The Wick at Both Ends

April 17, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 6 Comments
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Let me start by saying that I’d no intention of writing about the Wick at Both Ends again (or at least not until their next menu change) but sometimes, a meal is just so good, you can’t resist raving about it. So, following a too-good-not-to-shout-about meal at the Wick with some friends this week, I’m spreading some more Wick at Both Ends love.

After branching out and trying something new on my previous visit, this time I couldn’t resist ordering my old favourite, the Wick’s mushroom burger (£7.95). I wasn’t alone, as two of my friends couldn’t resist the burger menu either, and opted for a pair of beef burgers (£7.95 each).

Whether you’re a beef or a mushroom fan, burger lovers can mix things up with a range of additional toppings, all priced at an extra 95p each. All of the Wick’s burgers come with homemade relish and some seriously chunky chips.

First to arrive at our table, was a double act of beef burgers.

Wick beef burger with bacon

My first burger-loving friend opted for an extra topping of two rashers of bacon (a snip at 95p) and creamy farmhouse brie (again, 95p more). These fillings were so good, they deserve their own close up.

Wick at Both Ends burger

As already mentioned, all the Wick’s burgers come with chips and homemade relish. The chips are chunky enough to be wedges, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and served in a cute little bucket, while the relish is wonderfully rustic, with that strong tang of fresh tomato, and a spicy kick. Exactly what you want when you’re tucking into a burger!

My second burger-buddy opted for a Y-Fenni Mustard Ale cheese topping (yep, you guessed it, an extra 95p). This cheese had a fiery mustard flavour, although apparently they struggled to taste the ale, which was a bit disappointing.

Wick beef burger

Finally, my mushroom burger arrived – and I can confirm that it’s still pretty much my favourite burger ever. Sometimes, when a restaurant offers a veggie burger, they simply swap the meat patty and fillings for a veggie-friendly patty, but the Wick is one of the few establishments that treats the much-maligned veggie burger as a meal in its own right, rather than just an “alternative” for those who don’t eat meat.

The Wick’s veggie burger takes the form of a whole field mushroom smothered in crunchy celeriac and cabbage slaw. This is the sort of creamy, rustic slaw that’ll have you swearing off shop-bought condiments and Googling “homemade coleslaw recipe” – probably before you’ve even finished your burger! The Wick aren’t stingy with the slaw either, so keeping it inside the burger is bit of a challenge, but it’s well worth the trouble.

Basically, I love everything about this burger.

Wick mushroom burger

But, this Wick trip wasn’t just about pigging out on gourmet burgers and chips, as the final meal arriving at our table was a very intriguing-looking roast cauliflower and broccoli dish, served with a quinoa, radish, almond and new potato salad (£7.95).

Roast cauliflower, broccoli and quinoa salad

The cauliflower did have some burnt edges, but thanks to that deliciously nutty, slow-roasted flavour, this didn’t matter – apparently even the blackened bits were tasty! Who knew the humble cauliflower could taste so good?

Not content with taking one everyday vegetable to the next level, this salad also does something special with shooting broccoli. The shoots were tender, juicy and perfectly cooked, so my friend couldn’t decide which she enjoyed the most: the broccoli or the cauliflower (and how often do you hear someone debating that?)

The quinoa was fluffy, the almonds were toasted and tasty, and the new potatoes brought some satisfying starch and carbs to the meal. These rather random-sounding foodstuffs turned out to be the perfect combination of textures and flavours.

The whole thing was finished off with a dollop of cauliflower puree. Like the roasted cauliflower and broccoli, this vegetable puree is far nicer than it sounds, and is further proof that you can do wonderful things with even the most boring, everyday veggies. The only complaint was that the portion of puree was too small. More, please!

If you fancy a change, this unusual salad is definitely worth a spin. I’d enjoyed my goat’s cheese and beetroot salad during my previous visit, but this looked far more substantial. I’ll definitely be trying this cauliflower, broccoli, and quinoa salad for myself in the future!

The Wick at Both Ends never fails to impress. If you haven’t been yet, then to put it simply: you’re missing out on a great venue, great cocktails, and some truly first class food!

