The Wig and Pen

June 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 3 Comments
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Drinking in the afternoon is one of life’s greatest pleasures, so when we spied a ‘brunch and all you can drink prosecco’ voucher (£15.95) for The Wig and Pen, we wasted no time printing it out before the owners came to their senses and took the offer down. Needless to say, we were excited about this one, especially since we’d had such a fantastic meal at affiliated eatery The Milestone the previous week.

From the outside, The Wig and Pen looks nothing special: it’s a stumpy huddle of buildings in the heart of Estate Agent District (aka Campo Lane.) Inside, it’s far nicer than expected: the interior is all light wood, big windows and ‘swanky wine bar’ atmosphere.

A friendly waitress escorted our party to a table, where we promptly pulled out our voucher and she sped off to fetch the first (of many) rounds of bubbly. Fully expecting to be brought a bottle, we were disappointed when she returned with a tray of glasses. We couldn’t help grumbling, convinced that we’d struggle to attract the staff’s attention when it was time for glass number two (and three, and four) and the ‘all you can drink’ boast was just a conspiracy. If something is too good to be true, then it probably is. It turns out we were just being cynical – despite our waitress also ferrying plates of bulging Sunday lunch to a large party directly behind us, she always found the time to top our glasses up. Far from making us feel self-conscious about burning through the bottles, she was very friendly, and jokingly gave us a running total of how much we’d drank. The Wig and Pen’s staff really are second to none – polite, attentive and friendly. Even better, the prosecco they’ve earmarked for this offer is perfect for afternoon drinking, morish without being too sweet.

Eventually we got around to ordering some brunch dishes to mop up all that fizz. The menu is in the same vein as The Milestone’s, so if you’re partial to the grub at one of the venues, then you’re guaranteed to like the other. Picky eaters beware, The Wig and Pen’s menu is far from extensive, but each dish has been concocted with a keen eye for detail, with a heavy focus on unusual combos. That said, the brunch menu is particularly restrictive. There’s a posh cooked breakfast but beyond that, if you don’t like poached eggs and hollandaise sauce then you’re going to go hungry. Poached egg fans can choose from double eggs benedict, double eggs royal or double eggs florentine, all priced at a reasonable £5.95.

Thankfully, we’re all fans of the humble egg at Sheffield Eats, so we had no issues with the narrow menu. I plumped for Double Eggs Royal, which consisted of two stodgy English muffins layered with wilted spinach and slabs of the strongest, saltiest and most mouth-watering smoked salmon I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with. Topped off with two perfectly-cooked eggs and lashings of creamy hollandaise sauce, the portion size may have looked mean, but I’d learned my lesson about the richness of The Milestone/The Wig and Pen’s food, and took it slowly this time.

The eggs were perfectly cooked, with a little runny yolk still in the centre; the spinach was wilted but not falling apart, and the smoked salmon was so thick, it was more like a fillet. The Wig and Pen’s Double Eggs Royal is one of the richest meals I’ve ever eaten and, combined with the sheer strength of the smoked salmon, it was impossible for me to finish. I’d recommend treating this brunch dish as your lunch – it would take a stronger stomach than mine to polish off this plate of loud flavours and calorific sauce before noon.

Also arriving at the table, were a couple of portions of Double Eggs Benedict, which basically replaced the wedge of smoked salmon with a chunk of bacon. The bacon had more in common with gammon than the usual fatty supermarket stuff, and everyone at the table agreed The Wig and Pen’s bacon is in a league of its own.

The food may have been impossible to fault, but we did have an issue with the live acoustic jazz performer who is apparently a regular fixture on Sundays. For the first fifteen minutes or so, the speakers were turned up far too high. With the large party behind us all shouting to make themselves heard above the blaring music, it wasn’t the quiet, relaxed brunch we’d envisioned. Thankfully, The Wig and Pen twigged there was something wrong and had turned the volume down by the time the performer returned for his second set, and we could hear ourselves think again.

