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

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Revolucion De Cuba

July 21, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Cocktail Bar, Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Revolucion De Cuba is one of those places I used to be obsessed with, to the point where I discovered that you really can have too much of a good thing. Consequently, I had to take a bit of a break from the Mappin Street venue formerly known as Buddha Bar/Bai Hoi.

But after stuffing my face with a tonne of tacos courtesy of Revolucion De Cuba’s all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesday, I’ve rediscovered why I liked Revolucion De Cuba so much in the first place. So I was really excited to attend the launch of their new menu, together with some other Sheffield bloggers and newsy types.

Right off the bat, I’ve got to say that Revolucion De Cuba know how to make a special occasion fun, as we arrived to find our table decked out with funky pineapple glasses and straw hats. Cheesy it may be, but I love this kind of stuff.

Revolucion de Cuba hats and glasses

Glasses donned and selfies snapped, it was time to kick things off with a cocktail from Revolucion De Cuba’s ginormous drinks menu. Even though I had every intention of branching out and trying something new, after reading the menu from front to back I still couldn’t resist ordering the exact same thing I always go for.

Revolucion de Cuba pornstar rumtini

I just love the tartness of this Pornstar Rumtini, as it’s fruity without being too sweet, plus it comes with a shot of sparkling wine on the side, which can only be a good thing.

Since we’re smack bang in the middle of a heatwave, my dining companion opted for a frozen Banana Daiquiri (£7.25). This cocktail comes with a chocolate flake, and the daiquiri itself is so thick and icy that it can support said flake without any issues.

Revolucion De Cuba Banana Daiquiri

This banana daiquiri is pretty much a dream for anyone with a sweet tooth, and it’d make the perfect, refreshing pudding after you’ve finished stuffing yourself with spicy Cuban grub.

As we sipped our cocktails, we were treated to a trio of moreish nibbles: banana chips (£1.50), pork crackling, (£1.50) and spicy mixed nuts (£1.50).

Revolucion De Cuba nibbles

These nibbles are great if you fancy something to crunch on while you peruse the main menu, particularly the pork crackling which is something a bit different from your bog-standard bar snacks.

Onto the hot food, and Revolucion De Cuba brought out lots of tapas, sides and mains for the whole table to share, so brace yourselves because we have lots to cover.

First up was a plate of Smoky Aubergine Quesadillas (£5.00). These quesadillas were packed with lots of yummy melted cheese, and came with a very fresh and homemade-looking tomato and onion salsa.

Revolucion de Cuba quesadillas

For £5.00 this is a filling tapas dish that I can imagine eating on its own as a snack or even as a starter when I’m feeling particularly hungry.

For the meat eaters, there was a main course of Havana Chicken Salad (£9.50). The chicken was tender, juicy and nicely-seasoned but what really caught my eye was the colourful side salad.

Revolucion de Cuba havana chicken salad

This vibrant salad consisted of quinoa, green lentils, peppers, carrots, tomato, cucumber, black beans, edamame beans, yellow beetroot and leaves, finished off with a homemade spinach and kale dressing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a salad that looks quite this good!

Sometimes I feel like restaurants use side salads just to fill up the plate. Not so with Revolucion De Cuba! They’ve clearly gone all out to create a side salad you’ll actually be excited to eat.

This side salad appears in several other main courses and you can even order a ‘Cuban Salad’ on its own, which might just be one of the few occasions I’d actually consider ordering a salad in a restaurant.

This Cuban salad made a repeat appearance at our table, as part of a Baked Halloumi (£11) main course.

Revolucion de Cuba baked halloumi

This main is essentially a super-sized portion of halloumi, marinated in soy and ginger, and then served in a banana leaf with a helping of that awesome Cuban salad.

I’m mad about halloumi anyway, so I was always going to enjoy a main that’s mostly just a massive piece of halloumi, but the soy and ginger marinade gave this particular piece of halloumi a powerful, salty and very distinctive taste. This is easily the best halloumi I’ve ever had.

If you’ve got a soft spot for halloumi or you just love strong, salty flavours, then you need to try Revolucion De Cuba’s baked halloumi. You won’t be disappointed!

Next up was everyone’s favourite Tex-Mex snack: nachos. These Nachos Del Sol (£5.50) take crunchy tortilla chips and cover them in black beans, guacamole, homemade Roquito and Manchego cheese sauce, and chunks of mango.

