Revolucion De Cuba

July 21, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Cocktail Bar, Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Revolucion De Cuba is one of those places I used to be obsessed with, to the point where I discovered that you really can have too much of a good thing. Consequently, I had to take a bit of a break from the Mappin Street venue formerly known as Buddha Bar/Bai Hoi.

But after stuffing my face with a tonne of tacos courtesy of Revolucion De Cuba’s all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesday, I’ve rediscovered why I liked Revolucion De Cuba so much in the first place. So I was really excited to attend the launch of their new menu, together with some other Sheffield bloggers and newsy types.

Right off the bat, I’ve got to say that Revolucion De Cuba know how to make a special occasion fun, as we arrived to find our table decked out with funky pineapple glasses and straw hats. Cheesy it may be, but I love this kind of stuff.

Revolucion de Cuba hats and glasses

Glasses donned and selfies snapped, it was time to kick things off with a cocktail from Revolucion De Cuba’s ginormous drinks menu. Even though I had every intention of branching out and trying something new, after reading the menu from front to back I still couldn’t resist ordering the exact same thing I always go for.

Revolucion de Cuba pornstar rumtini

I just love the tartness of this Pornstar Rumtini, as it’s fruity without being too sweet, plus it comes with a shot of sparkling wine on the side, which can only be a good thing.

Since we’re smack bang in the middle of a heatwave, my dining companion opted for a frozen Banana Daiquiri (£7.25). This cocktail comes with a chocolate flake, and the daiquiri itself is so thick and icy that it can support said flake without any issues.

Revolucion De Cuba Banana Daiquiri

This banana daiquiri is pretty much a dream for anyone with a sweet tooth, and it’d make the perfect, refreshing pudding after you’ve finished stuffing yourself with spicy Cuban grub.

As we sipped our cocktails, we were treated to a trio of moreish nibbles: banana chips (£1.50), pork crackling, (£1.50) and spicy mixed nuts (£1.50).

Revolucion De Cuba nibbles

These nibbles are great if you fancy something to crunch on while you peruse the main menu, particularly the pork crackling which is something a bit different from your bog-standard bar snacks.

Onto the hot food, and Revolucion De Cuba brought out lots of tapas, sides and mains for the whole table to share, so brace yourselves because we have lots to cover.

First up was a plate of Smoky Aubergine Quesadillas (£5.00). These quesadillas were packed with lots of yummy melted cheese, and came with a very fresh and homemade-looking tomato and onion salsa.

Revolucion de Cuba quesadillas

For £5.00 this is a filling tapas dish that I can imagine eating on its own as a snack or even as a starter when I’m feeling particularly hungry.

For the meat eaters, there was a main course of Havana Chicken Salad (£9.50). The chicken was tender, juicy and nicely-seasoned but what really caught my eye was the colourful side salad.

Revolucion de Cuba havana chicken salad

This vibrant salad consisted of quinoa, green lentils, peppers, carrots, tomato, cucumber, black beans, edamame beans, yellow beetroot and leaves, finished off with a homemade spinach and kale dressing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a salad that looks quite this good!

Sometimes I feel like restaurants use side salads just to fill up the plate. Not so with Revolucion De Cuba! They’ve clearly gone all out to create a side salad you’ll actually be excited to eat.

This side salad appears in several other main courses and you can even order a ‘Cuban Salad’ on its own, which might just be one of the few occasions I’d actually consider ordering a salad in a restaurant.

This Cuban salad made a repeat appearance at our table, as part of a Baked Halloumi (£11) main course.

Revolucion de Cuba baked halloumi

This main is essentially a super-sized portion of halloumi, marinated in soy and ginger, and then served in a banana leaf with a helping of that awesome Cuban salad.

I’m mad about halloumi anyway, so I was always going to enjoy a main that’s mostly just a massive piece of halloumi, but the soy and ginger marinade gave this particular piece of halloumi a powerful, salty and very distinctive taste. This is easily the best halloumi I’ve ever had.

If you’ve got a soft spot for halloumi or you just love strong, salty flavours, then you need to try Revolucion De Cuba’s baked halloumi. You won’t be disappointed!

Next up was everyone’s favourite Tex-Mex snack: nachos. These Nachos Del Sol (£5.50) take crunchy tortilla chips and cover them in black beans, guacamole, homemade Roquito and Manchego cheese sauce, and chunks of mango.

Revolucion de Cuba nachos

I can’t remember ever having fruit on nachos before, but the mango added a welcome sweetness to this otherwise very savoury snack. I might just have to try sprinkling some mango on top of my own nachos in the future.

The nachos were followed by yet more tapas, in the form of some Iberico Ham Croquettes (£5.50).

Revolucion de Cuba Iberico Ham Croquettes

Apparently Iberico is a special kind of Spanish ham that’s salted and air dried for 12 months (thanks, Google) which explains why these croquettes had such a strong, salty flavour. The Iberico croquettes are particularly nice with a dollop of the accompanying garlic aioli dip.

I was already feeling pretty stuffed, but it turned out there was even more food for us to sample. An entire platter of it, in fact.

Revolucion de Cuba mojo chicken

This was roughly the point where I started to wish I’d been more restrained around that baked halloumi.