To round off the afternoon, we took our final glasses of prosecco outside and made the most of a sudden burst of sunshine in The Wig and Pen’s cobbled outdoor area. Set in a courtyard with no traffic and few passers-by, it’s an unexpectedly quiet haven in the centre of town, and the ideal place to escape the crowds and while away a sunny afternoon (if this rain ever stops….)

Full enough to pop and well into our third bottle of prosecco thanks to the attentive waitress, we raised our glasses to one of the best (certainly, the most tipsy!) brunches we’d had in Sheffield. The food, service and venue itself are flawless and, after they’d toned down the music, we could properly relax and enjoy our boozy brunch. Obviously cut from the same cloth as The Milestone, The Wig and Pen has all the same great qualities, and with a more convenient, city centre location to boot.

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Yama Sushi

May 13, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 3 Comments
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Sushi is definitely in our list of Top 10 Favourite Foodstuffs at Sheffield Eats HQ. But, pick up a box of ready-made sushi on your lunch break and you’d better have some notes in your wallet: it doesn’t come cheap! So, when we heard rumours of a sushi restaurant located on London Road that was – shock – reasonably priced, we had to find out if the legends were true.

Yama Sushi doesn’t look much from the outside, or to be fair, from the inside, either. The handful of tables are squashed together, so there’s a very real danger of bumping elbows with the person at the table next to you. Our party were shown to a table at the back of the room and we squeezed into our seats. Not a great first impression, but all that changed when we were handed the menu. Wow! This place has the most exhaustive and exotic sushi menu I’ve ever seen, and all the rumours about the prices are true.

The only thing the Yama Sushi menu lacks is a mixed sushi platter, you can only order a type of sushi by the plate full, which typically means 6 pieces. It’s worth pulling up the menu online and doing a little research before visiting, so you don’t end up ordering a big plate of something you don’t like. As there were a few members in our party, we decided to treat ourselves to a long list of different dishes, and then share the bounty between us. This works out as an inexpensive option if you’re dining in a large group, and means you get to sample types of sushi you wouldn’t normally order.

We started our meal with a selection of sashimi: salmon (£2.30) prawn (£2.50) tuna (£3.20) and scallop (£3.00) to be precise. These are served in pairs and are the perfect way for sushi lovers to take the next step and try some sashimi. The portions are extremely generous, especially the tuna sashimi, which turned out to be a thick wedge of dark tuna atop a formidable chunk of rice. Also on order were Yama Dragon Rolls (£7.90) an unusually crunchy take on sushi thanks to some delicious tempura batter.

On a roll now, we ordered some Sake and Avocado Maki (£6.00) which was layered with creamy avocado and succulent fresh salmon – quite simply the tastiest sushi I’ve ever had! This geneous eight-piece portion was polished off in no time, and we couldn’t resist ordering another plate of the stuff.

Although it’s not the first thing to jump off the menu at a sushi restaurant, Yama Sushi’s edamame beans are well worth a whirl. The bowl of steamed soy bean pods, perfectly seasoned with salt, was a surprise hit at our table.

If you’re not a sushi fanatic, Yama Sushi offers a range of cooked meals, too. The Tofu and Vegetable Udon (£6.50) is a fragrant blend of crunchy bamboo shoots, mushrooms, carrots, spring onions, tangy seaweed, miso soup noodles and some of the best tofu I’ve ever tasted. Of course, it can’t stand up to the restaurant’s sushi.

When eating out, it’s often the drinks that bump up your bill, but at Yama Sushi the staff bring you a teapot of green tea as soon as you take your seat, and are only too happy to keep topping it up with fresh leaves and hot water throughout your meal, all at absolutely no charge. They even provide traditional Hohin cups, a nice touch that really makes the meal feel authentic. If you fancy something stronger, Yama Sushi has a limited drinks menu, but they do serve red, white and rose wine at a reasonable price, I ordered a glass of rose for £3.

Yama Sushi has some stiff competition from its London Road neighbour WasabiSabi but, despite the more polished surroundings of the larger WasabiSabi, Yama Sushi’s bargain prices and the sheer freshness and tastiness of its generously-sized sushi portions, means it really is the best place to get sushi in Sheffield. If you like sushi, you really need to visit this place – go on, you deserve it!

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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