Revolucion de Cuba nachos

I can’t remember ever having fruit on nachos before, but the mango added a welcome sweetness to this otherwise very savoury snack. I might just have to try sprinkling some mango on top of my own nachos in the future.

The nachos were followed by yet more tapas, in the form of some Iberico Ham Croquettes (£5.50).

Revolucion de Cuba Iberico Ham Croquettes

Apparently Iberico is a special kind of Spanish ham that’s salted and air dried for 12 months (thanks, Google) which explains why these croquettes had such a strong, salty flavour. The Iberico croquettes are particularly nice with a dollop of the accompanying garlic aioli dip.

I was already feeling pretty stuffed, but it turned out there was even more food for us to sample. An entire platter of it, in fact.

Revolucion de Cuba mojo chicken

This was roughly the point where I started to wish I’d been more restrained around that baked halloumi.

The first plate on our platter was sticky glazed Chorizo in a rich red wine and honey sauce (£6.00). This is hearty, comforting tapas with a slight kick to it, and I can imagine this really hitting the spot during the colder months.

Also on our super-sized platter was a side of sweet potato fries (£3.00). Like the halloumi, sweet potato fries are something I love anyway, so I knew I was going to enjoy these – but they were even better than I was expecting!

These sweet potato fries were perfectly cooked: crispy and nicely-salted on the outside, but fluffy and sweet on the inside. They also went really well with Revolucion De Cuba’s homemade rum sauce, which has a nice kick to it, not to mention the kind of freshness you simply can’t get from a supermarket-bought bottle.

Revolucion De Cuba rum sauce

The final side on our mega-platter was House Rice (£2.50). This is something I loved the last time I visited Revolucion De Cuba and it was every bit as good as I remembered, particularly the topping of finely-chopped, crispy fried onions, which were incredibly moreish.

At £2.50 this is another fantastic side dish. Revolucion De Cuba are really getting their sides spot on at the moment.

But the main event was an enormous Half Chicken in Mojo Sauce (£11, with two side dishes). This is a massive portion of nicely-cooked chicken, but if you’re seriously hungry then apparently you can go one step further and order an entire chicken!

This was when the lovely Revolucion De Cuba staff broke the news that there was even more food to come. In fact, we hadn’t even had our main course yet (!) as everyone would be getting the chance to prepare their own burrito.

But what’s the perfect thing to do before trying your hand at a new culinary skill?

Shots, of course!

Revolucion de Cuba rum tasting

Okay so this isn’t as heinous as it looks. This was actually a quick rum tasting session where we got to sample three different rums from Revolucion De Cuba’s extensive collection.

Despite the fact that I’m not a massive fan of drinking anything neat, this turned out to be lots of fun. This is the second rum tasting I’ve attended, and both times I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the range of rum that’s out there, from the painful-to-drink, to the dangerously easy drinking.

Speaking of painful, the first rum (Matusalem Platino) was so harsh that finishing a single measure felt like a major accomplishment. Thankfully it was all uphill from here as the second rum (Ron de Jeremy) was smoother, and the third rum (Gosling’s Black Seal) had a faintly butterscotch aftertaste that I enjoyed so much, I could actually see myself drinking this again!

If you’re interested in checking out what rums Revolucion De Cuba have to offer, you’ll find a complete list at the end of their drinks menu.

Okay, so three measures of rum dispatched and obviously the time was right to try and roll the perfect burrito. This went predictably…..wrong, but at least all the ingredients that went into my sloppily-rolled burrito were good!

Revolucion de Cuba burrito ingredients

In the end, my burrito consisted of refried beans, garlic mushrooms, fried veggies and spring onions, plus generous helpings of sour cream, grated cheese and house rice, so it wasn’t a million miles away from Revolucion De Cuba’s own Mushroom, Bean and Spinach Burrito (£9).

When it came to wrapping my concoction, I discovered that it’s much harder to roll the perfect burrito than you might think, which is why I’m not going to show you a photo of my handiwork. Instead, here’s a photo of my dining companion’s chicken burrito, for the simple reason that they did a much better job than me.

Revolucion De Cuba burrito

And thus concluded our Revolucion De Cuba feast. I left feeling like I’d eaten Revolucion De Cuba’s entire menu, but after consulting their website I realise that I’d barely even scratched the surface.

