Hope and Anchor

September 24, 2016 at 10:42 am | Posted in Cocktail Bar, Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Did you know that Anchorage in West One Plaza is being relaunched? We’re talking a new interior, new menu and even a new name.

This was news to me, as a few weeks ago I popped into Anchorage for Sunday lunch and everything seemed normal, but then I walked past a few days later and the whole place was shut up, with a new sign hanging above the door. Apparently Anchorage is no more – say hello to Hope and Anchor.

I have to say, the last few times I visited Anchorage I wasn’t completely wowed by the menu. I initially fell in love with Anchorage for their amazing tuna niçoise, and a friend of mine still raves about the hanger steak Anchorage used to serve when they first opened. Sadly, both of these meals vanished from the menu at some point, and Anchorage never replaced them with anything that quite lived up to those two great meals – so perhaps it was time time for a change!

This post is going to be a bit different from the usual, as I was invited to a preview of Hope and Anchor’s upcoming menu, which involved eating lots of scaled-down, canapé versions of their mains and light bites, rather than ordering off the regular menu.  

I didn’t even plan on blogging about this event, but after going through all my photos from the night I realised this was actually a pretty good introduction to Hope and Anchor, so I wanted to do more than just share a few snaps on Twitter. Hopefully, these little snippets will help you decide whether you want to try out Hope and Anchor’s menu for yourself.

When we visited, Hope and Anchor were still midway through revamping the interior, but it was already clear that the new, darker colour scheme makes the venue feel much cosier. It reminded me a lot of sister venue the Wick at Both Ends, which to me has always felt like the perfect autumn pub. I can picture myself enjoying some mulled wine or cider in Hope and Anchor once the cold weather starts to set in.

hope-and-anchor

Hope and Anchor’s menu seems to be about providing as much choice as possible, as you can order every main course as either a fully-fledged main or as a smaller “light bite” if you’re not that hungry. You can also order any of Hope and Anchor’s light bites individually as a snack or starter, or you can order several light bites and create your own tapas-style spread (3 for £10, or 5 for £15).

Over the course of a few hours, I got to sample canapé versions of several of Hope and Anchor’s light bites and mains. While this means I didn’t get to try anything off the menu as you’d typically experience it, it did give me a good overview of what Hope and Anchor’s menu is all about.

First up, was a sample of one of Hope and Anchor’s light bites: celeriac pakora, apple and mango chutney (£3.50).

celeriac-pakora-apple-and-mango-chutney

Just a few weeks ago I had the best celeriac mash at Napoleons, so I was excited to see another place embracing my new favourite vegetable. Hope and Anchor’s mini celeriac pakoras didn’t disappoint, as they were packed with flavour. I also loved the accompanying sweet, sticky mango chutney which complimented the nuttiness of the celeriac pakoras perfectly. I definitely want to try the full-sized version of this!

The second light bite was bresaola, fig chutney, and hazelnut dressing (£5).

bresaola

I’d never heard of bresaola before, but turns out it’s air-dried, salted beef. I don’t eat meat, but my dining companion said they enjoyed the bresaola, although they weren’t overly keen on the fig chutney, which was a bit too sweet for their liking.

Onto the mains, and I got to sample a mini portion of fish and chips (well, technically just the fish part of fish and chips) which was served with pea purée and tartar sauce (£10.95).

fish-chips-pea-puree-tartar-sauce

I’m not usually a massive fan of battered fish, so I wasn’t expecting to really enjoy this – turns out I loved it! The batter was light and grease-free, which is always a plus as there’s nothing worse than wet, slimy batter.

The piece of fish inside the batter was also pretty much spot on – tender, meaty and very tasty. This canapé was finished off with a dollop of pea purée, which had one of the most intense pea flavours I’ve ever experienced, and was all kinds of delicious.

When I’m handed a menu, fish and chips is typically the last thing I want to order, and even when I treat myself to chippy tea it’s all about the chips and curry sauce, hold the battered cod. However I enjoyed this taster of Hope and Anchor’s fish and chips so much, that I wouldn’t rule out ordering the full version of this at some point in the future.

