Rhubarb and Mustard

May 2, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Walking down Ecclesall Road a few months back, I was surprised to see that Smith and Jones is no more, and in its place is a new restaurant: Rhubarb and Mustard.

Once I got home, I wasted no time looking up their website and found a sample menu packed full of unusual ‘gastro pub’ style ingredients such as nettle puree, blood orange gel, squid ink puree, and honeycomb and pistachio dukkah. Rhubarb and Mustard’s menu isn’t a million miles removed from the Wig and Pen, or the Milestone. I love both of these restaurants so I knew I had to give Rhubarb and Mustard a try.

It was a rainy weekday evening when I finally made it to Rhubarb and Mustard. Despite the fact that it was a school night and a miserable, drizzly evening to boot, there were quite a few people tucking into delicious-looking Rhubarb and Mustard grub, which is always a good sign.

Me and my friend fancied something to snack on before our main meals, so we decided to share a starter. The waiter took our order and then immediately returned with some complimentary homemade breads and dips, which were delicious and vanished in no time at all. A freebie is always appreciated, especially when it’s this tasty!

bread and dip

When our starter arrived, it became clear that Rhubarb and Mustard is the kind of restaurant that serves small, perfectly formed portions rather than food that’s going to leave you stuffed. The Salt and Pepper Squid (£7) was a lot smaller than I’d been expecting.

rhubarb and mustard squid starter

Despite feeling pretty conspicuous, sat there sharing such a small plate of food, the salt and pepper squid was fantastic. The squid was perfectly cooked, so it was really tender and juicy, and the batter was light, crumbly and had a delicious salt and pepper taste.

The squid was served with a Thai-inspired slaw that had a satisfying crunch, a light and zesty creme fraiche, and a handful of cashew nuts. The whole thing was finished off with a helping of homemade sweet chilli jam that had a serious kick, and worked really well with the cooling creme fraiche.

Sure, for £7 this isn’t a lot of food, but this is definitely a case of quality over quantity, so the salt and pepper squid feels like it’s well worth the £7. I would order this again – I just wouldn’t order it to share, as there’s not nearly enough salt and pepper squid to go around.

Onto the mains, and me and my friend committed the cardinal sin of food blogging and ordered the exact same thing. Not ideal when you’re checking out a restaurant for the first time, but neither of us could resist Rhubarb and Mustard’s incredible-sounding Scallop and Crab Burger (£17).

rhubarb and mustard scallop and crab

Straight away, I’ve got to say that £17 is a lot to pay for a burger, but one bite and I was in a seafood lover’s paradise! The burger patty tastes like pure scallop and crab meat, with no filler, and is possibly one of the strongest and most delicious seafood-based things I’ve ever tasted.

And the big flavours continued as the patty was topped with a salad that’s pretty much all coriander. There was also a sprinkling of coriander on top of the brioche bun, finely-sliced coriander on the chunky chips, and flakes of coriander scattered across the plate, just for good measure. Pretty much every mouthful had coriander lurking in there somewhere, so don’t order this if you’re not a coriander fan!

The crab and scallop patty is served in a tasty brioche bun and comes with two sauces: a vegetable relish that was a bit on the bland side, and a fiery sriracha chilli that I just couldn’t get enough of. This is the kind of chilli sauce that you suspect might be doing your tastebuds some permanent damage.

This scallop and crab burger is all about those big, bold flavours: from the searing chilli sauce, to the seafood burger patty, to the great big handfuls of coriander that seem to be lurking in every bite. This is the kind of burger you’ll either love or hate. I love strong flavours, so this was right up my street, although it wouldn’t hurt Rhubarb and Mustard to cut back on the coriander.

Would I pay another visit to Rhubarb and Mustard? Yes but only for a special treat, as the prices are on the steep side. Rhubarb and Mustard is one of the more expensive eateries on Ecclesall Road, but the higher prices make sense considering their gastro pub-style menu.

If you’re a fan of venues such as the Milestone and the Wig and Pen, then you’ll definitely want to check out Rhubarb and Mustard.

rating-3-star

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KOKO

April 24, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Over the past year or so, there’s been a bit of a sushi explosion in Sheffield with no fewer than four new sushi restaurants opening across the city: KOKO, Let’s Sushi, Sakura House, and the Revolving Sushi and Noodle Bar.

Sadly, Sakura House on Eccy Road almost immediately relaunched as Yep Yep Hot Pot before closely down completely, so I never got the chance to find out whether it was any good. But last week I decided to branch out from Yama, Edo and Sakushi, and try one of Sheffield’s three new(ish) sushi restaurants.