4 and a half

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Henry’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Henry's beef burger

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

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

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

rating-3-star

Spotlight: Real Ale Trails

December 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Posted in Features | Leave a comment
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REAL-ALE-TRAIL

Launched at Sheffield’s very own MADE Festival this year, Real Ale Trails is on a mission to introduce even more people to the wonders of Sheffield-produced real ale (not to mention that old favourite: a pie and pea supper!) by organising tours that take in some of Sheffield’s fantastic local breweries and pubs. We caught up with Real Ale Trails co-founder Austin Macauley, to find out what makes Sheffield the real ale capital of Britain and to get his recommendations on some of Sheffield’s top local pubs…

Can you give us a short intro to Real Ale Trails?

Austin: Real Ale Trails is all about building on Sheffield’s growing reputation for great pubs and local ales by making it easier for people to experience what the city has to offer. We take people around some of the best watering holes, sample lots of local ale and introduce them to people who have helped turn Sheffield into Britain’s beer capital.

What inspired you to create Real Ale Trails?

Austin: Every week there seemed to be something new happening in Sheffield – a pub brought back from the brink of closure and refurbished, new breweries opening, local ales winning awards. We just felt there was an ‘ale experience’ that could be created out of so many great pubs and breweries – and were surprised no one else was already doing it. Although things have improved, the UK still doesn’t make enough fuss about its real ale scene. If this was France the world would never stop hearing about it…

What can people expect when they join one of your tours?

Austin: A typical itinerary will involve a brewery tour, visits to 4 or 5 pubs across Sheffield, pie and peas at one of the stops, a drink at every stop along with lots of samples of local beer. Better still, it’s a trail with minimal walking – just hop on and off our mini bus at each destination. Perhaps when the weather’s better we’ll incorporate a bit more walking. It’s a great way to celebrate a birthday, unwind with colleagues on a works do, make new friends and network.

What do you think makes Sheffield such a great destination for the real ale enthusiast?

Austin: It’s the range of pubs and beers on offer. We’re fast reaching the point where it’s odd to find a pub that hasn’t got real ale on offer, and more often than you’ll find beer that’s locally brewed. There aren’t many (perhaps any) other cities that can say that. There are now something like 14 breweries in the city. It creates a snowball effect: the more people see local ale in pubs, the more they expect to see it (and demand it). All the breweries we talk to are flat out trying to keep up with demand.

As real ale enthusiasts, you must know your way around Sheffield’s pub scene! Can you recommend some little-known gems that we should be visiting?

Austin: They’re not exactly hidden gems and are known to many, but here are a few that don’t always get the plaudits they deserve: The Harlequin on Nursery Street; New Barrack Tavern on Penistone Road; The Blake Hotel in Walkley; and The Hillsborough Hotel.

And finally, what are you plans for Real Ale Trails in 2013?

Austin: Other than running as many tours as possible we’ll be adding new pubs and breweries to our growing list of destinations. We may even branch out to nearby towns and villages to see what they’ve got to offer.

You can find out more about Real Ale Trails at www.realaletrails.co.uk

Cross Scythes

October 14, 2012 at 11:47 am | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Approaching the Cross Scythes on Baslow Road in Totley, it’s impossible to miss the ‘Sheffield’s Number 1 Gastro Pub’ banner proudly wrapped around the building. A heady accolade, and a little digging reveals this establishment was not only a finalist for Favourite Pub in the 2011 Eat Sheffield awards, but in the 2010 awards too. So, how’s it faring in 2012?

From the outside, the Cross Scythes ticks all the boxes: it’s a pretty, olde-worlde stone building with outdoor seating around the front and the back, and meticulously pruned greenery adding to the quaint, country pub vibe. Inside, the Cross Scythes has plenty of rural charm, but with a refreshing modern twist – think lots of dark wood, amber lighting and black-and-white prints of the local area back in the good ol’ days, but with a swanky cocktail menu and staff immaculately turned out in white shirts and black ties bringing the place bang up to date. It’s not a million miles removed from the ‘rustic wine bar’ atmosphere of the Wig and Pen.

