You also can’t complain about the prices, as you can get a three course meal for either £19 or £21, depending on whether you dine on a weekday or a weekend. For the quality of food Napoleons serves, this is a bargain!

If you’re planning a visit to Napoleons Owlerton, I can highly recommend you eat there too. In fact, even if you’re not planning on visiting the casino, it’s worth taking a look at the menu anyway – you may just surprise yourself and pay Napoleons a visit for the food alone!

four-stars

Anchorage Bar

October 11, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 2 Comments
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When I heard that Anchorage, a new ‘East Coast’ restaurant, had opened in West One Plaza, I was looking forward to trying somewhere new – and that’s before I even realised this venue is part of the Harley and Wick at Both Ends family. The Harley and the Wick are two of my favourite places to eat in Sheffield, so when I realised Anchorage was related to these two, I couldn’t wait to give it a go!

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First impressions of Anchorage Bar were positive. It’s a bright and airy venue, with the same quirky touches and indie charm I love so much about the Wick at Both Ends.

If you’re a fan of the Wick, like I am, the cocktail menu will feel instantly familiar, as a couple of Wick cocktails have made the transition to Anchorage Bar. This doesn’t mean the drinks menu is a carbon copy, as Anchorage also offers a large and unique selection of imported beers, plus a very special prosecco sharer that’s actually served in a lobster cage!

This ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’ is described as “the ultimate sharer” and, since it apparently consists of a whole bottle of prosecco, 6 shots, plus the aforementioned lobster cage, it sounds like it lives up to that description! I was dying to see what this beast actually looks like but sadly, at £40 it’s not exactly the sort of thing you order on a whim!

Despite this being my very first visit to a brand-new venue, I have to admit I ended up ordering a cocktail I’ve already had many times at the Wick at Both Ends – a Corpse Reviver (£7).

This deceptively-dainty looking drink is a potent blend of Buffalo Trace, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc and Absinthe. Sadly, my Corpse Reviver was nothing like the “guaranteed to raise the dead” cocktail I remembered from the Wick. It tasted overpoweringly of lemon, and didn’t pack half the punch I’d been expecting. I haven’t ordered a Corpse Reviver in a while, so it’s possible the Wick have changed their recipe, or maybe Anchorage’s barman was simply having a bad day. Either way, I switched to wine for the rest of the evening rather than risk ordering another cocktail.

Since this was my first visit to Anchorage, I took my time scrutinising the food menu. In addition to the usual Starters, Mains, and Desserts sections, the menu also includes an enormous deli section made up of 6 inch subs, deli sandwiches, and a “build your own” board of cheeses and meats. For me, the meat and cheese board is the most exciting thing on the deli menu, as it comes with pickles, focaccia and squid ink bread. When summer rolls around, I can’t think of anything better than sharing a board of cheese and squid ink bread, with a cheeky bottle of wine on the side.

Sadly, summer isn’t about to roll around anytime soon – in fact, by the time I’d read through the deli menu and polished off my sour Corpse Reviver, it had already grown dark outside.

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It was high time we got serious and actually ordered some food! I opted for some comfort food, in the form of a Mac and Cheese burger (£8).

Anchorage Bar mac and cheese burger

I’ll admit the first time I saw a Mac and Cheese burger on a menu, I thought it sounded hideous. But then curiosity got the better of me and I ordered my first ever mac and cheese burger. I loved it, and have been ordering them ever since.

Anchorage’s version of a mac and cheese burger is incredibly strong. Whatever cheese they use in these burgers, it’s strong and salty, and has a tanginess that reminded me of blue cheese. If you like your cheese mild, then you should avoid this burger! For me, when it comes to cheese it’s a case of the stronger the better, so I loved the taste of this burger. The patty had been cooked just right too, which was a relief – no one wants soggy pasta or overcooked, rubbery cheese in their burger.

Anchorage’s mac and cheese burger is a filling and stodgy carb-fest. Just a few bites in, I knew there was no way I’d be able to eat it all. This is comfort food at its best, but I’d only order this again if I was seriously hungry, because this is one heavy burger!

My dining companion had also ordered a burger, but instead of pasta and cheese, their burger patty was made from 35 day, dry-aged beef, topped with a wedge of melted cheese (£8.50). Clearly, the Anchorage chefs aren’t worried about your waistline!

Anchorage Bar beef burger

This burger got a big thumbs up for the generous helping of cheese, and the thickly-glazed brioche bun.

We left Anchorage absolutely stuffed and, apart from that dodgy Corpse Reviver, feeling like we’d got good value for money. I’m already planning a second visit so I can sample that delicious-sounding deli menu!

Suffice to say, Anchorage is already well on its way to joining the Wick and the Harley as one of my favourite places to dine and drink in Sheffield.

four-stars

Piccolino

October 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Don’t you just love those glorious few weeks of summer, when you can get reacquainted with your old friend the beer garden?

