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).

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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!

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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

Fanoush

August 1, 2015 at 8:49 pm | Posted in Takeaway | Leave a comment
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Fanoush is one of those places I went to once, enjoyed, vowed to go back to soon…..and then just never got around to it.

Fast-forward two years (seriously, how did that happen?!) and I was browsing the World Wide Web for some takeaway inspiration when I noticed that at some point during the last few years, Fanoush has started doing home deliveries. Instantly, I vowed to forgo my usual greasy Chinese takeout in favour of a healthy Fanoush falafel wrap.

If you’re not familiar with Fanoush, then it’s a vegetarian falafel salad bar that you can find both on London Road and in the city center on Pinstone street. The menu is deceptively simple, offering a choice of salad boxes or a falafel, halloumi or feta wrap – and that’s it.

Okay, so this may sound like the most boring takeaway on the face of the Earth, but things get much more exciting once you’ve chosen your wrap, as you then get to choose exactly what combination of sauce, veggies, pickles and other assorted bits and pieces you want to add to said wrap. And to sweeten the deal, most of these extras won’t cost you a penny! Even if you do opt for one of the very few items with a price tag attached, these will only set you back 50p, or 75p at the most.

The one time I actually visited Fanoush in person, I loved the experience of working my way down their salad bar, pointing out exactly what I wanted adding to my wrap. Since I was ordering online, I was unsure whether I’d get the same level of choice, but Fanoush do a really good job of replicating their in-store experience.

When you place an order online, the first step is choosing what kind of wrap you want (I opted for falafel and houmous, £3.75), followed by the size of your wrap (I went for 10 inches, but if you’re feeling more restrained you can go with 6 inches), the type of houmous (Jalapeno houmous) and sauce (chilli sauce).

Then comes the fun part: choosing all the added extras!

After much deliberation I went with cucumber, gherkin pickle, mixed peppers, onions and tomato, with halloumi (75p) and aubergine (50p).

Ordering takeaway from somewhere new always feels like a bit of a gamble. Are they going to deliver on time? What if they get lost and can’t find my house?

Turns out the driver did get a bit lost, but even though I had to give him directions over the phone for the last leg of the journey, he still managed to deliver the food on time, so Fanoush are certainly prompt with their delivery!

When I took my falafel wrap out of the bag, first impressions were good as it felt pretty heavy, but only when I cut my wrap in half and took a peek inside did I realise just how much good stuff Fanoush had crammed into my sarnie.

fanoush falafel chilli

There’s lots going on here, but since Fanoush bills itself as a falafel bar, I’ll start with the falafel.

Falafel is one of those things that’s deceptively simple, but can actually go really wrong. There’s nothing worse than crunchy, over-cooked falafel – except perhaps wet falafel, or greasy falafel that’s been cooked in too much oil. Blergh! But I’m happy to report that this falafel bar got their falafel just right.

All the veggies I’d added to my wrap were fresh and crunchy and the halloumi had a nice texture, although I do prefer my halloumi on the stronger, saltier side. Fanoush’s milder halloumi ended up getting a bit lost amongst all the other flavours that were going on in my wrap.

And speaking of the other flavours – wow! The dual heat from the chilli sauce and jalapeno houmous was intense. I love spicy foods and have built up quite a tolerance over the years, but this combination of chilli sauce and jalapeno houmous had me breaking out in a sweat. The chilli sauce in particular had me reaching for a big gulp of water inbetween each bite – and I loved every minute of it.

If you love your spice, then give Fanoush’s chilli sauce and jalapeno houmous a whirl. It’s guaranteed to satisfy even the most hardened chilli enthusiast.

And the big bold flavours just kept on coming, as Fanouh’s pickled gherkin turned out to be incredibly, eye-wateringly sour. Who said healthy vegetarian takeaway had to be boring? My Fanoush creation was bursting with flavour, thanks to those super-sour pickles and punishing chilli sauce.

I wasn’t dining alone, as my friend had ordered Fanoush too. They’d opted for an equally super-sized 10 inch falafel wrap, with halloumi and coriander houmous (£5.00) plus tzatziki sauce and an assortment of veggies (onions, red cabbage and olives) and pickles (jalapeno and gherkin pickle).

fanoush falafel tzatziki

The houmous and falafel were every bit as good as in the first wrap, and all the veggies were fresh and crunchy. The only sticking point was that hardly any of the requested tzatziki sauce had found its way into the wrap, which meant the whole thing was a bit on the dry side.

