Time for Tim at the Peacock

Tim Treeby. in charge at the Peacock, Cutthorpe

Tim Treeby. in charge at the Peacock, Cutthorpe

It’s the chef who usually gets the credit for the success of a restaurant but it wasn’t always so. Until the rise of the celebrity chef it was the Maitre D, the man or woman front of house, who was the main attraction.

When one star rises another wanes. We seldom say Maitre D these days but we mustn’t underrate the importance of front of house. Being a ‘Meeter and Greeter’ doesn’t sound much but the tenor of the evening is very often established in the first few minutes.

A kitchen having a difficult time, or not quite up to scratch, can be saved from calamity by the right atmosphere in the dining room. Guests can be put in a friendly and forgiving frame of mind.

It works the other way, of course. Many a kitchen on the top of its form has been unwittingly sabotaged by actions out front. As the old saying goes, people might eat with their eyes first but it does no harm to get them in a good mood beforehand.

Get a good front of house and a good kitchen and things can sing, as they do at the Peacock, Cutthorpe (drive through Barlow and keep on going). I start my review by noting that the place is fronted by the genial Tim Treeby. Foodies will remember him from Thyme Café in Broomhill, the Inn at Troway and others in Richard Smith’s Sheffield restaurants group before he went off to the posh Cavendish Hotel in Baslow.

We are alerted to him by a man in a pub which didn’t do food that day. Our acquaintance recommended the Peacock’s ‘deconstructed fish pie’ and added, for good measure, the dining room was run “by that Scots bloke Tim from Thyme.”

The Peacock's deconstructed fish pie

The Peacock’s deconstructed fish pie

That Scots bloke was on form. Head chef Andrew Clark was off that night so sous Jack Goodwin was in charge and the place, with its two dining rooms and around 70 covers, was busier than expected.

Tim slowed things down to the right pace, finding seats in the bar, bringing menus and drinks and promising a table in a while. Not just us, whom he knew. It was the same smooth operation with the next people in.

We’d never heard of the Peacock before the other night and nor had Tim until he was offered the job. He saw potential when he joined last August and I think he’s right. The place is pleasantly decorated, is in picturesque surroundings, has a nice class of customer, good beer (four real ales) aa menu which runs from traditional to inventive and friendly staff.

I’d got my eyes on the chicken with breast meat, confit leg, charred leek, mushroom ‘soil’ and rosti for £13 until Tim showed me the specials which included suet lamb pudding with chips, gravy and veg for a mere £9. When someone says pudding or pie I go weak at the knees.

But first an excellent pairing of escabeche mackerel, the flesh firm and meaty, coupled with mackerel parfait – think an extra smooth pate – in a stark black bowl. Great at £6 although I would have liked a little toast or bread. A pound more brought my wife a home cured citrous salmon with asparagus spears and parmesan.

I normally get grumpy when chefs ‘deconstruct’ dishes and my wife’s main was really a Not Fish Pie or Fish Not Pie but we knew what we were in for, Tim was all charm and it is a very popular choice. The ingredients were a perfect piece of seabass, some salmon, a scallop and a prawn with a deep-fried runny egg (well, Delia puts boiled egg in her fish pie) and a little pot of mash on the side, with a sauceboat full of creamy sauce. She loved it. It’s £15.

The suet pie was fine although the pastry was a tad dry but the filling substantial, with a rich, salty gravy on the side. Chips here are excellent and we had a portion of crisp, squeaky green vegetables on the side.

Dessert was shared: a vanilla panna cotta (£6) with the right amount of wobble and very crisp cubes of rhubarb.

Tim says Sunday lunches here are knock-out (well, he would, wouldn’t he?) so the Peacock caters for every day of the week. Well worth a visit.

Web: http://www.thepeacockcutthorpe.co.uk

Underneath the crispy parsnip is a suet pudding

Underneath the crispy parsnip is a suet pudding

I’m with Kate in the Jam Set

Kate Moss is into making jam

Kate Moss is into making jam

Excuse me, I have to sit down for a minute. You see I’m still reeling from the emotional impact of making my own jam. Yes you read that right. Jam. Gooseberry and elderflower jam, if you really want to know.

