Saturday, 29 October 2011

Devonshire Arms

I've recently started a new job, one that I am enjoying to date, and in celebration of landing said job I went out for a celebratory meal with Gav (quel surprise?). It took me a while to decide where we would go and in the end I had to turn to Twitter for advice.

There were lots of suggestions for the Devonshire Arms, but I must admit to not being overly keen. The menu on the website looked pretty dull; more pub grub than fine dining. But on checking out some of chef Lee's tweets I soon worked out that he had more about him than pie and chips as he runs daily specials that are, well, special.

Of course the Devonshire Arms has very recently won two prestigious Eat Sheffield awards, including the top Best Restaurant award, so there is no doubting the quality of this restaurant now.

The pub itself is about 150 years old with a relatively new extension which houses the dining room with an open plan kitchen to the back. Overall there was a comfortable feel to the place and on arrival we were warmly welcomed by staff at the bar.

We decided to have a drink in the bar area whilst perusing the menu and specials board. There were about 4/5 each of starters and mains on the specials and although choosing starters was quite straight forward I struggled with the main. I was hoping for lamb or venison, but found neither so I decided to play safe with the rib-eye steak and chips from the main menu. After all it is my all time favourite meal.

After placing our orders we were seated in the relatively quiet restaurant (it was a Wednesday) where our starters quickly followed, as did the mains to the table next to us. It was at this point that I spied the pork special. Hoping that the chef wouldn't have commenced any prep for my dish, I asked if I could switch my order from the steak to the pork. Everyone happily obliged.

Back to the starters.

I'd decided on the scallops wrapped in Parma ham and served with a pea purée, from the specials board. It's a popular combination and could well be considered as another safe bet, but I love scallops so it's hard for me to say no to them.

And, I'm glad I didn't say no to these. They were fresh, beautifully tender and HUGE (hence a couple of them toppling over in the picture!). The Parma ham added a contrasting texture as well as extra flavour and the pea purée was the perfect accompaniment. It was a very good start.

The husband's choice was a little more humble than mine; cauliflower soup. It's something I wouldn't ever imagine ordering. Even the addition of the blue cheese in the title didn't do it for me.

Ha! How foolish am I? After just one spoonful, I was instantly jealous. The soup was packed with intense cauliflower flavour, but forget that bland overcooked slop served in hospitals, this was delicious. Of course the croutons topped with blue cheese were not ignored and the strong salty flavour worked well with the cauliflower, but the dish didn't depend on the cheese to work.

At this point we knew we were in safe hands. Anyone who can make me jealous of a cauliflower soup when I have three beautiful scallops in front of me, is good.

Onto the mains.... Pork isn't my favourite meat as I was raised on overcooked chops, but this was deliciously moist and tender with a slightly charred edge. It was some of the best pork I have ever had.

As seems to be the fashion at the moment the dish was served with long strips of crackling - one fashion that I can happily keep up with. Beneath the pork there was a good serving of crushed potatoes making it a decent sized dish, especially as we also had a selection of veg to share.

Gav had the duck from the specials board. It looked amazing with big juicy pieces of duck, fat blackberries and dauphinoise potatoes. The duck was nice and pink with a crispy skin and it worked well with the deep dark blackberries.

The portion sizes had been just right so we had enough room for dessert. I really do like cheesecake and the de-constructed pineapple version took my fancy.

The topping was thick and creamy and the biscuit base was spread in a strip from one end of the plate to the other. It wasn't your bog standard biscuit base either. It reminded me of granola and offered a good crunchy texture to eat with the topping.

Gav spotted that arctic roll was on offer. Retro desserts are always good fun and as this one came with jelly, there wasn't much chance of it passing him by.

Of course, it looked a bit better than the stuff we got served up with our school diners and Gav enjoyed it immensely. Strawberry jelly was packed with flavour, the sponge was sweet and the ice cream was good. A far cry from anything you'd pick up from Iceland.

We'd had a fabulous evening. Even though the adjacent bar was busy, the restaurant had a relaxed feel to it. Service had been attentive and friendly and the food had exceeded all my expectations. It had been a fine choice for a celebratory meal.

With Lee's creative specials changing regularly there is always going to be something new to try and it's great to see somewhere trying new things to keep the dining experience fresh and exciting.

I hear that they do a damn good Sunday dinner (read Nibbly Pig's review here) and I know that I already want to return. I think we'll wait until late autumn when a slap up Sunday dinner in a cosy pub meal is just what we're after.

For more information on those fantastic specials, follow chef Lee on Twitter @ChefsAtTheDev and get ready to drool over the pictures he often shares with us!


  1. I think we shall be paying this place a visit! Sounds lovely and looks lovely too, great review Clare, thanks for sharing!

  2. Artic roll!!!! I need this