The lack of sauce was really strange considering how the first wrap was practically dripping with chilli sauce. Maybe on this particular day Fanoush were just running low on tzatziki? This wrap was still very tasty and filling, I just wish they’d been a bit more generous with the sauce.

Since I’d waited so long before repeating my one and only Fanoush experience, I hadn’t been too sure what to expect. Would their falafel be as good as I remembered?

Fanoush didn’t disappoint. Although the menu is simple, the freedom to pick and choose every ingredient that goes into your wrap more than makes up for that initial lack of choice.

And there’s another major plus to getting your Friday night takeaway fix from Fanoush – it’s just so cheap! Fanoush’s wraps start at a very reasonable £3, which is less than you’d pay for some pre-packaged sarnies.

In the end a pair of 10 inch, freshly-made wraps with our choice of sauce, houmous, veggies and pickles came in at exactly £10 – and Fanoush didn’t even charge for delivery! I’ve ordered a fair few takeaways in my time, and Fanoush’s takeaway is incredible value for money.

If you want a takeout treat without the guilt, then I can highly recommend some Fanoush falafel action.

four-stars

Las Iguanas

May 24, 2014 at 4:48 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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With Sheffield enjoying a three-day heat wave recently, it was too nice to sit indoors – in other words, it was beer garden o’clock! However, after the beer garden high, comes the inevitable post-beer munchies. After an afternoon of sitting in the sun, me and my beer garden partner in crime were in the mood for cuisine from a warmer climate, so the Latin-themed Las Iguanas seemed ideal.

Las Iguanas is situated in the swanky West One Plaza, which is basically a courtyard dedicated to my two favourite pursuits: eating and drinking. On this sunny Saturday afternoon, West One Plaza was packed with people swigging cold beverages, eating good food, queueing outside LOL Bubble Tea, and generally enjoying being outside without shivering/getting rained on. It almost seemed a shame to be heading indoors, even if it was to enjoy some tasty grub.

This was my first ever visit to Las Iguanas, and initial impressions were good. It’s a light, airy venue, with a carnival feel thanks to all the bright colours – from the mosaic tables and funky, patterned furnishings; to the shiny red bar trimmed with LED lights; to the wall covered in a hodgepodge of multi-coloured picture frames. Las Iguanas also pull a clever trick with a mirrored wall, which makes the place feel much bigger than it actually is.

Las Iguanas

We were greeted by a very friendly member of staff, who offered us the lunchtime and the evening menu – oh, and would we like to see the vegan and vegetarian menu, too? In most restaurants, veggies are lucky if they get three meals to choose from, and vegans usually get even less. Las Iguanas may not immediately spring to mind when you think about veggie and vegan-friendly venues, but it actually has one of the most impressive vegan/vegetarian menus I’ve encountered in a “mainstream” restaurant. Many of the dishes are gluten free, too.

Obviously, there’s some overlap between menus. The lunch menu is pretty much just a pared-down version of the dinner menu, and the vegan and vegetarian menu is the dinner menu, with the meat and seafood removed. But, even with all this duplication, you’ll still be completely spoilt for choice.

The trio of menus covers all those tried-and-tested favourites – quesadillas, fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, patatas bravas, and chilli con carne, to just name a few. Or, if you fancy trying something new, there’s dishes that make use of more unusual ingredients, such as plantain, truffle salsa, palm hearts, and a very intriguing-sounding peanut and crayfish sauce.

In the interests of trying as much of this massive menu as possible, we decided to share some starters. After much deliberation, we narrowed our selection down to the Tip Top Chipotle Whitebait (£4.50), and Calamares (£5.70).

Our food order was taken by one of the friendliest waitresses I’ve ever met, who wasted no time drawing our attention to the 2-for-1 offer on cocktails, something we hadn’t previously noticed. In light of this revelation, it only seemed fitting to order some cocktails. When it comes to booze, Las Iguanas doesn’t disappoint: they provide choice, and lots of it.

The cocktail menu includes all the usual suspects you tend to find in restaurants, but it also features some more exotic concoctions, such as a Columbian Cafe, Bronx Bebida, and a Jam Slam. In the end, we settled on a pair of Long Island Iced Teas (£6.75 per glass, or 2-for-1 Wednesday-Sunday, before 7.30 p.m).