The first plate on our platter was sticky glazed Chorizo in a rich red wine and honey sauce (£6.00). This is hearty, comforting tapas with a slight kick to it, and I can imagine this really hitting the spot during the colder months.

Also on our super-sized platter was a side of sweet potato fries (£3.00). Like the halloumi, sweet potato fries are something I love anyway, so I knew I was going to enjoy these – but they were even better than I was expecting!

These sweet potato fries were perfectly cooked: crispy and nicely-salted on the outside, but fluffy and sweet on the inside. They also went really well with Revolucion De Cuba’s homemade rum sauce, which has a nice kick to it, not to mention the kind of freshness you simply can’t get from a supermarket-bought bottle.

Revolucion De Cuba rum sauce

The final side on our mega-platter was House Rice (£2.50). This is something I loved the last time I visited Revolucion De Cuba and it was every bit as good as I remembered, particularly the topping of finely-chopped, crispy fried onions, which were incredibly moreish.

At £2.50 this is another fantastic side dish. Revolucion De Cuba are really getting their sides spot on at the moment.

But the main event was an enormous Half Chicken in Mojo Sauce (£11, with two side dishes). This is a massive portion of nicely-cooked chicken, but if you’re seriously hungry then apparently you can go one step further and order an entire chicken!

This was when the lovely Revolucion De Cuba staff broke the news that there was even more food to come. In fact, we hadn’t even had our main course yet (!) as everyone would be getting the chance to prepare their own burrito.

But what’s the perfect thing to do before trying your hand at a new culinary skill?

Shots, of course!

Revolucion de Cuba rum tasting

Okay so this isn’t as heinous as it looks. This was actually a quick rum tasting session where we got to sample three different rums from Revolucion De Cuba’s extensive collection.

Despite the fact that I’m not a massive fan of drinking anything neat, this turned out to be lots of fun. This is the second rum tasting I’ve attended, and both times I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the range of rum that’s out there, from the painful-to-drink, to the dangerously easy drinking.

Speaking of painful, the first rum (Matusalem Platino) was so harsh that finishing a single measure felt like a major accomplishment. Thankfully it was all uphill from here as the second rum (Ron de Jeremy) was smoother, and the third rum (Gosling’s Black Seal) had a faintly butterscotch aftertaste that I enjoyed so much, I could actually see myself drinking this again!

If you’re interested in checking out what rums Revolucion De Cuba have to offer, you’ll find a complete list at the end of their drinks menu.

Okay, so three measures of rum dispatched and obviously the time was right to try and roll the perfect burrito. This went predictably…..wrong, but at least all the ingredients that went into my sloppily-rolled burrito were good!

Revolucion de Cuba burrito ingredients

In the end, my burrito consisted of refried beans, garlic mushrooms, fried veggies and spring onions, plus generous helpings of sour cream, grated cheese and house rice, so it wasn’t a million miles away from Revolucion De Cuba’s own Mushroom, Bean and Spinach Burrito (£9).

When it came to wrapping my concoction, I discovered that it’s much harder to roll the perfect burrito than you might think, which is why I’m not going to show you a photo of my handiwork. Instead, here’s a photo of my dining companion’s chicken burrito, for the simple reason that they did a much better job than me.

Revolucion De Cuba burrito

And thus concluded our Revolucion De Cuba feast. I left feeling like I’d eaten Revolucion De Cuba’s entire menu, but after consulting their website I realise that I’d barely even scratched the surface.

Revolucion De Cuba’s mammoth menu features tapas, sides, burritos, half and full chickens cooked in a variety of spices, hamburgers, a “fast and fresh” Rapido Lunch menu, a Fiesta Cubana three-course set menu, all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesday, plus a tonne of other main courses that don’t fit neatly into any of the above categories.

With so much choice, you might think that this is a case of quantity over quality, but everything I sampled from Revolucion De Cuba’s new menu was delicious, and there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t order again.

Revolucion De Cuba serve great food and great cocktails, in a lovely venue with some amazing special offers – if you love a bargain then you’ve got to visit them on a Sunday, when it’s 2-4-1 on all tapas and the majority of cocktails.

I can’t think of anything negative to say about this place, so if you have a soft spot for this kind of Cuban-inspired food, or you just love great cocktails, then you should make a point of paying Revolucion De Cuba a visit!

four-stars

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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

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!

PreviewScreenSnapz001

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

Popolo

August 10, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Despite nipping into Popolo for post-work cocktails on a number of occasions, I’d actually never got around to eating there. So, when I received an invite to the launch of Popolo’s new ‘Grill House’ menu, I was excited to finally be visiting Popolo for something other than drinks!

For me at least, the term ‘Grill House’ conjures up images of big steaks and whole, grilled fish, and maybe some gourmet burgers, pulled pork, and pancakes served with bacon and maple syrup. But beyond this handful of foodstuffs, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, so I was really intrigued to see what Popolo’s Grill House menu was all about.

If you’ve never eaten at this Leopold Square venue, their upstairs restaurant area is a really nice space, with a cosy and intimate atmosphere thanks to a combination of low lighting, plus candles and glittering glassware on every table. It’s the perfect setting for an evening meal, or even a special occasion.

First on the agenda, was our welcome drink. After a week of hot and humid weather, I was in the mood for a summery cocktail, so I couldn’t resist the the Wild Berry Jam (£5.95), which promised a double-whammy of fresh raspberries and blackberries, muddled with raspberry and blackberry liqueurs, and finished off with a helping of Wild Turkey 101 bourbon whiskey.

