The Devonshire Cat

December 8, 2016 at 8:48 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Back in the day, the Devonshire Cat used to be my go-to place for pre-Corporation drinks – because if you’re going to spend 30 minutes queued up in the cold, then you need something to keep you going!

Despite this, I’d never actually eaten at the Devonshire Cat before, so when I heard that they’d just finished refurbing the Wellington Street venue, I was excited to see how the new-look Devonshire Cat compared to my (slightly fuzzy) pre-Corp memories. Plus, they’d just launched a brand new menu, and I’m always up for checking out a new menu!

The newly-renovated Devonshire Cat feels much lighter and more open than before, which is a welcome change, because the Dev Cat was always nice, but it did used to feel a bit on the dark side.

devonshire-cat

Turns out, the Devonshire Cat’s new menu is perfect for this time of year, as it’s packed with comfort food and seasonal favourites. And since the Dev Cat is best known for its huge range of bottled beers and real ales, it’s great to see them continue this theme across their food, with a menu that features plenty of booze-infused treats including mussels in wheat beer broth, chicken thighs roasted in Heathen pale ale, and Absolution battered cod.

I kicked off my three course meal with something suitably wintry: a warm salad of red cabbage, beetroot, apple and goat’s cheese (£4.75).

dev-cat-red-warm-salad

For the price, this is a generous portion, and the goat’s cheese gives this salad an indulgent feel (if only this could be said of all salads!) The beetroot was fresh, rather than pickled, which means this salad has a really unique, woody flavour that contrasts nicely with the rich, creamy goat’s cheese. This is a great vegetarian starter!

Meanwhile, my friend had opted for the honey and ginger chicken wings, which were served with homemade ketchup (£5.50).

dev-cat-chicken-wings

The homemade ketchup was packed with flavour and had a nice kick to it. The chicken wings did have a hint of ginger and honey to them, but my friend did say they’d have preferred these wings to pack more of a punch when it came to the ginger and honey.

Onto the mains, and surely I can’t be the only one who’s fed up of seeing the same 2-3 vegetarian options on every pub menu? There’s only so many times you can order a veggie wellington, mac and cheese, veggie burger or vegetarian lasagna, before you start craving something a bit more exciting – or at least something different!

So I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Devonshire Cat have clearly put as much thought into their vegetarian meals, as they have the rest of their menu.

In the end, I wound up ordering the roast chestnuts and wild mushroom cottage pie, which came with braised red cabbage and green beans (£8.95). This might just be one of the tastiest-sounding vegetarian meals I’ve ever seen on a pub menu!

dev-cat-chestnut-and-mushroom-cottage-pie

Chestnuts are my all-time favourite Christmas treat anyway, to the point where I actually named my childhood hamster after them (RIP Chestnut). As it turns out, the only thing better than roast chestnuts, are chestnuts and wild mushrooms smothered in mashed potatoes. If you’re craving something to warm you up on a cold day, then this is it!

Despite almost being swayed by the Devonshire Cat’s Sunday roast, when it came to their main course my dining companion wound up ordering the Absolution-battered cod, double-cooked chips, mushy peas and homemade tartar sauce (£9.95).

This is an enormous plate of food!

dev-cat-fish-and-chips

The fish was perfectly cooked so it practically fell apart, and the homemade tartar sauce was every bit as good as the homemade ketchup – clearly the Devonshire Cat know to knock up a cracking sauce!

The only slight disappointment were the mushy peas, which had somehow managed to set – these were mushy peas that were seriously missing the “mushy!”

But, non-mushy peas aside, this is huge, tasty meal that’s guaranteed to please the fish and chips fan in your life.

Finally it was time to check out the dessert menu, and although I don’t have much of a sweet tooth one thing on the menu did catch my eye – the rice pudding!

This is a proper oldschool dessert that you don’t often see on menus, plus it was absolutely freezing outside, and what better way to warm up than stuffing yourself with some piping hot rice pudding? So even though I had serious doubts about whether I had any room for dessert, I ended up ordering what our waiter later confirmed was the biggest, stodgiest pudding on the menu. Whoops!

The Devonshire Cat’s rice pudding is served with homemade plum and honey jam, topped with honeycomb pieces (£4.50). According to the menu, all the honey is supplied by the Sheffield Honey Company – it’s always great to see pubs and restaurants sourcing ingredients locally!