Revolucion De Cuba’s mammoth menu features tapas, sides, burritos, half and full chickens cooked in a variety of spices, hamburgers, a “fast and fresh” Rapido Lunch menu, a Fiesta Cubana three-course set menu, all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesday, plus a tonne of other main courses that don’t fit neatly into any of the above categories.

With so much choice, you might think that this is a case of quantity over quality, but everything I sampled from Revolucion De Cuba’s new menu was delicious, and there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t order again.

Revolucion De Cuba serve great food and great cocktails, in a lovely venue with some amazing special offers – if you love a bargain then you’ve got to visit them on a Sunday, when it’s 2-4-1 on all tapas and the majority of cocktails.

I can’t think of anything negative to say about this place, so if you have a soft spot for this kind of Cuban-inspired food, or you just love great cocktails, then you should make a point of paying Revolucion De Cuba a visit!

four-stars

The Wick at Both Ends: Spring/Summer 2015

May 4, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | Leave a comment
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This review is long overdue, due to my phone going whappy and losing all my photos – including those I took at the Wick at Both Ends’ new menu launch.

Thankfully my phone is now back up and running, so I can (finally) share my thoughts on the Wick’s new spring/summer menu!

The new menu has the same rustic, gastro pub feel of previous Wick menus, although there does seem to be more meat and fish this time around. The Wick at Both Ends haven’t completely forgotten about vegetarians, though – there are a couple of veggie-friendly mains inbetween all the ox tail and kidney pies, sausage and mash, and butter roasted plaice. There’s also a selection of meat-free sandwiches, plus the Wick’s trusty flat field mushroom and goat’s cheese burger, which has been my favourite thing to order there for years. If the Wick ever get rid of their mushroom burger, I’ll be very sad.

One thing I’ve noticed about the Wick’s menus, is that the starters tend to be more adventurous than the mains. The spring/summer menu is no exception, featuring unusual starters such as pan fried calves liver, pickled mackerel, and pistachio and prune terrine.

One starter that really caught my eye was the warm potted crab (£5.50). I love potted shrimp but I’ve never tried potted crab before, so I knew I had to give this a go.

This is a big starter!

the wick at both ends potted crab

My ramekin was jam-packed with lots of fresh and tasty crab meat that had a lovely, velvety texture. If you’re not a fan of strong seafood then you should probably give this one a miss, as the crab is seriously strong.

My only issue with the potted crab is that it’s just so filling! After I’d used the accompanying slices of bread and butter to scrape up every last morsel of delicious crab, I was left wondering how I was going to find room for my main course.

This is such a generous portion that I think the potted crab would work really well as a stand alone snack – possibly after one too many Wick cocktails have given you a case of the beer munchies!

For a seafood fanatic like myself, this potted crab starter felt like the ultimate treat. In fact, I have a few seafood-loving friends who I’m going to drag to the Wick at the earliest opportunity, because I know they’ll love this starter every bit as much as I did.

For my main course, I continued the fish and seafood theme with some Smoked Haddock Kedgeree (£8.95).

This wasn’t just the first time I’d had kedgeree at the Wick, it was the first time I’d had kedgeree ever, so I was really looking forward to trying something completely new.

The Wick’s vibrant yellow kedgeree is certainly nice to look at.

wick at both ends kedgeree

I’d found the potted crab a bit heavy going, but this kedgeree was even richer. This is another massive portion, and the rice is really rich and creamy. Like the potted crab, this is food strictly for those who enjoy strong, fishy flavours.

Even though I was getting uncomfortably full, I just couldn’t stop eating this. The Wick’s kedgeree really is too good to waste.

Meanwhile, my friend had opted for the 8oz Onglet Steak (£11.50), which was another new addition to the Wick’s menu.

After some Googling it became clear that onglet steak is the same as hanger steak, which they’ve also just started serving at the Wick’s sister venue, Anchorage (if you’re interested, Anchorage’s hanger steak is amazing and you can read about it here).