The next main was one of Hope and Anchor’s veggie-friendly options: roast sweet potato, apple, brie stack, cauliflower and romesco sauce (£12).

roast-sweet-potato-apple-brie-stack

Unlike the fish and chips, this sounded like something I’d definitely order, but it actually turned out to be my least favourite out of everything I got to sample, as all I could taste was sweet potato. I struggled to find any hint of the brie, apple or romesco sauce, which was a shame because this combination of flavours sounds like perfection! It’s possible that this main just didn’t translate properly to miniature, and the ratio of ingredients was off, so I’d be willing to give this another go. 

Jumping from the veggie-friendly option to something that’s definitely not veggie-friendly: the rib eye steak and mushroom ketchup, which according to the menu is usually accompanied by chips, baby gem and roast tomato (£22).

rib-eye-steak-mushroom-ketchup

If you like your meat on the rarer side, then this steak was perfection – juicy, tender and very pink in the middle. The mushroom ketchup had a really earthy, concentrated mushroom flavour, which you’re either going to love or hate.

But I’ve saved the best until last: blackened cod with giant couscous and pak choi (£12.95).

blackened-cod

This was amazing! The blackened cod had a smoky, almost charcoal flavour that had me craving more from the very first bite, and was served on a bed of giant couscous.

I’m a massive fan of all things grain and grain-like: couscous, quinoa, rice, bulgur, orzo, I love it all, so I was always going to enjoy this. The person I was dining with is the exact opposite: they hate couscous, to the point where initially they didn’t even want to try the blackened cod. However, this taster completely changed their mind, to the point where they said this was something they’d choose to order!

You know a meal is good when it manages to win over someone who was expecting to hate it.

Looking beyond this selection of mains and light bites, Hope and Anchor’s menu includes quite a few other things that I can’t wait to try: goat’s cheese risotto; seafood linguine with market fish, shrimp and clams; rice pudding with stewed autumn fruits, and a baked blackberry cheesecake with poached apples. Don’t those two desserts just sound like the perfect winter warmers?

While it’s difficult to judge a restaurant based on what’s essentially canapés, I left Hope and Anchor convinced that I need to return and try the new menu properly. This menu seems like a huge improvement on Anchorage’s last few menus, although I am a bit sad that Anchorage’s Mac and Cheese burger hasn’t survived the transition to Hope and Anchor.

All in all, an exciting peek into a new(ish) restaurant, and I can’t wait to experience a few of my favourite canapés in their full-sized glory – starting of course with that blackened cod and giant couscous!

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Wick at Both Ends

May 22, 2016 at 5:43 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Big changes are afoot at the Wick at Both Ends. Although I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few Wick menu launches, this is probably the most dramatic menu change I’ve ever seen from the Wick at Both Ends.

Not only is their new menu completely different (more on that in a moment) but after chatting to some of the Wick’s staff it became clear that their opening hours and kitchen staff are different, too. The Wick no longer opens during the day Monday-Friday, and as someone who doesn’t work the traditional Monday-Friday, 9-5, that makes me pretty sad. Secondly, they have a completely new kitchen team, which may explain why the new menu is so, well, new.

I didn’t get the chance to look at the Wick’s latest menu in advance, so I was a bit surprised when I arrived and was handed a single-sheet menu divided into Snacks, Bar Bites, Small Plates and Sweets – not a main course in sight!

Since the Wick have done away with main courses completely, this also means that the day has finally come: they’ve taken their goat’s cheese and flat field mushroom burger off the menu, which was my favourite. This makes me sadder than it probably should.  

We decided to start by seeing what the Bar Bites were all about. I went for Spiced Hummus, Sumac and Flatbread (£3.50).

wick at both ends hummus

This is fantastic value for money – just look at all that hummus! If you’re feeling peckish after one too many Wick cocktails, then this would be perfect to order for yourself, or you could even share it with a friend as there’s more than enough hummus to go around.

Despite being described as “spiced hummus,” I didn’t find this particularly spicy, so I do wish the hummus packed more of a punch! Interestingly, the hummus seems to have been made with peanut butter, as it has that thick, smooth and distinctly peanut butter texture. This made it the perfect consistency for spreading on the accompanying slices of bread, which had been toasted to crunchy perfection.

