I was fortunate enough to be invited by the Prince of Wales (the pub not HRH) to attend a pre-launch event ahead of the re-opening of their Ecclesall Road pub. It was somewhere I had always passed previously on my way out towards the Peak District, but had never actually been in. When I heard that they had re-branded, re-furbished and re-vamped their food and drink offering, I was very excited to sample their new menu.
The pub is located on Ecclesall Road, a short walk from Hunters Bar roundabout, and a 10 min taxi from the city centre. When me and my friends arrived, we were greeted by the friendly staff and shown to the expansive bar. The gin station, with a whole host of garnishes, was fantastic (especially for a gin nerd like me). The bar was well stocked, with my far more cultured friend Will sampling their Royale Negroni. This naturally led to Pulp Fiction references for the next 15 minutes…
“What appears to be an unsuspecting pub on the outskirts of Sheffield is producing some really high-end food choices.”
After a good chat with the barman about exactly what made the Negroni ‘Royale’, we were shown to another area in the pub – you are spoilt for choice in terms of places to sit – and offered some delicious canapés. We were treated to crostini with charred aubergine and harissa, small pork belly pieces with apple sauce, subtly spiced fish balls with a pea and mint puree, falafel, and crab pots with a champagne cream. This was the first of many pleasant surprises of the evening – what appears to be an unsuspecting pub on the outskirts of Sheffield is producing some really high-end, restaurant quality food choices.
After admiring the interior decor (and floral motif, again observed by the astute and erudite Will), and discussing how we were going to behave ourselves for the evening, we were shown to our table. Our drinks were topped up, and we saw the menu for the first time (I had somehow managed to resist looking online before we came). There were some great options on both the starters and mains, but I opted for the szechuan pepper squid with aioli to start, and the pork belly with scallops and dauphinoise for main. NB: I’ve since looked at the menu online, and have seen several other options that would have been in contention! Other meals on the table included a portobello mushroom and stilton combo, fillet steak with peppercorn sauce, and a goats cheese pizza.
“The pork belly proved to be delicious – slow cooked, to render the fat and make it tender, but finished on a high heat, to give it a steak-like crust.”
The squid was nicely presented (I’m a sucker for a well-placed pea shoot), but was lacking in the heat from the szechuan pepper advertised. It was pretty well cooked – crunchy, but slightly greasy on the outside and chewy in the middle, and the aioli was fresh, punchy and proved a nice compliment. I would have liked slightly more spice, either more pepper or some chilli, but overall it was still tasty, and once again, unexpected from a ‘pub’.
The main was better, with the pork belly proving to be delicious – slow cooked, to render out lots of the fat and make it soft and tender, but finished on a high heat, to give it a steak-like crust. The scallops were a nice compliment, if slightly undercooked, and the rich red wine jus was a perfect binder for the whole dish. The dauphinoise were well cooked, but lacking slightly in flavour – perhaps some more herbs or nutmeg in the sauce. All in all, it was a very well put together dish, and again a selection of ingredients that exceeded my expectation.
“The coconut milk sorbet was genius – it was really subtle, which complimented the strong flavours in the rest of the dish. It was a fantastic way to finish the meal”
Finally, the dessert was excellent – pineapple tarte tatin with a coconut milk sorbet. We all smelt it before it arrived at the table, with delicious sweet and tropical notes. The coconut milk sorbet was genius – it was very subtle, which complimented the strong flavours of pineapple, mango and caramel that were in the rest of the dish. It was a fantastic way to finish the meal and, controversially for someone who would choose savoury over sweet 9 times out of 10, was the stand out course. I will certainly be trying to re-create it at home!
Whenever I’m at a restaurant, I always think the little things matter as much as the food – service, drinks selection, atmosphere, right down to the toilets! The service was great, always attentive without being intrusive. The decor of the place was great, the music was interesting but not distracting, they had a decent wine menu (we had a bottle of Albariño) and the facilities were excellent too!
Overall, the experience was lovely – some good food, great atmosphere and I’m pleased to have found a new to add to the long list of places to recommend in Sheffield. I would suggest going there with family for a celebratory meal, or perhaps for a date, rather than a low key Tuesday night supper with mates. Big thanks once again to the Prince of Wales pub for inviting me.