Let’s just get one thing out of the way first – I love rice pudding, but there’s no denying that it looks like frogspawn, so even with the best will in the world, this is never going to be the most photogenic of puddings!

dev-cat-rice-pudding

But, photography woes aside, the Devonshire Cat’s rice pudding tastes fantastic. I particularly loved the plum and honey jam, which struck a perfect balance between sweet and tart. My only complaint is that there just wasn’t enough jam for such a huge portion of rice pudding – I wanted more!

When I’d first spotted rice pudding on the menu, I’d been particularly excited at the prospect of trying honeycomb – in my head I’d been picturing those big chunks of straight-from-the-beehive honeycomb that you sometimes see suspended in jars of posh honey. Turns out I was on completely the wrong track, as the honeycomb that arrived was more like honeycomb toffee. As someone who has more than their fair share of fillings, chewing my way through this incredibly tough, sticky honeycomb was a bit of a nerve-wracking experience, but it was tasty enough to risk losing a filling or two!  

Rice pudding is pretty stodgy to begin with, and this is a massive portion, so just a friendly warning: only order this if you’re seriously hungry!

My friend had opted for something equally seasonal: pumpkin pie with pistachio brittle, homemade marshmallows, and Bradwells vanilla ice cream (£4.75).

Unlike my rice pudding, this dessert definitely had the ‘wow’ factor!

dev-cat-pumpkin-pie

Not only did this pie look great, but the pastry was light and crumbly, and the pumpkin filling had a lovely velvety texture, making this a winning dessert.

All in all, I love the Devonshire Cat’s new menu, particularly since they’re not content to serve the usual staples; even putting their own spin on all-time pub grub classics like fish and chips (which the Devonshire Cat serve in Absolution batter).  

This is also a very seasonal menu that’s perfect for the colder months, so if you do find yourself in the city center on a cold day (perhaps you’re doing some panic-stricken, last minute Christmas shopping?) then I’d definitely recommend making the whole experience less painful by treating yourself to some warming food at the Devonshire Cat.

four-stars

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Owlerton Stadium – Sheffield’s Top Night

October 4, 2016 at 9:11 am | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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A few weeks ago I reviewed the new menu at Napoleons casino on Ecclesall Road, and it seems like a theme is emerging as this week I got invited to Owlerton Stadium to try some food, bet on some greyhounds, and generally celebrate the venue’s rebrand as ‘Sheffield’s Top Night.’

The event started at 6pm, and we arrived at 5:50pm expecting to be the first people there, only to find a queue of eager ticket-holders already forming in the car park. Clearly Owlerton Stadium is popular Saturday night spot!

Once we’d finally worked our way to the front of the queue, we were shown to the venue’s Panorama Restaurant which offers fantastic views over the dog track.

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The whole restaurant is designed to pull you into the races happening below – as if the view over the track wasn’t enough, there’s also numerous television screens mounted around the room that cycle through a mixture of close ups, action replays and photo finishes of each race.

The Panorama Restaurant is enormous, but by the end of the night the place was absolutely packed with people having a great time. I was also surprised by just how diverse the diners were – everyone from families with children in tow, to senior parties, to younger people who were clearly on a Saturday night out, dressed up and ordering bottles of fizz. This great mix of people only added to the atmosphere.

The Panorama Restaurant itself has a fun, informal feel – this may have had something to do with the fact that many of the diners were wearing fuzzy dog ears, which the staff were handing out at the door. If there’s anything better than spending your Saturday night in a room full of people wearing furry dog ears, then I haven’t discovered it yet!

owlerton-dog-ears

As I’ve mentioned in pretty much every one of Napoleons’ reviews, gambling isn’t really my thing, but towards the end of the evening I did find myself getting caught up in the atmosphere and couldn’t resist having a flutter on a few dogs whose names made me chuckle (always the best approach if you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing). I can confirm that I’m about as successful at picking a winning greyhound as I am at roulette, so sadly I didn’t make my fortune on this particular evening.

You eat at the Panorama Restaurant as part of a very reasonable package deal, which includes 3 courses, a table overlooking the dog track, and even a tote runner who pops by your table before each race and offers to place your bets for you – because no-one wants to get up halfway through a 3 course meal in order to go stand in a queue!

When it comes to the food, the Panorama Restaurant specialises in unpretentious grub – it’s not fancy, but it’s enjoyable. Case in point, my starter of potato and leek soup with thyme and garlic croutons.

owlerton-potato-soup

This is a lovely winter warmer that manages to be rich and creamy without being too stodgy, and the croutons went heavy on the garlic, which I loved.