The Wick’s onglet steak has a really intense, rich flavour. If you like your steak, then you need to try this onglet/hanger cut, as it’s stronger and tastier than your average steak.

wick at both ends onglet

The onglet steak came with a stack of chubby, perfectly-seasoned chips, a super-sized serving of parsley butter, and a token bit of greenery in the form of some grilled baby gem lettuce. These are all pretty standard sides when you order a steak, but then the Wick throw a curveball by adding a single battered oyster to the plate.

The oyster was nicely cooked and had a really intense flavour (this seems to be a theme with the Wick’s new menu!) but there’s no getting around the fact that this is more batter than oyster.

Now, I know that for £11.50 you can’t expect such a fantastic steak, fat chips and a pile of oysters, and yes oysters are always going to look smaller with the shell removed – but this single battered oyster did look a bit odd on its own.

wick at both ends battered oyster

Despite mixed feelings about the battered oyster, the onglet steak was well received, and for the price you do get a big plateful of grub and a superb cut of meat.

The Wick’s latest menu continues the tradition of big portions of quality food at reasonable prices, with a few quirky ingredients thrown into the mix. The starters are on the pricier side, but my potted crab starter was worth every penny.

The Wick is one of my favourite places to grab a bite to eat in the city centre, and judging by how much I loved their kedgeree and potted crab starter, this isn’t about to change anytime soon.

If you haven’t already, you can check out the Wick’s new menu online.

four stars

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

The Wick at Both Ends: Spring/Summer Menu Launch

March 29, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 2 Comments
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When I’m umm-ing and arr-ing over a place to eat, the Wick at Both Ends on West Street always crops up sooner or later. It’s one of those places that always ticks all the right boxes: good atmosphere, lots of comfy booths, nice decor, a large cocktail menu, pleasant staff, and a food menu that has something for everyone. Basically, I love everything about the Wick; so when an invite to the launch of their new Spring/Summer menu arrived in my inbox, I was pretty excited.

Wick fans will be happy to hear that the always-awesome Wick burgers are still present and accounted for on the new menu, and the starters look as interesting as ever, with pork cheek faggots, vegan cheddar, and red pepper sabayon all making an appearance. Since summer is just around the corner (hopefully), salad and fish features more heavily than on previous menus, but the Wick hasn’t completely done away with the comfort food, so on chilly days you can still warm up with mash, roast lamb, gravy, and belly pork.

But, every good meal starts with a drink. We kicked things off with a refreshing Double Grape Martini (£5.75), a summery blend of white wine, vodka and vanilla. This is the ideal light drink to accompany a heavy meal, and it went down very easily. Also arriving at our table, was a Corpse Reviver #2 (£7.00). On the menu, this blend of Portabello Gin, Cointreau, Noilly Prat, and Absinthe is described as “guaranteed to bring you back to life.” The Wick aren’t kidding! This is a firecracker of a cocktail, in a deceptively dainty glass.

Wick at Both Ends cocktails

When you’ve visited a place multiple times, you can fall into the routine of ordering the same thing time and time again (for me, it’s the Wick’s delicious mushroom burger), so I resolved to break out of my rut, and opted for a salad of glazed beetroot with goat’s cheese and pine nuts, in a balsamic vinaigrette (£7.25). This is a “proper” salad, where dressed leaves make up the majority of the dish.

Wick at Both Ends salad

I love goat’s cheese, and the Wick’s is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. This goat’s cheese is like bombs of pure, melt-in-the-mouth indulgence, wrapped in a lightly-toasted exterior. Biting through the rubbery, toasted cheese, into its oozing center, is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Amazing.

The rest of this dish is a salad of mixed leaves, doused in a vinaigrette that gives the salad a tangy edge, and finished off with chunks of beetroot and a teeny sprinkle of toasted pine nuts. The whole thing sits on a bed of beetroot that’s so thinly-sliced, it has a semi-transparent pattern of alternating pink and white bands. The beetroot also has a woody taste and texture, which was unexpected. I love it when places take an everyday vegetable and make it taste like something new.

The goat’s cheese and beetroot salad is a very light dish, with some quirky touches, although I’d have preferred larger portions of the cheese and pine nuts, as these are the ingredients that stand the best chance of filling you up. Overall though, this is a great, summery salad – just don’t order it if you’re ravenous!

At the other end of the table, it was like winter all over again, with a plate full of roast belly pork and bubble and squeak, served with roasted apple, chutney and cider sauce (£8.50). The Wick clearly set out to wow with this dish. Mission accomplished – it looks fantastic!

