Arrive in Sheffield by train and, taking in the handsome station facade and the therapeutic water sculpture thing, you could be in one of those proper big-hitter European cities. Especially if you squint a bit.
Bear east a couple of hundred yards and the architectural vibe gets a bit Eastern Bloc chic.
Aye, it certainly likes to mix things up a bit does Sheffield. At times it sings out as a cathedral city of some splendour; then, turn a corner and it’s a like being back in Bradford, but with a John Lewis. That there’s a Town Hall AND a City Hall is both a bit greedy and a bit intriguing.
Anyway, enough of the Whicker’s World bollocks. To the scran.
We’d wanted to visit for ages (listen, we’re simple folk with simple dreams,) and after an amble round the re-homed market, which’ll look better when it’s scuffed up a bit, we took sustenance in the form of a chicken burrito and cheesy fries from Shy Boy Cantina, themselves housed in The Great Gatsby.
The wrap was rammed full of the good stuff, and the fries, (technically chips but let’s not split spuds,) hadn’t just been anointed with a bit of cheap cheese but were bathing in a strong cheddary sauce. Dang tasty and ace value for money, given that it cost a tenner and easily served two.
Now, we wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to suggest that @RutlandArmsChef from twitter is reading, but if you are, know this: your food looks consistently top draw and we want to scoff it all. Had we come your way that evening I’m certain we’d have had a reet good do with some rabbit or pork. The only reason we went elsewhere was that we wanted to get amongst some posh Italian fodder and go toe to toe with a wine list. Next time.
Vero Gusto’s down a smart street and has a nice door. We tried, fruitlessly, to look sophisticated by drinking cocktails at the bar before ordering and bedding in.
Soz for being a bit unimaginative with the old starters but sometimes there’s an itch only a plate of meat will properly scratch. A spread like this can only be as good as the stuff that’s sourced. This lot was sound, and a dab of pesto stopped it becoming too meatily rich. (Meatily is a word. Chuffed.)
We all know you can be on dodgy/rubbery ground with calamari, but this pile had been fried to rustley goodness, (rustely’s not a word – gutted,) and nobody got to spout anything hilarious about ‘rubber bands’ etc.
So far, so solid, but main courses were what stopped us earwigging our neighbours’ conversation (he didn’t say a word – it didn’t bode well) and got our noses firmly in the trough.
“Delicately cooked” fish can sometimes be another way of saying “this stuff from the sea tastes of nowt”, but it wasn’t the case with these pieces of red snapper and sea bass, all firm, fresh and refined, and bobbing about in a tomato and olive broth. Tasty gear. (Drunken photo.)
A generous pile of raviolo, filled with asparagus and mascarpone and each a little non-uniform to the next, had been rolled, cut and cooked by a sure hand. They had bite and body and showed how good a simple bowl of pasta should be. At these, we cooed. (Drunk but atmospheric photo.)
Of course that bit of quality’s reflected in the price. It’s a few quid more than the local Bella Italia, but it’s more than a few quid better. It’s food to dally over. The pasta was about 15 quid, and the fish 20.
They take their wine seriously here. One particular bottle of red was like a starter, main and dessert rolled into one. The extensive list described it as having a ‘barnyard note’. Entirely accurate and bizarrely brilliant.
Service-wise, you’re in safe, friendly but unobtrusive, hospitable hands.
Here, we were going to add a quick word about Shear’s Yard in Leeds, where we landed less than a day later. Thing is, we can’t think of much to say, other than we expected a bit more from the stable behind Art’s Cafe. Toilets were nice.