My dining companion opted for an equally no-nonsense starter, in the form of Yorkshire puddings covered in Henderson’s onion gravy.

owlerton-yorkshire-pudding

The Yorkshire puddings were nicely cooked, which was a relief because I’ve ordered several Sunday roasts recently and the Yorkshire puds have always been black around the edges – this certainly wasn’t the case with Owlerton’s Yorkshire puds!

But the Henderson’s gravy was what really made this starter special. This gravy had a really unique, tangy aftertaste that’s utterly addictive, to the point where I’ve made it my mission to replicate this Henderson’s gravy at home. Wish me luck!

Onto the mains and I had opted for the mushroom, pumpkin and chickpea cottage pie with cheddar mash.

owlerton-veggie-shepherds-eye

This cottage pie is pure comfort food, especially the mash which tasted strongly of cheddar. The filling was also really tasty, with a good amount of mushrooms and chickpeas, although I struggled to taste any pumpkin in my pie.  

All in all, this was a lovely veggie cottage pie, and it was nice to see a vegetarian option that’s something different from the usual nut roast, veg wellington or vegetarian tart.

Each main course is served with a selection of vegetables and potatoes. When I ordered my cottage pie, the waitress had asked whether I was a vegetarian, and then explained that the regular side of vegetables and potatoes isn’t actually vegetarian friendly, so they’d need to make me a separate portion. The fact that the veg isn’t vegetarian friendly isn’t mentioned anywhere the menu, which I feel is a bit of an oversight, as there’s all kinds of dietary requirements that may mean finding bacon mixed in with your veggies isn’t going to be a pleasant experience.

The side turned out to be cauliflower and broccoli covered in cheese, shredded cabbage, and a helping of roast potatoes.

owlerton-veg-and-potato-side

I’m pretty partial to cauliflower cheese, but this is the first time I’ve ever encountered broccoli cheese. Turns out it’s even tastier than cauliflower cheese, so this is something else I’m going to have a go at replicating at home (thanks for the inspiration, Owlerton Stadium!)

The roast potatoes were very nice too – strongly seasoned, crispy on the outside but light and fluffy on the inside, just like all good roasties should be.

And if you’re interested, the non-veggie version of this side is more of the same, but with bacon bits mixed into the vegetables.

Meanwhile, my friend had opted for the slow roasted belly pork, which was served with braised red cabbage, apples, and a port and rosemary sauce.

owlerton-belly-pork

The portion of roast pork was absolutely enormous, and had a strong rosemary flavour, while the red cabbage and apples complemented the pork perfectly. The only criticism is that my friend would have preferred their crackling to be a bit crunchier.

Onto dessert, and I couldn’t resist ordering the sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel sauce, while my friend was tempted by the plum and almond tart, which came with clotted cream ice cream.

Strangely, both of us took a bite of our puddings and instantly had that horrible realisation that, even though there was technically nothing really wrong with either pudding, we’d ordered something that simply wasn’t to our taste. Whoops!  

Rather than wasting two puddings, we swapped plates and realised that, actually, we both preferred the other person’s pudding way more than our own. Disaster averted!  

The high point of my I-really-should-have-ordered-this-instead plum and almond tart, was easily the ice cream, as the clotted cream gave it an extra richness.

owlerton-plum-and-almond-tart

Meanwhile, the sticky toffee pudding may not have been the greatest looking dessert in the world (and I did try my hardest to get a good shot of it) but my friend enjoyed the taste, which is all that matters.

owlerton-sticky-toffee-pudding

Since I’d visited Napoleons just a few weeks before, it’s difficult for me not to compare the two – and there’s one stark difference. Whereas Napoleons’ restaurant clearly sets out to stand on its own, at Owlerton Stadium it’s impossible to separate the food from the greyhound racing.

Everything from the restaurant’s layout, to the tote runners, to the fact that the lights are turned off at the start of each race, seems designed to pull you into the greyhound racing, to the point where there’s no way you’d visit Owlerton Stadium if you didn’t intend on placing at least a couple of bets throughout the night.

If you enjoy a few cheeky bets in general or greyhound racing in particular, then Owlerton is a really fun night out. The atmosphere is fantastic, and during this particular Saturday the whole venue was packed with people having a fantastic time. The food was also enjoyable, especially considering the price (3 courses for £15 is great value, even without the added entertainment) and I enjoyed everything except my original pudding.

If you’re planning a trip to Owlerton Stadium, then you should really look into booking yourself a table at the Panorama Restaurant.

Three and a half stars

 

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