Popolo Wild Berry Jam

One sip of this cocktail, and I was hooked. It tasted like concentrated berry juice, served ice cold, with a boozy sting in its tail. The fresh berries gave the drink a tartness that contrasted wonderfully with the sweetness of the raspberry and blackberry liqueurs. Despite the addition of bourbon whiskey, my Wild Berry Jam seemed to be a bit light on the alcohol, but it was so refreshing and tasty, I actually didn’t mind. This Wild Berry Jam is the perfect thirst-quencher on a hot day.

My dining companion opted for a Mint Julep, which Popolo served in a brassy mug, encrusted in ice. This cocktail certainly has the ‘wow’ factor!

Popolo Mint Julep

Unfortunately, after perusing Popolo’s drinks menu online, I’m pretty sure the Mint Julep was a one-off special, which makes me very sad.

Cocktails dispatched, it was time to turn our attention to Popolo’s mysterious Grill House menu.

As I’d suspected, the new menu features lots of steaks, ranging from a sensible 8oz sirloin, to a terrifying 22oz T-Bone steak, as well as pulled pork, burgers, buttermilk chicken, and grilled fish. Up to this point, Popolo were fulfilling my expectations of Grill House grub, but then things got a bit random, as Italian classics started cropping up on the menu – meatballs, lasagna, and three kinds of risotto. There’s also a few dishes I wouldn’t associate with Grill Houses at all, most notably a starter of asparagus, hollandaise sauce, and a poached egg.

It may be an eclectic menu, but it’s also a very tempting one, and I had no trouble finding a couple of dishes I liked the sound of. In the end, I commenced my three course feast with some crab cakes (£6.95).

This photo really doesn’t do my starter justice – the crab cakes were enormous. Add a side salad and a handful of chips, and this would easily be a main meal.

Popolo crab cake

This wasn’t a case of quantity over quality though, as the crab cakes were delicious. The crab meat had a creamy, melt-in-the-mouth consistency, and the light coating didn’t overwhelm the delicate taste of the crab.

The crab cakes came with a chunky mango and avocado salsa that was very simple and fresh, and complimented the crab cakes perfectly.

These are easily the best crab cakes I’ve ever wolfed down – although the sheer size of this starter had me wondering how I was going to find room for my main course, never mind a desert!

Also winging its way to our table, was a starter of grilled asparagus, topped with a poached egg and lashings of hollandaise sauce (£5.95). The whole thing looked mouth-watering.

Popolo's asparagus, egg, and hollandaise sauce

In fact, it was so tempting, I couldn’t resist having a taste! The asparagus and egg were both perfectly cooked, and the hollandaise was creamy with a wonderful silky texture.

Neither of us could fault our starters. Popolo had set the bar high for the rest of the evening!

For my main, I’d gone for the king prawn and chilli risotto (£13.95). First impressions were good; I spied lots of tomato chunks and super-sized king prawns.

Popolo risotto

Bearing in mind I’d just scoffed two massive crab cakes, the sheer amount of risotto was a bit daunting, but I took a deep breath and got stuck in. Unfortunately, what I got stuck into was a king prawn so chewy and tough, it was like eating overcooked squid. However, this turned out to be a weird one-off, as every other prawn in my risotto was lightly cooked, tender, and delicious.

Apart from that solitary, tough-as-boots prawn, I thoroughly enjoyed my risotto.

At the other end of the table, my dining companion had ordered an incredible-looking plate of BBQ pulled pork, served on a sweet waffle, and accompanied by a very rustic apple and fennel slaw, plus skin-on chips.

Popolo pulled pork

The pulled pork was tender and juicy, and fell apart in the mouth – basically, everything you want from pulled pork. The meat also worked really well with the sweet waffle, and the rustic slaw. If you have a soft spot for pancakes, bacon and maple syrup, then you have to try this!

It was time for pudding, and even though I was stuffed from my super-sized crab cakes and big bowl of risotto, I couldn’t resist Popolo’s Oreo cheesecake.

My cheesecake arrived perfectly presented on a wooden board, dusted with icing sugar, and decorated with a few strategically-placed mint leaves.

Popolo Oreo cheesecake

Okay, so it looked good, but how did it taste? The cheesecake was creamy and sweet without being sickly, but my favourite part of the meal was the accompanying ice cream, which was so light and refreshing, it was almost like a sorbet. After a big meal, this was exactly what I needed.

And with that, our evening of Grill House gluttony was done. Popolo’s new menu is a bit of a random one, but what does that matter when they serve such great food?

All our meals were big, tasty and – apart from that single, rubbery prawn – perfectly cooked. Popolo also scores top marks for presentation, and attention to detail. The food may be a tad pricier than many other city center venues, but it’s worth those few extra pounds.

In short, we drank some great cocktails, ate lots of great food, and enjoyed the surroundings and atmosphere at Popolo. The negatives? Really, my only complaint is a solitary overcooked prawn – and, when that’s the only flaw you can find in a three course meal, you know you’ve had a good night.