KOKO is a compact but very smartly decorated restaurant on Ecclesall Road that has the sleek, modern feel of Sakushi – which is no surprise considering it’s owned by the same guy who launched Sakushi.

koko

I’ve got to admit that I decided to visit KOKO after spotting that they were offering a free shot of Japanese whisky to all diners on Twitter – everyone loves a freebie, right? However, after showing us to our table the first thing our waiter did was offer us a complimentary glass of prosecco. I leapt at the chance for a free glass of fizz, but my friend had their heart set on sampling some Japanese whisky so they asked whether they could have the shot of Nikka instead. At this point we were told this wasn’t an either-or offer, he was offering us free prosecco in addition to the complimentary whisky.

Apparently if you dine at KOKO before 6.30pm on any day of the week, then you get a free glass of prosecco, and if KOKO happen to be running another drinks-related freebie then you’re in luck, because you’re entitled to that too. The only catch is that on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday KOKO doesn’t open until 6pm, so if you’re dining on any of these days you’ll need to be quick off the mark in order to qualify for the free prosecco.  

After that nice surprise, it was time to take a look at the food menu. Compared to other Sheffield sushi restaurants like Yama and Sakushi, KOKO’s menu is pretty compact, but this is understandable considering KOKO is a much smaller venue. While KOKO do offer a few mixed sushi and sashimi platters, the focus is more on cooked mains such as noodles, Katsu curry and fish served in various Japanese sauces, rather than sushi and sashimi.

Since the menu is on the smaller side, it took me no time to decide that I wanted to order the Salmon Fillet in Black Pepper Sauce (£14.95), but just to complicate matters the person I was eating with wanted a starter. To avoid being left twiddling my thumbs while they enjoyed their first course, I decided to order a Miso Soup (£3.50) starter, which includes unlimited refills (score!)

However, when I gave the waiter my order he pointed out that all of KOKO’s ‘Bigger Dishes’ come with miso soup anyway. In fact, they come with miso soup, salad and a choice of rice or noodles. Since my friend was ordering a starter, the waiter kindly offered to bring me the miso soup from my main course at the same time. It’s thoughtful little touches like this that make for really happy customers!

A surprise glass of bubbly, helpful staff, and the promise of a complimentary shot of whisky at the end of the meal – I don’t think I’ve ever had a better first impression of a restaurant!

My miso soup was everything good miso soup should be: strong and salty, with lots of seaweed and big chunks of tasty tofu.

miso soup

I love that KOKO offer unlimited refills of their miso, because I could drink about a gallon of this stuff.

For their starter, my friend opted for KOKO Kimchi Rolls (£5.95).

Koko Kimchi Rolls

These rolls are a tasty blend of tangy kimchi and peppery pork, wrapped in a light and flaky pastry. These are perfect for snacking on before a main meal, and go really well with the accompanying sweet chilli dip.

Onto the mains, and my friend had gone for the special, which on this particular evening was steak and enokitake mushrooms with yakiniku sauce. Like all of KOKO’s main courses, the steak came with miso soup, salad, and a choice of rice or noodles, plus a tangy side of pickled cucumbers and carrots.

The whole thing is served on a tray, which makes for a pretty impressive-looking spread.

steak and enokitake mushrooms

The steak was juicy and tender, pretty much melting in the mouth, which contrasted nicely with the chewy enokitake mushrooms – plus, steak and mushrooms is just a winning combination, right?

The rest of the platter is packed with different flavours – from the saltiness of the miso, to the tartness of the crunchy pickled veggies, and the light and fresh salad. The only exception were the plain noodles, which were completely unseasoned, but it was actually nice to have a break from all the other strong flavours on this platter.

My main course came with the same smorgasbord of sides, although I opted for rice rather than noodles.

Salmon Fillet in Black Pepper Sauce

The rice was perfectly cooked, so it was nice and sticky rather than gloopy. Like the noodles, the rice might have been plain on its own, but it worked really well alongside all the other strong flavours on this platter.

But onto the main star of the show: the grilled, sushi-grade salmon. This salmon was tender, juicy and practically fell apart the second my chopsticks touched it, and it was generously coated in a delicious, tangy pepper sauce that had a hint of teriyaki sweetness to it. Basically, this salmon was perfect and I loved everything about it!

Food dispatched, it was time for our second free drink of the evening. And what’s better than a free drink? Not having to awkwardly remind the staff that you’d like your free drink now, please. As the waiter cleaned away our plates, he asked whether we wanted our shot of whisky yet – he didn’t need to ask twice!

The Nikka was a satisfying, warming whisky with caramel notes that made it really easy-drinking, even for someone like me who usually takes their spirits with a healthy dose of Pepsi Max.

I can’t fault KOKO when it comes to providing value for money. Even without the complimentary prosecco and whisky, the amount of sides that come with each main course means you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. The food was delicious, especially the salmon which is some of the nicest fish I’ve ever eaten, and the staff went out of their way to make sure we enjoyed our meal.

KOKO serves great food, at a great price, with genuinely thoughtful customer service to boot. My advice? Keep an eye on KOKO’s Twitter page for whisky-related special offers, get there before 6.30pm for your free glass of prosecco, and enjoy!

5-stars

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