Long Island Iced Tea

Our matching pair of Long Island Iced Teas tasted every bit as good as they looked. They had a refreshing lemon sting, and packed a boozy punch – exactly what you want from a Long Island Iced Tea.

Our starters arrived shortly after, which was a good job, because these Long Island Iced Teas were strong. The Calamares is a portion of whole baby squid, tentacles and all, coated in crispy batter. Don’t let the long, curly tentacles put you off; they actually pack a satisfying crunch and give you the chance to really appreciate that salt-and-pepper batter. The meatier, non-tentacle parts of the baby squid were juicy, and not in the least bit rubbery.

The Calamares came with a creamy dip, which had a subtle, spicy afterburn. The squid was delicious on its own, but this dip really sealed the deal. I suddenly regretted agreeing to share the starters!

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The Tip Top Chipotle Whitebait was covered in a very light, almost flaky batter, and the whitebait themselves were nicely cooked. However, the accompanying dips missed the mark: the sour cream was too thin, and the salsa lacked any kind of kick. We had to resort to the bottle of Cholula on the table; a few splashes of this bottled hot sauce delivered more flavour than the salsa and sour cream combined.

Whitebait

Onto the mains, and despite the hot weather, I hadn’t been able to resist the curry on Las Iguanas’ menu. The ‘Bahia Moqueca’ promised a creamy coconut curry, served with plantain, spicy aji and toasted coconut farofa sprinkles, plus spring onion and garlic rice. Las Iguanas can make your Bahia Moqueca with fish and peeled prawns (£12.95) or squash, palm hearts and spinach (£10.95). Despite my love of seafood, I’d never had palm hearts before, so I went with the veggie option.

As soon as I caught sight of my food, I knew I was in for a treat. Las Iguanas’ Bahia Moqueca is a meal of two halves; the first is a plateful of chunky aji, toasted coconut sprinkles, sweet and sticky plantain, and garlic and spring onion rice.

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The second part of the meal, is the curry itself.

Bahia Moqueca

Based on the menu’s description, I was expecting the Bahia Moqueca to be similar to a korma or maybe even a Thai green curry, but it was so much better than either of those. The sauce tasted strongly of coconut, but it also had a sour edge to it. This lingering, sharp aftertaste was an unexpected, but very welcome surprise. As much as I enjoy pigging out on creamy curries, the richness of the coconut can become overpowering after a while. The Bahia Moqueca’s tartness helped to keep things fresh and interesting. If you love coconut, or have a soft spot for sour flavours, then this is the meal for you!

The palm hearts that convinced me to order the vegetarian Bahia Moqueca in the first place, turned out to be almost completely tasteless. However, they did have a really different, woody texture, and the rings of palm heart looked fantastic floating on top of the curry, so I can understand why Las Iguanas included them in the Bahia Moqueca.

When it came to the extra bits and bobs that arrived with my Bahia Moqueca, my favourite was the aji, which reminded me of a chunky, homemade salsa, only it was vinegary, rather than spicy. The plantains were sticky and gooey, and brought a burst of sweetness to the Bahia Moqueca. However, the garlic and spring onion rice just tasted like coconut. I enjoyed the creamy rice, but I found it strange that I couldn’t taste any garlic or spring onion at all.

The Bahia Moqueca is easily one of the best meals I’ve had recently. It was so good that, despite Las Iguanas’ massive menu, it’ll be tough to resist ordering this again on my next visit!

The other main meal winging its way to our table, was everyone’s favourite Mexican street food; the Burrito. At Las Iguanas, burrito lovers have a choice of fillings: garlic mushrooms and vegetarian chilli (£9.95); smoked chipotle chicken (£10.95); or barbeque and jalapeno shredded steak (£10.95). My dining companion opted for the shredded steak.

Steak burrito

The burrito was a good size, especially considering the steak filling, and it came with a few of Las Iguanas’ added extras. On the upside, this meant more of that tongue-tingling aji and rich rice, but unfortunately it also saw the return of the bland sour cream and chipotle sauce combo.

The burrito itself was jam-packed with steak, which fell apart in a way not dissimilar to pulled pork. Despite enthusing about the tenderness of the steak, my dining companion didn’t get any hint of cheese or jalapeno, both of which appeared on the menu. They were also surprised that the burrito contained nothing but shredded steak and refried beans – no tomatoes, rice, onions, peppers, or any of that other good stuff you usually find in burritos (or maybe the Great Gatsby has spoiled us, when it comes to burritos?)