 5-stars

Bamboo Door: Sunday Rum Sessions

August 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Posted in Cocktail Bar | Leave a comment
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If there’s one thing I love more than a cocktail bar, it’s a themed cocktail bar, so I was excited to receive an invite to the launch of a new ‘Sunday Rum Club Session,’ at Sheffield’s very first Tiki bar, Bamboo Door. 

Bamboo Door is located in the swanky Leopold Square, inbetween Wagamama’s and the building that used to be Platillo’s. It’s a relatively small venue, but it’s surprising what Bamboo Door have managed to do with the space, without making it feel in the least bit cluttered or claustrophobic.

The Tiki decor that might have felt naff or gimmicky, is actually really fun. This is a classy Tiki bar, rather than a cheesy one. The bar in particular is fantastic; it looks like it’s been transported from some distant beach, complete with shaggy straw roof. It’s worth visiting Bamboo Door, just to experience the decor – and maybe to fantasise that you’re ordering cocktails at a beach bar in some exotic location!

I’ve visited Bamboo Door on a couple of occasions and, although this post is supposed to be about their new Sunday Rum Club Session, I can’t resist talking about how great their cocktails are first.

Bamboo Door’s cocktail menu has all the Tiki-themed classics you’d expect, including the Mai Tai, Daquiri, and Zombie, but the majority of the cocktails seem to be Bamboo Door’s own creations, which is always nice to see. You certainly can’t order a ‘Bananas in Bahamas,’ or ‘Mangoes in a Bar’ anywhere else in Sheffield!

Bamboo Door’s cocktails are characterised by lots of tropical fruit juices, and some of the most over the top garnishes I’ve ever seen. Their ‘Eat, Shoots and Leaves’ cocktail is a particular favourite, as it’s topped with a marshmallow, which the barman blow-torches behind the bar, so it arrives warm and gooey in the middle – delicious! Other garnishes include cubes of crystallised ginger; pineapple leaves; and an entire grocery store’s worth of assorted tropical fruits. Spend an afternoon in Bamboo Door, and you’re guaranteed to get your 5 a day from garnishes alone. 

Bamboo Door cocktail

Despite the extravagant toppings, Bamboo Door are also reasonable about the amount of booze they put in your drink – sometimes, innovative and quirky cocktails that utilise a long list of fresh ingredients, have a tendency to skimp on the booze, so I’m happy to report that a few cocktails at Bamboo Door will leave your head pleasantly fuzzy.

The prices of Bamboo Door’s cocktails are reasonable, particularly for somewhere like Leopold Square, and you can expect to pay between £6-£7 for most cocktails on the menu. 

But, the thing I love most about Bamboo Door, are the glasses. Bamboo Door have the coolest collection of cocktail glasses I’ve ever seen. 

Bamboo Door cocktail

Drinking a coconut cocktail out of a tall green glass shaped like a grinning totem, topped with a freshly-toasted marshmallow, isn’t an experience you can get anywhere else in Sheffield!

Bamboo Door cocktail

But, onto the main purpose of this blog – Bamboo Door’s new, once-monthly ‘Sunday Rum Session,’ where participants can learn more about the wonderful world of rum. During each session, everyone gets to sample two different kinds of rum, plus at least two cocktails, with optional soft drinks, too. Each session costs £25, or you can become a member of Bamboo Door’s ‘Rum Club,’ and pay £15. Since Rum Club membership is £10, it makes sense to become a member of Rum Club if you’re planning to attend at least one Sunday Rum Session, especially since membership entitles you to other discounts, too.

On the night of this particular rum session, we arrived at Bamboo Door early, so we decided to start the session right then and there, and ordered a round of drinks. When I noticed Bamboo Door had a special Jalapeno Margarita cocktail on offer that night, I couldn’t resist – I had to give this spicy-sounding concoction a go!

The Jalapeno Margarita arrived in a glass that was encrusted in chilli flakes. Even for a lover of spicy food like myself, this looked a little scary!

Bamboo Door Jalapeno Margarita

The drink lived up to expectations, as the chilli-coated glass burnt my mouth, while the hot margarita mix caught in the back of my throat and, embarrassingly, made me cough. This is easily one of the hottest drinks I’ve ever tasted. 

As I took cautious sips of my stinging Jalapeno Margarita, my rum session buddy examined the long list of imported beers sold at Bamboo Door. In the end, he opted for a bottle of Xingu Black (£4.20), which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Bamboo Door Xing Black

After a short wait, we were informed that rum club was about to start, and it was time to take our seats. We were introduced to Tom, who works at Bamboo Door and would be leading our rum session this evening. He kicked things off with a brief history of rum, and an overview of all the different kinds of rum that are available today.

Tom was extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable about rum, and was more than happy to answer our questions. He was even willing to fetch some of the other rums from behind the bar, despite the fact that none of them had anything to do with this particular rum session. This is how we got our hands on the most expensive bottle on Bamboo Door’s menu, the Diplomático Ambassador, which retails at almost £200 per bottle! Unfortunately, we did have to give it back.

Bamboo Door diplomatico ambassador

Throughout his introduction, Tom kept stressing that the whole point of these rum sessions, is to show people that there’s much more to rum, than a glass of Bacardi and coke. I’ll admit that I’m a staunch “spirit-and-a-mixer” person, but even I found myself caught up in Tom’s enthusiasm, and was suddenly excited to get my hands on the first of this session’s rums.

