Thursday, 27 December 2012

Guest Blog - Christmas Day at The Beauchief - Leigh Richmond


Oooo, it's a hard job this 'ere blogging lark! A meal might only take an hour or two to consume, but I can assure you it takes a damn sight longer to write the follow up blogpost. So, when Leigh Richmond asked if he could do a guest blog I thought all my Christmases had come at once!

This is Leigh's first venture into the wonderful world of blogging and he's kicked off with The Beauchief. Leigh prides himself on having eaten at around 3/4 of the eateries in Sheffield and on being the one that his friends will call for advice whenever they are eating out. Soooo let's see what he thought to one of my favourite restaurants....

Welcome to my first blog! After years of being the ‘go to guy’ when it comes to local restaurants and where is worth/not worth going, I volunteered to do a review of our visit to TheBeauchief (formally Christians). I had been before it had changed hands, and wasn’t overly impressed, but I then read Clare’s blog and she had commented on how fantastic it was, so thought it was worth a go. I know that it now forms part of the Richard Smith empire (and we have visited every other one of his eateries - my favourite being Inn at Troway).

My family and I aren’t very traditional when it comes to Christmas Day – we quite often go out to eat. We have had some great meals (Middlewood Hall in 1996 – one of the greatest meals I’ve EVER had!!) and some terrible meals (Cubley Hall in 2009 – it was a Carvery and they had signs on the wall advertising the same meal for £4.99 on weekdays, when we had paid £60 per head on Christmas Day!!).

We arrived at the Beauchief for midday and were welcomed in to sit at the bar for drinks (Peroni on tap and a couple of glasses of rose grenache). They also gave us the menu and took our orders 10 mins later. Since my last visit the whole place has been renovated inside and it is beautiful. We had originally booked in for 8 people and were offered a separate room, where there were no steps (my Dad is in a wheelchair, so it is difficult for us to use lots of stairs). We had 3 people drop out a few weeks before, but elected to stay in the room despite the doubts of whether or not we would feel lost in there with less people. The room was set out really well, and it would be great for business meetings etc. Our doubts of feeling lost in there soon vanished!

We were given warm bread rolls with two types of butter (normal and Hendersons relish flavour) along with some olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar. The Hendersons butter added something different and had a bit of a twist.

For starter, I ordered the Lobster Ravioli with vanilla cream. I was interested to see if they could manage to make the two tastes work together, as the lobster can sometimes get lost if it is served with an overpowering sauce. The pasta was cooked perfect for me (al dente), and the vanilla cream had a soft flavour to it which really enhanced the lobster. You can tell that the Chef has a good pallet and knows how to balance flavours. I ate it far too quickly!!

Next up was the one I was looking forward to the most - Pan fried scallop with apple jelly, fennel and bacon ice cream. The thought of it made my mouth water!! I love fish, but only when it is cooked properly. A mistake that many chefs make is cooking the fish for too long, but fortunately for me the scallop was bang on. The dish was very well presented, with the scallop sitting on the slice of apple jelly, lightly draped with fennel. The bacon ice cream had a deep flavour with a smoky after-taste  The only criticism I had was that the apple jelly was bland for me - it could have tasted a bit sharper, to add a different element to the dish.

As I mentioned earlier, I am not traditional when it comes to Christmas, and I love fish – so I went for the crab crusted lemon sole, vanilla based chicory and coriander cream sauce.  The sole was absolutely beautiful – it melted in my mouth and the hint of coriander in the sauce blended really well with it. The crab crust on the fish gave it a bit of bite as well. I didn’t eat all of the chicory as it is too bitter for me and I couldn’t taste the vanilla in it. The vegetables that were served were a mix of Mediterranean and traditional winter, which were lovely! Overall, I really enjoyed it, and I finished my Dad’s off as well!!

Before I met my wife, I was never a ‘chocolate person’. I couldn’t even eat a full Mars bar. But her influence on my life has led me to develop a bit sweet tooth and I elected for the chocolate Brownie tower with peanut espuma. If you don’t know what an ‘espuma’ is, it is a type of foam (yes, I had to Google it as well)! It was basically a chocolate brownie encased in a chocolate tube filled with caramel, peanut foam and a surprise piece of peanut brittle or two. It was a demonstration of a chef who has great technique and loves chocolate! My Mum is a desert fan, and said that it was one of the best deserts she has EVER eaten. I couldn’t finish it all, as it was too sweet for me, but for the chocolate fan, it was a must!

At this point, my trousers were getting tight and I was on a huge sugar rush from the dessert… and then came the cheese!! I’m not a cheese expert, but I think there was brie, Stilton and something that tasted a bit like tickler. A fairly standard cheese board with a few crackers and chutney. I only managed a few crackers and a bit of brie, as I was incredibly full. To be honest I don’t think we needed a final cheese course, but this was Christmas Day!! A lovely filter coffee came to finish it all off.

Overall, the meal was brilliant and well worth the £70 each that we paid. The service was really good; we could easily have been forgotten about as we were hidden away in the separate room.  We were there for a total of 3 hours, and at no point did we feel rushed (as I knew that there were two services). We were also given a £10 voucher for weekday use, and a deal for dinner, bed and breakfast for two for £99. We are definitely going to use both offers and I would be very interested to visit there for a la carte. A big thumbs up from me and the family – a perfect place to visit if you want to be bold and go out for Christmas dinner!!

Follow Leigh at @leighrichmond for more food chat.

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