This is a seriously filling, and very tasty snack, with more than enough hummus and bread to share, if you’re feeling generous.

My friend went for Bacon Jam, Apple and Sourdough (£5.00).

wick at both ends bacon jam

The bacon jam was seriously salty, but that worked well with the refreshing, crisp slivers of green apple. Once again, this is great value for money, and for a humble bar snack, it was really nicely presented.

We also wanted to see what the Small Plates were all about, so we ordered a round of these, as well. My friend picked the Blade of Beef, Enoki Mushroom, Onion and Dashi (£7.00), and once again the Wick deserve top marks for presentation!  

wick at both ends blade of beef

Randomly, the onions were the best thing on this plate, which may have something to do with the dashi. Dashi isn’t something I’m familiar with, but according to good old Google it’s a Japanese broth that forms the basis of miso soup (yum, yum) which might explain why these onions were so strong, and so delicious.

For the price, there was a good amount of beef on the plate, although my friend said the beef was a bit more well done than they’d have liked.

For my small plate, I’d gone for the Sea Trout, with Camomile Butter, Sorrel and Leeks (£7.00). Yet again, the Wick put that little extra bit of effort into their presentation.

wick at both ends sea trout

The trout was cooked to perfection; it was tender and juicy and fell apart the second I cut into it. The accompanying camomile butter had melted into an indulgent, flavour-packed sauce. Even better, the trout and leeks had been sat soaking in this sauce, so they’d absorbed all those delicious, buttery flavours. The leeks in particular were melt-in-the-mouth soft and oozing with yummy melted butter. Why can’t all veggies be served in lashings of camomile butter?

My only complaint is that there isn’t an option to have the trout and leeks as a main meal, because I’d devour a full-sized portion of this!

The latest menu from the Wick doesn’t feel so much like a new menu, as it does a new direction for the Wick at Both Ends. The Wick may have been serving tapas-style small plates for a while now, but it’s always been alongside more traditional main meals, and the focus on nibbles and bar snacks is completely new.

This menu seems to be designed to tempt you into ordering some snacks to go with your drinks, rather than getting you to book a table and head to the Wick for dinner. As someone who’s prone to the beer munchies, I can imagine nipping into the Wick for a few drinks and being tempted by a few things off the Snacks and Bar Bites section, particularly since it’s such good value for money.

It’s also nice to see a restaurant being more experimental with their nibbles, because there’s only so many times you can share a bowl of chips, onion rings, or nachos with toppings, before you start craving something a little bit different.

Not going to lie though, I wish they’d kept that burger!

rating-3-star

Tapas Revolution

April 13, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Hands up if you remember the La Tasca that used to be in Meadowhall? I spent many a happy afternoon there back in the day, using their legendary ‘Tapas for a Tenner’ offer as an excuse to eat as much patatas bravas as I could get my hands on, washed down with a few cheeky glasses of sangria.

So when I got an invite to check out the new Tapas Revolution restaurant that’s just opened in Meadowhall’s food court, it made me feel pretty nostalgic and excited to relive my Meadowhall-and-tapas years.

Now I’m not much of a Meadowhall fan – I wouldn’t even hazard a guess when I last paid a visit to everyone’s favourite Sheffield shopping centre, but the food court isn’t how I remembered it at all. My memories of the Oasis are all plastic McDonald’s trays and jacket potatoes in squeaky styrofoam containers, so I was surprised to see so many new restaurants in the Oasis, including a few I’d have been tempted to pop into if we didn’t already have a table booked at Tapas Revolution.

After wandering around for a bit, we discovered Tapas Revolution on the second floor of the Oasis. It’s a nice, modern looking eatery with an enclosed seating area that makes it feel separate from the rest of the food court, so it has more of a ‘restaurant’ vibe.

Despite the fact that we were visiting Tapas Revolution during their opening week and at an odd time (2.30pm on a Monday afternoon, to be exact) there were quite a few people eating there, which is always a good sign.

Taking a look at the drinks menu, I saw that Tapas Revolution offer the usual vino, cider and sparkling wine – plus, what would any self-respecting tapas restaurant be without sangria? Tapas Revolution also serve a very tempting-sounding homemade saffron lemonade that you can order with your choice of gin or vodka, which sounds like the perfect thirst-quencher if you’ve had a particularly tough day of shopping.