Wick at Both Ends pork belly

The generous portion of meat was tender and juicy, and the cider sauce was a welcome change from the usual gravy or jus.

The promised bubble and squeak turned out to be a portion of mashed potatoes with some boiled cabbage mixed in, rather than the mash and fried veggies I’d always understood bubble and squeak to be. Despite this, the Wick’s take on bubble and squeak was still pure comfort food.

The real star of this dish, is the roasted apple. Whenever I’ve roasted apples, it’s always gone wrong, with hard, uncooked centers or mushy exteriors. Clearly, I need to take lessons from the Wick, because this apple was cooked to perfection and had a lovely flavour.

If you’re in the mood for classy comfort food, it doesn’t get any better than the Wick’s pork, cider sauce, mash and roasted apple. The words “best meal I’ve ever had” were even uttered!

Due to my light main course, I was still peckish, and so couldn’t resist checking out the dessert menu. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so when I spotted the cheese board, I knew this was the “pudding” for me. The Wick at Both Ends puts a nice spin on their cheese board, by letting you construct your own board from a selection of cheeses (a trio of cheeses will cost you £5.95). I opted for the Y-Fenni Mustard & Ale, Godminster Brie, and the How’s ‘yer Father Lancashire.

My cheese board was served with that funky, rustic flair that the Wick do so well, arriving on a heavy slate, alongside a bowl of chutney, celery sticks, and a hexagonal arrangement of oatmeal crackers.

Wick at Both Ends cheese board

The chutney was particularly good. It was homemade, and struck that perfect balance between fruity sweetness, and sour notes. Cheese, chutney, crackers and celery is always a winning combination, and it’s clear that the Wick use top quality ingredients.

We also ordered a sweet pudding, in the form of a caramel cheesecake, which came with homemade pear sorbet and caramel sauce (£4.75).

Wick at Both Ends cheesecake

The cheesecake was indulgent, and had the kind of creaminess that makes you savour every bite. This rich cheesecake was perfectly complemented by the fresh, icy sorbet.

It’s difficult to pick fault with the Wick at Both Ends. While the portion of cheese and pine nuts on my salad was on the small side, and I wouldn’t have said no to bigger wedges of cheese on my cheeseboard, the quality of the ingredients, and the obvious care that’s put into preparing each dish, means that the portions are reasonable for what you pay.

I’ve eaten at the Wick a couple of times, through multiple menu changes, and have tucked into everything from tapas, to Sunday roasts, pies, and burgers – and I’ve never once had a bad meal.

The Wick really do serve some of the best grub in Sheffield, and I can’t wait to return and sample more of their new menu.

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Wick At Both Ends: Sunday Lunch

October 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 2 Comments
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There are few things in life as comforting as a Sunday lunch, and The Wick at Both Ends on West Street really big theirs up, with the claim that they do a Sunday roast “as good as your Nan’s.”

For those not already in the know, The Wick at Both Ends is a quirky West Street venue kitted out with mismatched armchairs and some of the comfiest corner booths you’re likely to find in a pub. The bar is decked out with fairy lights the whole year round, there’s plenty of arty graffiti on the walls, and table decorations fashioned out of peacock feathers, flowers and old liquor bottles. There’s also a stash of oldschool board games, if you fancy whiling away an afternoon playing Bizzy Bizzy Bumble Bees or Connect Four. This cosy West Street venue clearly has bags of character, but are the food and drink up to scratch?

The Wick’s menu is a three-headed beast of main courses, tapas and Sunday roasts. The main meals and tapas in particular offer a quirky take on standard pub fare; tapas-lovers can enjoy a Carpaccio of Smoked Venison, soup served in teacups or Bloody Mary Stuffed Mushrooms, while the main courses include a fresh take on that old classic Ham, Egg and Chips. However, we visited on a Sunday, so it only seemed fitting to give their roasts a whirl.

At £7.95 for the meat option and £6.95 for the vegetarian alternative, the Wick are pitching at the upper end of what you’d be willing to pay for Sunday lunch, but with a menu that boasts “real” Yorkshire puddings, lashings of gravy and locally sourced meat, it promises to deliver. Carnivores get a choice of meats, whereas veggies have just one option for their Sunday roast. This is pretty standard, but is worth bearing in mind if your party includes a fussy non-meat eater.