Previously, I thought the only thing better than a beer garden, was a beer garden with an overhead heater, but Piccolino in Millennium Square have proven me wrong with their heated outdoor terrace.

Despite visiting Piccolino at a random time (late one Wednesday afternoon) their outdoor dining area was so busy I didn’t think we’d be able to get a table. Thankfully, one of the waitresses managed to find us a spare table in the far corner. She explained the heaters in this area hadn’t been turned on yet, but if we got cold we just needed to let her know, and she’d switch them on for us. As it turned out, the terrace was sheltered enough that we could comfortably sit outside without the heaters.

Our waitress brought us a pitcher of water and glasses while we perused the menu. Despite our good intentions with the water, somehow two glasses of Chardonnay ended up on our table (£6.75 each). Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

When it comes to food, you have to give Piccolino credit for the sheer size of their menu. Craving carbs? You’re in luck, because the menu features no less than 20 pasta-based dishes. More of a seafood fan? Take your pick from lobster, crab, mussels, clams, scallops, and sea bass, not to mention a heavenly-sounding shellfish butter. There’s also a good selection of pizza and meat dishes, not to mention a whole section dedicated to beef. Rump, rib eye, sirloin, fillet – or if you fancy splashing out, how about a 35 day aged, bone-in prime rib?

I can’t imagine anyone struggling to find something tempting on this mammoth menu!

Despite all the choice, there was no question what I was going to order – I had to give that shellfish butter a go! This meant ordering the ‘ravioli al granchio’ (£13.50); crab ravioli topped with chilli and basil and, of course, that magical-sounding shellfish butter.

When I gave the waitress my order, she wasted no time informing me I’d only get around four pieces of ravioli, in a way that suggested they’d received some complaints about portion size. But it was too late – I had my heart set on shellfish butter. Anyway, I could always order dessert if I was still hungry, right?

The waitress took our orders, and promptly returned with a small basket of complimentary bread and some olive oil, so we had something to snack on while we waited for our mains. Don’t you just love a freebie?

After demolishing the bread and oil, it was time for our mains, and I have to say Piccolino’s ‘ravioli al granchio’ might just be the prettiest pasta dish I’ve ever laid eyes on!

Piccolino Ravioli al granchi

The crab ravioli tasted every bit as good as it looked, and the flakes of chilli gave it an unexpected prickly heat, which I loved. But my main motivation for ordering the ‘ravioli al granchio’ was that shellfish butter, and I wasn’t disappointed! It was absolutely delicious, and had a really complex flavour that was only intensified by the basil and flakes of chilli that’d been soaking in it. Despite being butter-based, it wasn’t in the least bit greasy and actually had a very light, silky texture which was a pleasant surprise.

I just wished I hadn’t been greedy and wolfed down all that free bread, because the only thing missing from my main was something to wipe up every last morsel of shellfish butter. It was a shame to leave any of it floating in the bottom of the bowl!

True, there was only a handful of ravioli, but they were big pieces generously stuffed with lots of crab meat, so I didn’t feel in the least bit short changed. This is the perfect portion size for lunch or even a light evening meal, and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again.

Also winging its way to our table was that Italian favourite, beef lasagna (£10.50).

Piccolino lasagna

Lasagna is one of those simple dishes that’s actually really easy to get wrong. Too much cheese, too much sauce, too much pasta, or even too much meat can completely ruin a good lasagna (and I’m speaking as someone who has ruined many a good lasagna!)

Piccolino’s lasagna gets this tricky balance of ingredients just right. The sauce also had a good flavour without being too strong or spicy, and the meat was tender, tasty, and grease-free. Another big thumbs up for the food!

Since we were enjoying the novelty of sitting outside without coats, we decided to make the experience last a little longer and ordered a round of coffees. I ordered a liqueur coffee (£6.25) with Bailey’s because, well, it’s kind of getting close to the Christmas season!

Piccolino liqueur coffee

Piccolino’s liqueur coffee didn’t exactly put me in the festive spirit. I couldn’t really taste any Bailey’s and even the coffee itself was on the weak side. This definitely wasn’t six quid’s worth of liqueur coffee!

At the other end of the table, it was a booze-free caffeine fix, with a more reasonably-priced £2.75 latte. This latte got a more positive response than my boozy alternative, so next time I’ll save my pennies and order my Piccolino coffee alcohol-free.

The liqueur coffee is my only major gripe with my Piccolino’s experience. I loved their heated terrace, and as the days get colder and darker, I can only imagine it becoming even more popular, as sitting outside without freezing becomes a novelty.

The food was delicious, and the menu is massive. The wine is a little on the pricy side, but this is pretty much to be expected when you’re eating out.

If you’re a fan of Italian (and really, who isn’t?) and don’t mind spending a few extra pounds than you would around the corner at, say, Strada or Zizzi’s, then Piccolino is definitely worth a visit – if only to experience their heated outdoor terrace!

three-and-a-half

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