As already mentioned, each rum session focuses on a particular brand of rum, and the rum Tom had selected for tonight’s session was Ron Zacapa. Our first taste of Ron Zacapa, was a generous measure of Zacapa 23, which we sipped while Tom went into great detail about the run’s complicated ageing process, which was fascinating to hear.

Despite not being a fan of drinking anything neat, I found the Zacapa 23 smooth enough to enjoy on its own and, although it had a long, slow after burn, it actually wasn’t in the least bit unpleasant. The Zacapa 23 had a complex flavour, with hints of vanilla, cocoa, and brown sugar, with an underlying woodiness.

After we’d sipped the rum on its own, we were each given a square of dark chocolate. Tom told us to take a bite of the chocolate and chew, then sip the rum and swill the two together. The effect was incredible: the chocolate completely took the burn out of the rum, and exaggerated its previously subtle cocoa notes, so the Zacapa 23 suddenly tasted like the strongest, most luxurious chocolate liqueur imaginable.

I wasted no time polishing off the rest of the rum and chocolate, all the while daydreaming about dark, cold winter nights spent at home with a bottle of Zacapa 23 and a big bar of dark chocolate. Maybe I’ll treat myself when the nights start drawing in!

Bamboo Door Zacapa 23

The second rum of the evening, was Zacapa XO. Tom explained that this rum starts life in exactly the same way as the Zacapa 23, before it’s put into cognac casks for a further two years. This is a pricier rum, with a bottle retailing at around £100, so understandably the measure was a bit smaller this time around.

The Zacapa XO was a darker rum, with a deeper flavour to match – it had a smoky, almost tobacco quality to it, with a hint of brown sugar that reminded me of the Zacapa 23. It also had less of an afterburn than the first rum, which was definitely a good thing in my opinion.

Overall, the Sunday Rum Session at Bamboo Door was a fun, informal, and interesting experience. Even if the thought of learning how different rums are made doesn’t fill you with enthusiasm, trust me, Bamboo Door’s staff know how to make distilling seem fascinating! After an hour or so of listening to Tom and sipping Ron Zacapa, I had a totally newfound appreciation for rum.

The evening is also good value for money, as you get a good few measures of quality rum, a couple of cocktails, plus the entertainment of one of Bamboo Door’s knowledgeable bar staff taking you on a journey through everything there is to know about rum. 

There’s nothing else like Bamboo Door in Sheffield at the moment – it’s a fun, quirky, independent cocktail and rum bar, with friendly staff and a very welcoming, relaxed vibe.

Bamboo Door is a great addition to the Sheffield bar scene, whether you’re attending a rum session, or just enjoying a cocktail. If you haven’t given Bamboo Door a go, then you’re missing out!

5-stars

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?

Bloo 88

September 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Posted in Cocktail Bar, Restaurants | Leave a comment
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I was a regular fixture in Rise’s beer garden in my uni days, perfecting the art of making a glass of house white last all afternoon, so I was surprised to discover that Bloo 88 wasn’t next door to Rise as I’d previously assumed, but had actually replaced my old haunt on West Street. But is it a change for the better?

First impressions are that the place has undergone a major overhaul: the interior is now all exposed brickwork and rustic tables, but the old open pizza oven is still smoking away in the corner. On the Saturday afternoon we visited, the number of reserved tables caught us off guard. If you’re planning to pop in on a Friday or Saturday evening, you need to book in advance to guarantee a seat. We hadn’t booked, but luckily still managed to score a table, where we immediately launched into the cocktail menu in search of refreshment after the arduous trek here (and by arduous trek I mean the walk from The Wig and Pen around the corner…..)

Cocktail connoisseurs will find all the old favourites at Bloo 88: Mojitos, Cosmos, Mai Tais and Martinis, but there are a few unusual options too, including a Vanilla Laika (named after the first dog in space, apparently!) and a Brazil-inspired Passion Fruit Batida. The cocktails are fairly priced, with quite a few coming in at a reasonable £4.95, with the added promise of two cocktails for £7 if you visit during happy hour.

We settled on a Bramble (£4.95) and a Godfather Sour (£4.95.) Despite being cheaper than many other Sheffield cocktail bars, Bloo 88’s concoctions did not disappoint. My Bramble was sweet and fruity, without being in the least bit sickly, and packed a boozy punch. The garnishings put the city’s more expensive cocktail bars to shame, as mine arrived topped with a juicy blackberry and a fresh black cherry. This sealed the deal and had me running back to the bar for a second serving of Bramble goodness (got to get my five a day!)

Not to be outdone, the Godfather Sour was served in a funky little jar, topped with a whole raspberry and plenty of crushed ice. It tasted every bit as good as it looked.

Expectations high after our lavish, alcohol appetizers, we turned our attention to the food menu. Bloo 88’s speciality is pizza, which doesn’t sound particularly exciting at first, but rest assured even their ‘classic’ pizzas feature unusual toppings like baked egg and pine nuts. If you’re feeling adventurous, Bloo 88 have some speciality pizzas too, including the intriguing ‘Shanghai Surprise’ topped with shredded duck, spring onions and hoisin sauce, or you can throw caution to the wind and build your own pizza from an impressive list of ingredients.