In addition to its offerings of tapas, roasts and main courses, the Wick at Both Ends has an exhaustive cocktail menu. Even cocktail experts should be able to find something new and exciting on the menu (a tipple made from thyme, apricot liqueur, gin, lemon juice and egg white, anyone?)

Cocktails may not be the traditional Sunday dinner aperitifs, but I couldn’t resist and ordered myself a Tow The Lime (£6.00)

This refreshing cocktail puts a fresh slant on the Moscow mule by adding homemade lime liqueur and freshly-squeezed kiwi juice. A Dark and Stormy (£5.00) was also on the cards, which was topped off with plenty of fiery ginger beer. Just what the doctor ordered on a gloomy Sunday afternoon!

The Wick at Both Ends has an enviable cocktail menu, and many of the cocktails utilize a long list of fresh fruits and herbs. If you’re a cocktail fan, you’ll be happy to spend whole afternoons and evenings working your way through the Wick’s menu. However, it is worth noting that many of the cocktails – especially the fruity ones – aren’t particularly strong. If you’re used to getting headspin from a single cocktail, then you’re better off sticking to the less extravagant options, such as the Dark and Stormy.

Halfway through our cocktails, the Sunday dinners arrived at the table. Initial impressions were mixed, for the price we’d been hoping for a belly-busting mountain of food. Both meals came with carrots and spinach, a couple of roasties, a homemade Yorkshire pud and gravy, but we agreed that the plate was missing another Yorkshire pudding, or even a few more roasties. Still, you can’t knock the Wick’s Sunday dinner for taste: the carrots in particular were delicious, tasting as though they’d been cooked in butter (you need a little fat in your Sunday lunch when it’s cold outside!) then rubbed with cracked black pepper and sea salt. Possibly the most unhealthy veggies in the world, but they were gobbled up in no time.

Now, it’s clear from the photo that the Yorkshire pudding didn’t look particularly appetizing. I was expecting a puffed-up, lumpy homemade Yorkie, but what I got was a deflated curl of batter with a suspiciously dark crust. But, never judge a Yorkshire pud by its sad, deflated cover, because the Wick’s Yorkies are delicious. A little on the burnt side, and not the prettiest of puddings, but when soaked in a little gravy the batter melted in the mouth and had that satisfying, homemade taste.

But onto the real star of my Sunday dinner – the veggie wellington. I’m not a massive pastry fan, but the Wick’s pastry was light and crispy, and soaked up oodles of flavour from the gravy. The filling was a stodgy, gut-busting blend of cheese, spinach and mushrooms. It looked a little grey and unappetizing, but the filling was actually chock full of flavour and settled in my stomach, a warm wodge of calorie-laden comfort food. I usually avoid pastry dishes, but I scraped up every last bit of gravy-sodden veggie wellington. Even if you’re a carnivore, I can heartily recommend the Wick’s vegetarian wellington.

If you’re craving some animal protein you’re in for a treat too, as the meat-eaters’ Sunday roast comes with the same buttery carrots, spinach, crispy roasties and homemade Yorkshire pudding plus, of course, hearty slices of meat (in this instance beef.) The roast beef had been cut in thick, generous slabs, and arrived at the table tender and tasty. Although a little pinker than some diners would like, there were no complaints from our table.

The Wick is a fun, distinctive venue with friendly staff and plenty of atmosphere. There’s always a few people in the cosy corner booths even on weekday afternoons, and it’s easy to see why. The cocktail menu is one of the most diverse in the city and, with three different menus to choose from, it’s not just on the cocktail-front where you’re spoilt for choice. The Sunday roasts are a little pricey, but that’s understandable when you take into account the clear quality of the grub. Hearty, tasty, and satisfying comfort food – perfect for the long winter months.

A Sunday roast where even the carrots and spinach are delicious, who’d have thought it possible?

Bloo 88

September 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Posted in Cocktail Bar, Restaurants | Leave a comment
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I was a regular fixture in Rise’s beer garden in my uni days, perfecting the art of making a glass of house white last all afternoon, so I was surprised to discover that Bloo 88 wasn’t next door to Rise as I’d previously assumed, but had actually replaced my old haunt on West Street. But is it a change for the better?