As we were visiting on a weekday afternoon, we had no problems finding a seat. In fact, a quick head count revealed that the total number of occupants didn’t even stretch into double figures (and that’s including the staff!) If you like a bit of atmosphere with your meal, you’re better off visiting during peak times – from the looks of it, the Cross Scythes doesn’t do much trade during the day.

Undeterred, we got stuck into the drinks menu. Unsurprisingly, booze is pricey at the Cross Scythes – the price of spirits and wines in particular is eye-watering. By comparison, the cocktails are roughly the price you’d pay in town, so we opted for a couple of Long Island Iced Teas (£5.90) Our drinks came nicely presented in tall glasses with a fruit garnish and, despite the reasonable prices, they packed quite a punch. The Cross Scythes aren’t stingy with their measures, even when you’re ordering something that contains half the bar, like a Long Island Iced Tea. Definitely a cocktail worth checking out, if you fancy something potent with your meal.

Starving, we ordered a side of bread, olive oil and vinegar (£1.80) and requested it to be sent out as a starter rather than a side order. Our waiter was only too happy to oblige, and within a few minutes a big platter of bread arrived at our table. For £1.80, the Cross Scythes spoilt us with three different types of homemade bread: a light, fluffy sliced bread, a weighty brown roll, and a few slices of toasted bread, which arrived at our table still warm. As someone with a taste for sharp flavours, I was disappointed that the oil and vinegar arrived as an already-mixed portion in a little pot on the side. However, a few minutes later our waiter returned with the oil and vinegar bottles, and told us to help ourselves. Perfect! At £1.80 this is an absolute steal, and an impossible-to-fault side order/makeshift-starter.

We were still working our way through the delicious homemade bread when the mains arrived. For me, it was the Tomato Risotto with pine nuts, rocket, parmesan and a drizzle of tangy balsamic vinegar (£8.75) with added smoked salmon (an extra £2)

When it comes to presentation, the Cross Scythes is absolutely faultless.

More familiar with stodgy cream-and-mushroom risottos, I was pleasantly surprised by how light and refreshing this risotto was. The tomato gave the rice a fruity, fresh flavour I wasn’t expecting from a risotto, not to mention a beautiful colour. Topped off with a splash of green rocket, this dish is a real treat for the eyes.

The pine nuts gave the risotto a nice crunch, but the real star of the show was the smoked salmon. For an extra two quid, the Cross Scythes had flaked a good quantity of delicious smoked salmon into my rice, and a forkful of this salmon, mixed up with refreshing tomato and crunchy pine nuts, was absolutely delicious. Despite being full, I couldn’t stop myself cleaning my plate – and then taking some of the bread from the platter and mopping up the dregs of the risotto sauce, just to make sure my plate was doubly clean. A surprisingly light rice dish that tastes every bit as good as it looks. Highly recommended.

Also arriving at our table was a truly gourmet cheese burger (£9.75) served with Sheffield’s own Henderson’s Relish, real dripping chips, and chunky tomato chutney, on yet more homemade bread (those Cross Scythes bakers have been busy!)

Although dubious about paying just short of a tenner for a burger, when it arrived the price tag made perfect sense. The burger was a thick patty of melt-in-the-mouth meat that had a consistency more like steak than a processed burger, and was pink and juicy in the middle, topped with homemade-looking chutney. A slice of strong cheese and a slosh of Henderson’s Relish, not to mention some fresh salad and the homemade bread cob, made for a truly five star take on a fast food favourite.

The side of chips was almost a meal in itself. As they’re cooked in dripping, they were saltier and greasier than your average chip, but then, you don’t order dripping chips if you’re trying to be healthy!

The Cross Scythes is one of the pricier local eateries, especially if you like a tipple with your grub, but this becomes a moot point when you take into account the swanky, gastro pub atmosphere, the quality of the food, attentiveness of the staff and, of course, the escape-from-the-hustle-and-bustle location. A trip to the Cross Scythes feels like a real treat.

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