Las Iguanas deserve top marks for the venue, the friendly and helpful staff, and the sheer scope of their cocktail and food menus. Any venue where you’re handed three different food menus on your way in, is off to a good start. Las Iguanas also strike a good balance between unusual dishes, and crowd-pleasing classics. Although we weren’t completely sold on the steak burrito, the calamari and curry were both fantastic, and there’s plenty of other dishes on the menu that I can’t wait to try. We’ll definitely be back!

four-stars

The Orchid

July 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Restaurants, Takeaway | Leave a comment
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If you fancy some exotic cuisine, then London Road has you covered: Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Turkish – food from the four corners of the globe can be found on this humble Sheffield street. Tonight, we fancied a spot of Thai and, feeling adventurous, we opted for somewhere we haven’t been before: The Orchid.

Inside, The Orchid is all red and gold, with plastic orchids lined up in the window. The decor is more traditional (read : dated) than modern oriental eateries like Sakushi and WasabiSabi, but it’s also spacious, well-lit and clean, so we weren’t put off by the tired decor. Feeling authentic, we ordered a round of Singha beers while we perused the food menu. The waiter inquired whether we’d like large bottles – “why not!” we said. A word of caution: these gigantic bottles come with an eye-watering price tag of £5.50 a bottle, something we weren’t aware of at the time. Although you get plenty of beer for your buck, I personally resent paying over a fiver for anything that comes in a bottle, and isn’t champagne or wine.

Ravenous, we ordered a vegetarian mixed starter to share (£6.95) that consisted of mixed vegetable tempura, veg spring rolls and sweetcorn cakes. This battered platter arrived with a refreshing amount of greenery on the side, including some carved carrot, shredded cabbage, a mint leaf, and a crisp salad soaked in deliciously fiery ginger.

The salad in its hot dressing was soon polished off, and we both raved about the tempura batter, which wasn’t in the slightest bit greasy. The grease-free spring rolls were packed with veggies, and the sweetcorn cakes were an unusual combo of juicy sweetcorn and crunchy peanuts. With a trio of dips thrown into the mix – sweet chilli, minty vegetables, and a creamy coconut-based curry sauce – the sweetcorn cakes, salad and spring rolls disappeared in double quick time. However, the mixed vegetable tempura divided opinion. There was a good selection of battered veggies; whole florets of broccoli and cauliflower, as well as slices of carrot and entire button mushrooms, but I found them a bit tasteless for my liking, and had to ladle on the dipping sauce. Thankfully, there was more than enough sauce to add extra flavour to the veg tempura. At the other end of the table, it was a completely different story, as the tempura won rave reviews.

In the mood for something spicy, we ordered two red curries, one with tofu and vegetables and one with beef, which came in at a rather pricey £7.95 each. To complete our mains, we ordered a helping of delicious-sounding steamed thai fragrant rice (£2.10) and egg fried rice (£2.25). Our curries arrived nicely presented in bubbling pots on top of a candle, and I could already spot a good selection of vegetables – chilli, mushrooms, carrots and bamboo shoots. Finished off with a sprinkling of herbs, the curries looked, and smelt, wonderful.

Despite being advertised with a “two chilli” rating, the red curries didn’t pack any serious kick and had the creamy richness of a korma. While I would have prefered something hotter, the rich sauce went down well, and the vegetables were still a little firm which gave them that satisfying crunch, especially the beans and bamboo shoots.

The meat equivalent was bulked out with plenty of beef, and got a big thumbs up from our reviewer, as did the egg fried rice. Meanwhile, I was left wondering what made my thai fragrant rice so special, as it tasted exactly the same as plain old boiled rice. It also should be noted that at a tenner a pop, this curry and rice main is very expensive for the amount you get. Those expecting to come to The Orchid for a curry and be full, are going to be disappointed.

To cap off our thai feast, we ordered some ice cream, which was served in retro-tastic fashion, complete with colourful sprinkles and a slice of chewy waffle. It was just enough, and the oldschool presentation was very cute.

The grub at The Orchid comes in slightly stingy portions, but there’s no skimping on quality and taste. It’s the sort of place where the tempura isn’t a heaped plate of defrosted, deep-fried pureed veg, but a handful of carefully-selected fresh vegetables. A little on the pricey side and a little dated in terms of decor, but our three-course thai feast was consistently tasty, with quality, fresh ingredients used throughout. Just remember to bring plenty of cash with you, and book in advance because this place gets busy!

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