Friday, 20 April 2012

The Beauchief


If you haven't read my review of the Samuel Fox, you must have at least heard me banging on about the place at some point.  I discovered it in December last year and managed to squeeze in 3 visits before the business went up for sale in March.  Naively I thought nothing of the sale (aside from a brief spot of day dreaming that I would buy it myself), and I just assumed that the chefs would stay put.

So…. Imagine my horror on hearing that the chefs were leaving.  Oh!  I had only just discovered some of the best food I'd had in years and its creators were leaving me.

Then…. Imagine my delight on hearing that the whole team of chefs were moving to The Beauchief on Abbeydale Road South, Sheffield.  It's, like, a fifteen minute drive out of the city centre.  I can even get the bus there.  Hell, I could walk there if needed (although, let's face it, I never will).

The restaurant opened last Thursday and I was so desperate to try it, but I held back.  I told myself that I should leave the team to settle into the new venue and with their new staff and that it was a bit too early to be rocking up demanding an excellent feed. 

Ha!  I lasted a week. 

It was Gav's fault really.  He sent me a cheeky text asking if I fancied going out for tea.  He'd suggested a few low key places in town; one of our favourite bars and a Chinese amongst others…. But I let my mind wander and before I knew it I was on the phone booking a table at The Beauchief.

Having never been before (not even when Christian was there) I didn't quite know what to expect of the place and neither Gav nor I had bothered dressing smartly.  Don't you make that mistake!  Not that there would be any sneering from the crew of waiters mind, just that this place is pretty grand and worthy of a bit effort, or just a little more than jeans, trainers and t-shirts.

We were warmly welcomed by Kelly (the resident manager) who instantly recognised us from visiting the Samuel Fox and on spotting the comfy Chesterfield sofas we had a drink in the lounge first.  There's a fair amount to choose from on the wine list, but thanks to my colleague, if I'm going for a white wine, I can now only guzzle sauvignon blanc as everything else is too bland in comparison.  It's got to be a New Zealand one at that.  Hmph.  Twenty seven quid later and I'm sorted with a more than satisfactory bottle.  My advice?  This is an expensive taste to acquire and if you're not already hooked on the stuff then I would just stick to the pinot, it's far less addictive (and less pricy).

I had read the menu about 37 times since it had gone online last week so ordering didn't take long. It also helped that a few favourites from the Samuel Fox had travelled with Charlie and his crew to The Beauchief and anyone looking for recommendations should go for the black pudding starter, the lamb main and the lemon meringue or the custard tart for dessert. I however, fancied something new...

We went through to the dining room; a beautiful space and a far cry from the Samuel Fox, (which was fair enough, but I never got on with those cork placemats).  There are stiff white tablecloths, high backed chairs, silver cutlery and lanterns with tall fat candles flickering away gently.

There are two sides to the menu; you can be innovative or classic.  Of course, being pure rock 'n' roll, we chose innovative all the way. To start I fancied both the pigeon and the venison, but as I knew that I was going to have a meaty main, I went for the tuna sashimi (£9).  Admittedly the tuna wasn't quite sashimi as it was cured and I forget the exact flavours (I'd intended on a bit of an update blog rather than a full blown review so didn't take notes) but I do know it was delicious.  Kelly told us that the ginger and sesame seed marshmallow is a bit like Marmite, in the way you either love it or hate it.  I disagree as I simply cannot make my mind up on this one.  I didn't like the foamy texture, but it worked well with the soft, smooth tuna and I did like the flavour.  Maybe it will grow on me….

As soon as Gav's plate landed I was jealous as he had gone for the venison (£9). The meat was ruby red raw in the centre, the Parmesan ice cream was to die for (quite literally) and the tortellini stuffed with mushroom and truffle oil was bursting with flavour as well as that gorgeous, thick stench of the truffles. It looked stunning, but tasted better and although Gav gave me a little nibble, I'll be having a whole plate of that to myself next time, whether I'm having a meaty main or not.

And... onto those mains....

I went for the beef (£25) which was seared fillet served with a large cannelloni of pasta (with bite) stuffed with beef cheek and horseradish potato bon bons. Normally I don't bother with fillet as I think that the taste of a rib eye far outweighs the texture of the fillet, but this was a tasty bit of meat meaning I had the best of both worlds. The beef cheek cut is a current favourite of mine and this didn't disappoint and, although this is a rich meat, tomatoes were added to the shredded meat to give it a bit of a lift. There were a couple of dollops of mash and potato bon bons which were similar to mini croquettes (and good) and there was just enough sauce on the plate (one of my bugbears is excess sauce; I hate how it completely overpowers the flavours on the plate).

Gav had the hake (£17). A large piece of fish was sat on a fat crab ravioli in a puddle of a saffron bourride. 'What is a bourride?' I hear you ask. Well, according to Merriam Webster it's 'a fish stew similar to bouillabaisse that is usually thickened with egg yolks and strongly flavoured with garlic'. Whatever. It was loverly, rich and creamy and it worked well with the ingredients on the plate; adding to them, not overpowering them. Fish was perfectly cooked and the pasta had a little bite. All in all Gav was perfectly happy with his lot, as was I.

In some rather pathetic attempt to be healthy, we ordered a side of greens too. Green beans, mange tout and carrots cooked simply and well and served without any fuss were appreciated, not that we needed any sides to bulk up the portions.

Remembering the chocolate (£7) dessert from a visit to the Samuel Fox I was glad to see it here and headed straight for it. See it comes with a hot caramel sauce which is poured over the chocolate mousse, causing it to collapse in the middle and form a delicious puddle of chocolate caramel. It was good, very good.

Gav went for the liquorice (£7) which was a ball of iced liquorice parfait rolled in frozen berries served with crème fraiche ice cream. It was another good looking dish and we liked the uniqueness of the dish. The light and fresh flavours of the crème fraiche ice cream worked well with the richness of the parfait and Gav declared it a success.

The service was as good as the food and you honestly would not think that the team had only been working together for about a week. And, although the restaurant is pretty formal, Kelly will make sure that there's no stuffiness here. She wants chatter and laughter in her restaurant and I'm quite sure that once Sheffield gets to hear about the newest addition to the food scene, she'll get it.

Marvellous. Bloody Marvellous. Charlie and Kelly, Sheffield is all the better for having you!


  1. Cheers Neil - give it a go next time you're after somat special this side of the Pennines. There's a traditional menu for the folks...