First impressions are that the place has undergone a major overhaul: the interior is now all exposed brickwork and rustic tables, but the old open pizza oven is still smoking away in the corner. On the Saturday afternoon we visited, the number of reserved tables caught us off guard. If you’re planning to pop in on a Friday or Saturday evening, you need to book in advance to guarantee a seat. We hadn’t booked, but luckily still managed to score a table, where we immediately launched into the cocktail menu in search of refreshment after the arduous trek here (and by arduous trek I mean the walk from The Wig and Pen around the corner…..)

Cocktail connoisseurs will find all the old favourites at Bloo 88: Mojitos, Cosmos, Mai Tais and Martinis, but there are a few unusual options too, including a Vanilla Laika (named after the first dog in space, apparently!) and a Brazil-inspired Passion Fruit Batida. The cocktails are fairly priced, with quite a few coming in at a reasonable £4.95, with the added promise of two cocktails for £7 if you visit during happy hour.

We settled on a Bramble (£4.95) and a Godfather Sour (£4.95.) Despite being cheaper than many other Sheffield cocktail bars, Bloo 88’s concoctions did not disappoint. My Bramble was sweet and fruity, without being in the least bit sickly, and packed a boozy punch. The garnishings put the city’s more expensive cocktail bars to shame, as mine arrived topped with a juicy blackberry and a fresh black cherry. This sealed the deal and had me running back to the bar for a second serving of Bramble goodness (got to get my five a day!)

Not to be outdone, the Godfather Sour was served in a funky little jar, topped with a whole raspberry and plenty of crushed ice. It tasted every bit as good as it looked.

Expectations high after our lavish, alcohol appetizers, we turned our attention to the food menu. Bloo 88’s speciality is pizza, which doesn’t sound particularly exciting at first, but rest assured even their ‘classic’ pizzas feature unusual toppings like baked egg and pine nuts. If you’re feeling adventurous, Bloo 88 have some speciality pizzas too, including the intriguing ‘Shanghai Surprise’ topped with shredded duck, spring onions and hoisin sauce, or you can throw caution to the wind and build your own pizza from an impressive list of ingredients.

Starved, greed got the better of us and we opted for two twelve inch pizzas – the Mediterranean (£8.95) and Brunch (£8.95.) Our food arrived quickly and, to our delight, we saw that Bloo 88’s presentation skills aren’t restricted to cocktails. Instead of arranging thinly-sliced toppings evenly across the base, Bloo 88 scatter thick, chunky toppings, and then seem to cook them wherever they fall. This gives the pizzas a very homemade, rustic appearance.

Biting into my first slice, I discovered a generous wedge of melt-in-the-mouth, warm goat’s cheese – a perfect pizza, from the very first bite.

As well as goat’s cheese, the Mediterranean toppings included cherry tomatoes which had that delicious, lightly-grilled tang, spinach, roasted garlic and slabs of portobello mushroom. I’d wolfed down half of this scrumptious pizza before it even occurred to me to try adding some sauces. It turned out Bloo 88 did have plenty of sauces to compliment their pizzas, but they were tucked away on a trolley in the corner, along with the cutlery and napkins. The staff hadn’t asked whether we wanted any sauces with our meals (or cutlery and napkins, either) and hadn’t even told us about the trolley. After the bar staff pointed me in the right direction, I returned to the table armed with sauces and cutlery, but this should have been pointed out to us earlier.

After experimenting with a few sauces, I can definitely recommend a few splashes of the Tabasco for hot-heads like myself. Bloo 88’s thin base and fiery Tabasco is a match made in heaven. The rest of the pizza disappeared in no time.

But it wasn’t all about the veggie pizza; the intriguing-sounding ‘Brunch’ pizza turned out to be a bumper meat-feast of parma ham and italian sausage, with the same perfectly-cooked cherry tomatoes and mushroom wedges, but with a baked egg in the centre giving this pizza a real ‘wow’ factor.

Although our reviewer initially complained about the lack of runny yolk, once they’d chowed down on a calorific forkful of baked egg, cheese and pizza base, they quickly changed their mind and started raving about the egg instead. The parma ham had the crispiness and crunch of bacon (and who doesn’t love that?) and the italian sausage delivered a hit of salty flavour. Another massive thumbs up for Bloo 88’s grub.