In the end, we went with a bottle of house white wine at £15.95, which is pretty reasonable considering you’re always going to pay a premium for food and drink in Meadowhall.

But our Tapas Revolution trip wasn’t just an excuse to drink at lunchtime (although that was an added bonus) we were here to try some tapas as well! There’s really only one way to enjoy tapas: order a bunch of dishes and then share them between the table, so that’s exactly what we did.

I barely had the chance to tuck into my pre-tapas nibbles of bread and alioli dip (£1.95) before the tapas started to arrive. First up was something that no Spanish feast should be without: patatas bravas (£3.95).

patatas bravas

Patatas bravas is my favourite tapas so I was really looking forward to this one, and Tapas Revolution didn’t disappoint. The potatoes were on the al dente side, which gave them some nice added crispiness and bite, served in a rich and fiery tomato sauce topped with lashings of cooling aioli.

I feel like patatas bravas is the thing everyone orders when they go out for tapas, but sometimes patas bravas can be a bit boring, to the point where it’s really just potato wedges served in a terracotta dish. This definitely wasn’t the case here, as Tapas Revolution served up the best patatas bravas I’ve eaten in ages. I’ll definitely be ordering this again!

The second tapas to make its way to our table was gambas al ajillo (£6.50), aka juicy tiger prawns dressed in garlic and chilli oil.

gambas al ajillo

The oil was very light but packed with flavour. I was glad I hadn’t had the chance to finish off my pre-tapas bread, as it was just the thing for polishing off every last drop of this delicious chilli and garlic oil.

Continuing the seafood theme, next up was some very exotic-sounding Buñuelos de marisco (£4.75) also known as prawn, cod, mussel and potato fritters.

bunuelos de marisco

Tapas Revolution didn’t skimp on the seafood, which was a pleasant surprise considering things like potato are sometimes used as a cheaper, filler ingredient. Although I loved the strong seafood taste, I wasn’t overly keen on the texture so out of everything this is the one thing I probably wouldn’t order again.

Things quickly got back on track with another tapas from the ‘Seafood’ section of the menu, this time a portion of steamed octopus with potatoes and pimentón paprika (Pulpo a la Gallega, £6.95).

pulpo a la gallega

The potato and octopus were covered in that light, flavour-packed oil that Tapas Revolution do so well, but this time with the addition of lots of smoky paprika.

Like the patatas bravas, the potatoes were on the al dente side, but the best thing about this dish was the steamed octopus which was served complete with skin and suckers. While this might be a little unnerving for some, it did give the octopus a unique texture and consistency, not to mention a much stronger taste, which I loved. This is a must-try if you’re a seafood fan who isn’t squeamish about the thought of eating octopus that still looks like octopus.

We did order some meat inbetween all the seafood, in the form of Chorizo a la sidra (£5.50).

chorizo a la sidra

This is spicy sausage roasted in cider – doesn’t that just sound like the perfect winter warmer? I don’t eat meat, but my dining companion confirmed that both the chorizo and the cider sauce were seriously spicy, so this isn’t food for the faint-hearted.

We finished things off with some lightly-battered, peppery calamari (£5.50).

calamares fritos

For tapas, this is a large portion that’s perfect for sharing. The calamari came with a lemon wedge plus another helping of Tapas Revolution’s creamy aioli sauce. These were the perfect accompaniments, and there was more than enough calamari to put both the lemon and sauce to good use.

But the feast didn’t end just because we’d polished off the final helping of tapas. Throughout the meal, I’d been eyeing up the second part of the Tapas Revolution experience: a takeaway churro bar on the other side of the food court.

This is a genius idea, as not every Meadowhall shopper is going to be in the mood for a sit-down tapas feast, but surely a cone full of churros and chocolate dipping sauce is something everyone can enjoy?

So after we’d eaten all the tapas and drunk all the wine, we nipped across the walkway to grab a cheeky portion of churros and sauce. I’d completely demolished mine before I’d even made it out of the food court!

churro

These churros were grease-free and crunchy on the outside, but light and fluffy on the inside – just as all good churros should be! The accompanying chocolate sauce had a lovely, silky texture and actually tasted like freshly-melted milk chocolate, rather than heated up chocolate spread or sauce from a packet (yuck!)