Starved, greed got the better of us and we opted for two twelve inch pizzas – the Mediterranean (£8.95) and Brunch (£8.95.) Our food arrived quickly and, to our delight, we saw that Bloo 88’s presentation skills aren’t restricted to cocktails. Instead of arranging thinly-sliced toppings evenly across the base, Bloo 88 scatter thick, chunky toppings, and then seem to cook them wherever they fall. This gives the pizzas a very homemade, rustic appearance.

Biting into my first slice, I discovered a generous wedge of melt-in-the-mouth, warm goat’s cheese – a perfect pizza, from the very first bite.

As well as goat’s cheese, the Mediterranean toppings included cherry tomatoes which had that delicious, lightly-grilled tang, spinach, roasted garlic and slabs of portobello mushroom. I’d wolfed down half of this scrumptious pizza before it even occurred to me to try adding some sauces. It turned out Bloo 88 did have plenty of sauces to compliment their pizzas, but they were tucked away on a trolley in the corner, along with the cutlery and napkins. The staff hadn’t asked whether we wanted any sauces with our meals (or cutlery and napkins, either) and hadn’t even told us about the trolley. After the bar staff pointed me in the right direction, I returned to the table armed with sauces and cutlery, but this should have been pointed out to us earlier.

After experimenting with a few sauces, I can definitely recommend a few splashes of the Tabasco for hot-heads like myself. Bloo 88’s thin base and fiery Tabasco is a match made in heaven. The rest of the pizza disappeared in no time.

But it wasn’t all about the veggie pizza; the intriguing-sounding ‘Brunch’ pizza turned out to be a bumper meat-feast of parma ham and italian sausage, with the same perfectly-cooked cherry tomatoes and mushroom wedges, but with a baked egg in the centre giving this pizza a real ‘wow’ factor.

Although our reviewer initially complained about the lack of runny yolk, once they’d chowed down on a calorific forkful of baked egg, cheese and pizza base, they quickly changed their mind and started raving about the egg instead. The parma ham had the crispiness and crunch of bacon (and who doesn’t love that?) and the italian sausage delivered a hit of salty flavour. Another massive thumbs up for Bloo 88’s grub.

Stuffed from twelve inches of pizza goodness, we asked for the bill only to discover that classic pizzas are 2 for 1 all day, every day – what more could you want? It’s difficult to pick fault with Bloo 88 – the surroundings are welcoming and rustic, the cocktails are delicious and presented with flair, and the pizzas are cheap, delicious and guaranteed to leave you scanning the menu, plotting what you’ll order on your next visit (Florentina and New Yorker pizzas, in case you’re interested.) The staff could be a bit more attentive and check whether you’ll be needing anything else with your meal but really, fetching your own Tabasco is a small price to pay when the pizza is this good.

If you love pizza or cocktails, then Bloo 88 is your new favourite haunt. The loss of Rise wasn’t such a big deal after all.

Highly recommended.

El Paso

August 18, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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El Paso is one of those places I’ve walked past upteen times, but never actually visited. Perhaps that’s due to its less-than-ideal location (at the bottom of the Moor, with a prime view across the current building work) and its shiny red plastic exterior, which is more takeaway than restaurant. But, after a couple of fantastic meals at London Road venues that don’t look much cop from the outside, we decided to give El Paso a whirl, and were very pleasantly surprised.

Behind the tacky exterior lies a cosy, welcoming little venue. We were braced for a worn-around-the-edges sort of place, but instead were greeted by neatly laid out tables, a funky little bar tucked away in the corner and a clear view into the kitchen, which is always a good sign.

And the surprises kept on coming: not only does El Paso have a cocktail menu, but our mojitos (£5.95) could have given snazzier venues like Browns and Mud Crab a run for their money. They were certainly a notch above the mojitos we had at ultra-modern Revolution the previous week – who’d have thought it??

True, they were sweeter than your traditional mojito, but they went down such a storm that we were on our second round before we’d finished weighing up the menu. El Paso has the full range of Mexican and Italian nosh on offer: crespelle dishes, enchiladas, burritos, chimichanga, paella, chilli con carne, lasagna, bolognese, pizza, and seafood dishes, including swordfish for those feeling adventurous. As lovers of both Mexican and Italian, we had a tough time picking just one meal, but finally gave the waiter our orders and, tums rumbling, waited for our grub.

And waited.

And waited.

Despite being one of only two parties in the restaurant, it was a good forty minutes before our food arrived. We could see the chef preparing our meals from scratch in the adjoining kitchen, but forty minutes is longer than anyone should have to wait for their dinner in a next-to-empty restaurant. If you visit El Paso during peak dining hours, make sure you don’t arrive as hungry as we did.

I plumped for the Mexican side of El Paso’s double-whammy Mexican/Italian menu, and ordered a veggie burrito (£8.95). My pair of fat, cheese-slathered burritos were served with a mountain of yellow rice covered with fistfulls of corriander. The coriander gave the rice a freshness I wasn’t expecting, while the burritos were absolutely stuffed with the usual suspects plus something I hadn’t encountered in a veg burrito before: spinach. The spinach not only gave the filling a unique colour, but also a really different flavour, with the fiery spices and cooling cheese completing this flavour-packed dish. Quite simply one of the freshest and most interesting-tasting burritos I’ve ever had the pleasure of crossing paths with.