Stuffed from twelve inches of pizza goodness, we asked for the bill only to discover that classic pizzas are 2 for 1 all day, every day – what more could you want? It’s difficult to pick fault with Bloo 88 – the surroundings are welcoming and rustic, the cocktails are delicious and presented with flair, and the pizzas are cheap, delicious and guaranteed to leave you scanning the menu, plotting what you’ll order on your next visit (Florentina and New Yorker pizzas, in case you’re interested.) The staff could be a bit more attentive and check whether you’ll be needing anything else with your meal but really, fetching your own Tabasco is a small price to pay when the pizza is this good.

If you love pizza or cocktails, then Bloo 88 is your new favourite haunt. The loss of Rise wasn’t such a big deal after all.

Highly recommended.

Tamper Coffee

June 14, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Posted in Cafe | 3 Comments
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One thing that was sorely missing from the Sheffield food and drink scene until recently, was a proper gourmet coffee shop. So, we were delighted when we heard about Tamper Coffee, a new cafe specializing in coffee and cakes, and since our first visit we’ve been completely hooked on its charms. Tamper Coffee is somewhat tucked away on Westfield Terrace, but it’s well worth hunting out.

Be prepared for a warm welcome when you step inside Tamper Coffee. This is the sort of place where the staff recognize you after the first few visits – a rare phenomenon in this age of coffee shop corporations.

Our party kicked off a very sophisticated afternoon with coffees all around. Lovingly brewing coffee from scratch takes time but with table service on offer this is no big deal – and the coffee is worth the wait. The lattes (£2.20) were served in cute glass cups on black saucers (a very funky combination I’m now going to use when I’m trying to impress house guests!) To top it off, Tamper Coffee sketch a little picture in the frothed milk of every latte. You don’t get service like that in Starbucks!

Just as we’d finished coo-ing over our drawings (the team member who ended up with the bunny rabbit was particularly impressed) our Tamper Coffee cappuccinos (£2.20) arrived, topped with a generous sprinkling of chocolate powder.

On their website, Tamper Coffee boast the tagline “serving only the best and freshest coffee in Sheffield.” A bold claim, but one that’s difficult to dispute. Made with Our Cow Molly milk and locally-roasted beans, it bears absolutely no resemblance to the brown stuff you find at the big-buck coffee chains. Coffee lovers, Tamper is your dream come true. Quite simply, it’s the best coffee I’ve ever tasted.

Not content with serving the best cuppa in town, Tamper Coffee’s menu stretches to a selection of sarnies, cakes and breakfast items. Our table ordered two smoked salmon, cream cheese and rocket bagels (£3.80 each) which were served on rustic wooden boards. Starving, my face fell at the size of the meal, but it was all an optical illusion: the smooth cheese, tangy smoked salmon and deceptively filling bagel left me stuffed.

Although I turned down dessert, not everyone could resist and a couple of date scones (£1.80 each) found their way to our table. Tamper Coffee’s date scone is a lumpy, homemade-looking sweet treat that tastes every bit as fresh as it looks. It came with tasty raspberry jam and butter, although it’s laced with so many plump dates it can be enjoyed on its own.

So, the best cuppa in town, fantastic food, homemade cakes, reasonable prices and friendly staff – but being the best in the business comes at a cost: Tamper Coffee was absolutely rammed when we visited over the weekend. Although they have just opened an extension with a few extra tables, we struggled to find enough seats for our party, and the waiting time for food was the longest I’ve ever experienced in a cafe. In fact, one of our meals (a ham and cheese croissant priced at £3.00) got lost in the rush of orders, and by the time it was remembered we had to leave. Tamper Coffee is a real gem of a coffee shop that deserves to do well, and it’s always exciting to see a homely, independent place thriving, but on that particular day I couldn’t help wishing it wasn’t quite so busy.

Tamper Coffee is the perfect antidote to the coffee chains that have dominated our high streets for far too long. It’s a small, friendly and independent gem that deserves your custom. Be prepared to wait far longer than you would for a Starbucks, but be prepared to forgive them for it when the best coffee in Sheffield arrives at your table (although it might be worth keeping a closer eye on your food order than us!)

If you like fresh coffee and yummy cakes in a vibrant, local and friendly venue (and really, who doesn’t?) then what are you waiting for?

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