There has been something of a quiet restaurant revolution going in Sheffield over the last decade. Though you might nowadays have to tuck in using something other than Sheffield’s finest cutlery – it being produced in somewhat lower quantities than it was in the hey day of Sheffield steel – there is a positive bloom of talented chefs in the city, putting some of Sheffield’s restaurants firmly on the map.
A case in point is Rafters Restaurant in the city’s suburb of Nethergreen. If you didn’t know it was there, you could quite easily miss it, located as it is up a narrow staircase on the first floor above a little parade of shops . You know where to find it now though.
It’s an intimate, stylish restaurant set under a marvellous vaulted roof with exposed beams (hence the name apparently) so it feels very light and airy. The restaurant staff, though utterly professional, are refreshingly down to earth and unpretentious – no-one looks down their nose if you ask for a jug of tap water here, though still and sparkling mineral water are of course available if you prefer it.
Chef Patron Marcus Lane has created quite a name for himself on the local restaurant scene and as we were to find out, quite rightly so. The main a la carte menu has a set price of £36.95 per person for three courses, but between Monday to Thursday there is also a special menu with fewer choices on it, but which offers two courses and a complimentary glass of wine for £25 per person, making it pretty good value. On Monday nights only, they also have a bring your own wine policy with a small corkage fee.
The whole experience oozed quality, from the little touches such as the delicious complimentary canapes of cod tempura and goat’s cheese tartlets, to the mouthwatering selection of fresh warm breads. We opted for the two course menu and started things off with king prawns with a mango salsa and a terrine of organic chicken, ham and leeks. Both were beautifully presented and tasted delicious. A little water melon sorbet arrived as a palate cleanser, another lovely little touch that brought with it a taste of Mediterranean summer days.
For main courses, we’d selected a Parmesan crusted roast cod with aubergine and chickpeas and roast duck breast with baby vegetables. The cod was a wonderful thick fillet, moist and flaking to the fork and perfectly seasoned to allow the delicate flavours to shine. The duck breast, just slightly pink in the middle was meltingly tender. Portions were generous and filling; if anything there was too much duck breast and we’d have happily forfeited half the meat for more vegetables, but if was truly the only niggle we could come up with on the night and that said, it was a very small niggle.
We finished off with rich dark coffee and petits fours and after adding a couple of additional glasses of wine, we’d had a thoroughly good meal in a restaurant with a very relaxed warm ambiance for a touch under £70. It was worth it and that’s not something you can often say with complete honesty after a restaurant meal.
Celebrity chef James Martin has announced that his new UK restaurant, The Leeds Kitchen, will officially open to the public on Saturday 9th April 2011.
The new restaurant will be at the Alea Casino in Clarence Dock, which is in the trendy waterfront area of Leeds and promises a menu that will feature the best of British cuisine with a twist.
The restaurant has been transformed into a beautiful, contemporary fine dining space by Yorkshire based Interior Designer Carolyn Parker, who has worked with her daughter Abby and local suppliers to create a warm and open design, incorporating some unique pieces reflecting James’ personality.
“Leeds and Yorkshire is the perfect place for me to open my new restaurant,” explains James Martin.
“With a great young team, both in the kitchen and front of house, we are really looking forward to the opening. Being a Yorkshire man, it’s not hard to understand why the produce is so good in the area and we are going to use it to maximum affect on the menu.”
Out and about in West Yorkshire recently, we came across a little gem of a pub called the The Huntsman Inn near Holmfirth.
We were virtually swept into it during a howling gale (it’s on the edge of the moors and the weather can be brisk at the best of times up there, but this was a particularly ferocious day!) and discovered to our joy a lovely cosy retreat with an open fire crackling and a menu full of scrumptious sounding, very decently priced food.
Over the years, we’ve been finding it harder and harder to find pub food of the sort offered at The Huntsman – there seems to be a yawning gap between top of the range gourmet pubs and cheap and cheerful chains that rely on standard menus and pre-cut chips. We weren’t looking for Michelin star standards, just good quality homemade pub food and this place certainly seemed to have it. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for a full blown main course meal, so opted for their homemade soup and sandwiches, but plenty of people were tucking in with gusto around us.
For just under £6 each, we found our meals to be great value – we each had a hot sandwich which came with a lovely mug of chunky fresh homemade vegetable soup and the piece de resistance, proper hand-cut chunky chips. It was just what we needed to help us thaw out, delicious, comforting and most certainly recommended.