After the taste sensation of the burrito and herby rice, the side salad was a complete let down. It was as bland as pre-packaged supermarket fare. To make matters worse, the El Paso staff brought us an extra portion of salad to share, which included the bonus prize of a stray piece of cling-film. The bowl it came in was also stained, as though it had been used for serving sauce-based dishes in the past. It may not have been dirty, but this bowl should have been bleached, or thrown out rather than reused as a salad bowl.

Moving on from this salad-related disaster and onto the star of the meal: El Paso’s paella (£10.00). This jaw-dropper was faultlessly presented with decorative shell-on king prawns and a ring of mussel shells arranged around the edge of the plate. A generous sprinkling of herbs, and you’re onto a winner even before you’ve taken a bite.

But what about the taste? The shell-on king prawns didn’t just have the visual wow-factor; they were succulent and perfectly cooked, and the rice was a treasure-trove of seafood: melt-in-the-mouth squid, small prawns and mussel meat, with a little chicken thrown in for good measure. A seafood lover’s paradise.

Our bill came with a few complimentary chocolates, but if El Paso were trying to soften the blow of the bill with sweets, they needn’t have bothered: we’d had our fill of fresh, tasty and high-quality grub for a very reasonable price.

After such a satisfying meal, it’s easy to play down El Paso’s shortcomings – the bland side salad, the less than spotless salad bowl, the missing locks on the ladies’ loo, and the shabby, empty function room you have to walk past on your way to the aforementioned lock-less loo. It’s this lack of attention to detail that makes El Paso a rough-around-the-edges find, rather than something really special. Fantastic food, surprisingly good cocktails and reasonable prices – but frustratingly, this place could do better.

The Chimney House

July 21, 2012 at 10:52 am | Posted in Private Dining | 1 Comment
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Available for weddings, parties, functions and what must surely be the BEST corporate meetings in the world, The Chimney House is one of Sheffield Eats’ all-time favourite venues-for-hire. Clearly, we’re not the only ones loving a bit of The Chimney House, because it recently came second in a list of the ‘World’s Most Creatively Designed Boardrooms,’ beating venues in Berlin, Sweden, Cape Town and Baltimore, to name but a few. So, we were ecstatic when the lovely Chimney House folk invited Sheffield Eats to their Summer House Party. A night of being wined and dined in a world-beating venue? Needless to say, we were a tad excited about this one.

The Chimney House is a building with a rich history. The grade-listed building, located in Kelham Island, was rescued and restored by Sally Clark and Tim Hubbard, who used recycled material from salvage yards and reclaim sites to create a quirky party venue that remains true to its roots. With its towering red-brick chimney and unique ‘industrial-chic’ vibe, The Chimney House is located next door to the Kelham Island Museum, surrounded by cobblestones and factories – it’s a striking building in a very fitting location.

We arrived fashionably late to The Chimney House’s soiree (and through the wrong door!) but the eagle-eyed hosts soon spotted us and brought our before-dinner cocktails: champagne flutes packed with a fresh raspberry puree, and a morish cocktail of gin, mint leaves, a hint of what tasted like prosecco, and more fresh raspberries. Even better, the lovely Chimney House folk were only too happy to keep our glasses topped up with this summery punch. We even spied them popping into the back and fetching glasses of beer for those who didn’t share our unquenchable thirst for cocktails, and mugs of cloudy ginger beer for anyone not on the sauce.

The Chimney House’s reception room offers a peek of what this world-class venue has to offer: a combination of homely charm and artistic flourishes.

When it was time to eat, we were shown upstairs to the main function room – which didn’t disappoint.

The room was dominated by a farmhouse-style table, heaped with eclectic decorations that ranged from Italian gunpowder barrels crammed with fresh flowers, to vintage teacups that served as tea-lights, to champagne flutes topped off with a single rose-head.

I’m sure you’ll agree, that The Chimney House’s attention to detail and artistic flair turns a simple dinner into a work of art.

There was just enough time to marvel at all the beautiful fresh flowers and flickering candlelight, before our hosts told us to tuck into the grub – we needed no more encouragement. The food, provided by local company Coco Catering, took the simple notion of a pie and pea supper, and did something magical with it. Served in big, farmhouse pots, the mash was seasoned to perfection, and so rich it could only have been laced with butter and cream. Our party simply could not get enough of the mash, ladling second and third helpings onto our plates. We could have eaten a plate full of the mash on its own, and probably would have, if the pie hadn’t been equally amazing.

The Chimney House had thoughtfully provided both vegetarian and meat pies. Instead of the vegetarian pie feeling like an afterthought, this spinach and ricotta treat had even the carnivores at the table helping themselves to a slice. The pastry was light and crispy (which left room for more mash – win!) and packed with indulgent ricotta and tangy spinach.

The meat option was just as good. The crust was slightly heavier, but it had a lovely, oven-darkened top and the meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender. Whether you’re a veggie or a carnivore, Coco Catering can provide the pie of your dreams.

To offset the guilt of heaping on the mash and helping ourselves to a second slice of pie, we squeezed some veg onto our plates. Somehow, Coco Catering’s culinary wizards managed to make peas and carrots a taste sensation.

Throughout our meal, the hostess herself kept our glasses topped up, and both the red and the white options were delicious. With our glasses never running dry, I have to admit we overindulged – but we had multiple helpings of peas and carrots, so this still counts as a healthy meal, right?