If you’ve had a hard day of shopping and fancy a sweet treat, then definitely stop by Tapas Revolution’s churro bar. It’s quick, tasty and something a little bit different from the donuts and super-sized cookies every other vendor seems to be selling in Meadowhall.

And if you’re in the mood for something a bit more substantial, then Tapas Revolution serve up some pretty tasty tapas, including the best patatas bravas I’ve ever eaten and delicious (if a little frightening) steamed octopus.

The only downside for someone who isn’t really a big Meadowhall fan is that I wish Tapas Revolution were based in the city center, so I didn’t have to catch the train for my tapas/churro fix!

four-stars

Revolution

August 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 2 Comments
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Located in the snazzy West One Plaza, Revolution may make you think of vodka shots (in thirty homemade flavours, no less) rather than food, but one look at the menu shows Revolution have some serious food ambitions. Sunblushed tomato, asparagus and pea linguine, summer mezze board platters, and plenty of pricey tapas – no bargain beer and a burger deals here! So, keeping an open mind, we headed to Revolution for a midweek treat (and a few midweek voddies, of course!)

Inside, Revolution Sheffield is an aircraft hanger of a place, with floor-to-ceiling windows, shiny wooden surfaces, oceans of room between the assorted tables and booths, and an ultra-modern bar of LED lights and glittering booze-bottles. Decor-wise, it feels like a trendy nightclub – not your usual venue for a spot of supper. Keeping an open mind, we settled into a booth and ordered a round of mojitos (£6.50) which tasted too much of soda water, but we ploughed ahead, slurped down our cocktails and ordered some tapas to start: homemade potato wedges with dips (£4.95.)

The chunky potato wedges arrived with the skins on, just the way we like them, but the accompanying sour cream dip was strangely runny and tasteless – disappointing. Thankfully, Revolution redeemed themselves with the sweet chilli dip, which had a fierce kick. As a spice fan, I scrubbed the sweet chilli bowl clean, but if you can’t take the heat you might find the sweet chilli dip a painful ordeal.

Appetites duly piqued, we wasted no time ordering our mains, which arrived in double-quick time. My Salmon and King Prawn Linguine (£8.95) looked promising, as I was presented with a bowl full of linguine and creamy sauce, topped with a generous portion of smoked salmon.

The white sauce was refreshingly light without skimping on taste and, mixed up with a forkful of linguine and assorted veg (firm asparagus, fiery rocket and peas to be precise) it was delicious. The smoked salmon was the highlight for me, delivering a hit of seriously strong, salty deliciousness, but I was disappointed by how overcooked the king prawns were.

On the whole, a flavour-packed dish of perfectly-cooked veggies, a light but tasty sauce, and plenty of seafood, although at £8.95 Revolution are definitely being cheeky with their prices. To put it into perspective, my linguine was roughly the same price as a vegetarian pasta dish or Spaghetti Ragu at Strada.

Since we were in a vodka bar, we just had to sample Revolution’s special vodka glaze, and ordered the intriguing Revolution Vodka Pizza (£7.95). This thin and crispy pizza wasn’t mean with the toppings: chorizo, goat’s cheese and mozzarella with sweet chilli peppers, fresh rocket and the aforementioned vodka-glazed chicken, finished off with a drizzle of tart balsamic vinegar. Thin pizzas are easy to overcook, but the Revolution staff avoided this pitfall and sent out a perfect thin and crispy pizza. The vinegar drizzle in particular was a clever touch, giving the pizza extra bite.

Which brings us neatly onto the bill, and our major issue with Revolution – the price. Not only is the food expensive, but the steep booze prices bump up the bill even further. Even if you stick to pints all night, expect to feel the pinch. The surroundings are top-notch and the food is tasty with a few quirky options on the menu and quality ingredients used throughout, but there’s no escaping the fact that Revolution feels like the sort of place you’d pop into for a bite to eat on a whim, rather than somewhere you’d book in advance and look forward to – and the prices don’t reflect that. Good food, modern surroundings, but ultimately, the cheque was a bit of a stinger!

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