We were jokingly wondering ‘what’s for dessert?’ when The Chimney House crew called our bluff and brought out the dessert trays. Our couldn’t-eat-another-bite horror evaporated when we saw the perfect, bite-sized sweet treats.

The first was a cube of chocolate brownie topped off with a fresh blackberry. Blackberry and chocolate brownie isn’t a combination I’ve encountered before, but the juicy blackberry delivered a sharp tang that took some of the edge off the dark chocolate. How good was it? Well, I was completely stuffed before I had my first brownie, but I still found room for a second one…..

The other dessert on offer was a light scone base topped with a dollop of cream and a strawberry. These little puffs of air were the perfect contrast to that decadent chocolate brownie.

To finish off our meal, The Chimney House folk brought around bowls of marshmallows; a fittingly quirky way to end an amazing meal.

The only criticism I can level at The Chimney House is that it isn’t a pop-around-whenever venue, because this is one of those places you’ll want to visit again, immediately. Instead, we have to wait until the next birthday party, or corporate function gets booked there (boo!) The Chimney House and Coco Catering are a match made in heaven – a stunning venue, lavishly and uniquely decorated, paired with food that is both homely and absolutely rave-worthy. Judging from our night at The Chimney House, munching on Coco Catering’s grub, I honestly can’t think of a reason why you’d book an event anywhere else.

Disclaimer: we ate and drank (a lot!) as guests of The Chimney House.

Mud Crab

May 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Posted in Cocktail Bar, Restaurants | Leave a comment
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When news first reached Sheffield Eats HQ that Felicini was closing and opening in its place was newcomer Mud Crab, we were all shocked. Felicini always seemed to draw a healthy crowd, and besides, aren’t Mud Crabs those pesky little blighters who mob you everytime you go anywhere near water in Skyrim??

So, not sure what to expect, we made a trip to Mud Crab over the opening weekend, in search of nourishment and a few cheeky pre-dinner cocktails. Firstly, Felicini fans will be happy to learn that the interior is still recognizably Felicini, just with more pictures of motorbikes and some vaguely nautical flourishes, such as exposed iron rivets that look like they’ve come straight from the Titanic. The staff are very friendly – one of the waiters had seen our party wandering around Ecclesall Road earlier and joked that he was convinced we were stalking him, and the bar staff were eager to chat while mixing up our cocktails.

To kick off our Mud Crab initiation, our thirsty party ordered a platter of cocktails. The Chocolate and Banana cheesecake cocktail (£6.50) is an absolute must for those with a sweet tooth, tasting like a creamier version of a Bailey’s. Just be sure to tackle this one on an empty stomach; it’s like pudding in a glass!

We also ordered a Jalapeno Margarita (£6.50) – cocktail connoisseurs that we are, we still have to admit that this is a new one on us. A refreshing mix of ice, tangy lime and jalapenos, this is aimed at those with an adventurous palate, and it split opinions at the table.

We also sampled some daiquiris (£6.50), which come in a range of flavours. We opted for a creamy banana daiquiri and the blackberry version, which seems to be made from real blackberries and not syrup, judging by the blackberry seeds. The cocktail menu isn’t particularly extensive, but it contains many you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else in Sheffield, which makes the Mud Crab a must for cocktail fans.

But enough about the cocktails – onto the food! Mud Crab specialises in “custom built burgers and other essentials.” Customers can choose from a mouth-watering list of toppings for their burger: double mature cheese, chopped jalapenos, fried egg, cream cheese… Here, we hit a snag: there’s no veggie burger on the menu, and I don’t eat meat. Neglecting to include a veggie option is a major oversight. The burgers coming out of the kitchen looked amazing, so hopefully this is something they’ll sort out soon. Unfortunately, this lack of veggie options isn’t restricted to the DIY burgers: if you’re a vegetarian, the only thing you’ll be able to eat on the menu is a posh cheese and tomato pizza. Disappointing.

Personally, I’m a bit of a cheat and still eat fish and seafood, so I opted for the yummy-sounding monkfish and prawn thai curry (£14.50) which didn’t disappoint. The dish was a regular melee of seafood and veggies, topped with toasted coconut flakes which gave the dish a nutty edge. The pile of veggies and juicy seafood came on a bed of noodles; I would have preferred rice (better for soaking up that creamy curry sauce!) but overall, this was a unique and delicious take on the traditional thai curry.

Our table also ordered some “good fries,” which were beautifully presented in a rustic mug wrapped in greaseproof paper (£3) and the slow cooked chili beef brisket, served with corn bread, sour cream, cheese and salsa (£10). This is the only place I’ve seen in Sheffield that serves this American favourite, so if you fancy a twist on the traditional beef dish, get yourself down to the Mud Crab! One member of our party called it the best meat dish they’d ever tasted, so you won’t be disappointed.

The Mud Crab puts a fresh slant on the restaurant staples of burgers, curry, sarnies and meat dishes, and we thoroughly enjoyed everything that was served (they just need to add a few veggie alternatives.) Mud Crab is also a wonderful addition to Sheffield’s ever-growing cocktail bar scene. If you’ve exhausted the menu at Browns and Revolution de Cuba, then you owe it to yourself to venture down to Mud Crab.

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