Before you say “Swipe me, that Dawes bloke is finally off his rocker,” let me tell you I am ever so slightly extracting the wee-wee. I nearly choked on my home made marmalade the other week when I read in the Daily Telegraph that jam making has become popular with London’s smart set, even if they buy their raspberries from Sainsbury’s, rather than pick them from a bush in the back garden.

Until then I hadn’t realised how much I’d got in common with glamorous multi-millionaire model Kate Moss who, if this article is to be believed, makes her own jam to be sold at the Glastonbury Festival. Really?

Or that jam is being made as you read this by a couple called Sky and Kai in a railway arch in Bermondsey. You might call these people the Jam Set although one thing they don’t insist on is that jams should actually set. “Jam making is something that people should be relaxed about. The WI culture is so prescriptive,” said Sky. Or was it Kai?

The writer of the piece went right home and made her own raspberry jam – in eight minutes. She was, she says, “stunned by the emotional impact.” Don’t ask if it was set. Marguerite Patten (who died earlier this month aged 99), author of my jam-stained kitchen bible, Jams, Preserves and Chutneys, would be spinning in her grave.

What Marguerite says is good enough for me and I don’t think it takes eight minutes to make raspberry jam, not if you dredge the fruit in the sugar. The juices dissolve the sugar overnight.

Her recipe for gooseberry and elderflower jam was spot on: one pound of very crisp gooseberries, picked from bushes on public parkland, boiled until soft in half a pint of water, then slowly add 20oz of sugar and dissolve. Instead of elderflower heads I used a slug of my elderflower cordial. Then fast boil but not for long.

Amazingly it set at the first testing, a very light, gentle set but a set nevertheless. I can’t say I was stunned by any emotional impact but I was chuffed. Last time I made gooseberry jam it was rock hard. But that’s because I used my jam thermometer which is the world’s biggest liar and now rely on the wrinkle test on a plate cooled in the freezer. And I’ve realised you have to turn the heat off while waiting for the jam to wrinkle.

You always know when I’ve made jam because forgotten plates keep turning up in the freezer. Gosh, I’ve just remembered. I’ve done that again . . .

Gooseberry jam

Gooseberry jam

Gooseberry bush

Gooseberry bush

On a roll at the Druid

Druid chorizo and black pudding sausage roll

Druid chorizo and black pudding sausage roll

After almost a year head chef John Parsons is still not entirely sure what his market is at the picturesque Druid Inn, Birchover, in the remoter reaches of North Derbyshire. There’s a camping and caravan site just up the road so does he cook the campers fish and chips or should he cater for the foodies?

The 200-year-old pub was a fashionable watering hole run by the charismatic and wonderfully named Brian Bunce in the Eighties, boasting a 100-plus item backboard menu and a woodland mural around the walls of a dining room. If you had a sports car, a sports jacket and a sporty girlfriend, you made sure you were seen here.

This century has seen the Druid in the guides as a foodie destination with, successively, Richard Smith, the Thompson brothers and Wayne Rodgers at the helm.

John is no slacker himself in the kitchen. He took Kitchen on Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, into the guides and has built up his own loyal circle of admirers who have followed him around his many restaurants. For them the Druid offers fancy, thoughtful food as well as burger and chips.

I’d count myself as a foodie so I started with John’s sausage roll.

It’s not your average sausage roll. Inside the ultra crispy pastry, speckled with sesame, is not only sausage meat but tiny cubes of black pudding and chorizo. It sits on a quite spectacular slick of sticky tomato sauce, the house ketchup being reduced down with chorizo. The garnish is crispy sage. Not bad for a fiver and an object lesson in how to send a humble dish dizzyingly upmarket.

Meanwhile my wife was splashing out twice as much for a couple of soft seared scallops partnered, oddly, by a toasted crab and ham sandwich. It works!

I’d ordered a Parsons’ menu regular, cassoulet with Toulouse sausage but the waitress came back saying the butcher had let them down and not delivered any pork belly. That would have put paid to John’s signature dish, Dixie’s Three Little Pigs – a trio of cheek, belly and fillet. It’s named after his daughter.

The pork in the cassoulet was replaced by shoulder of lamb, in a chunk, to partner the duck leg and sausage. But when it came the liquor had been all but absorbed by the breadcrumb topping and was too dry. By the time I found the waitress my wife was halfway through her asparagus and broccoli risotto.

The Black Dog of gloom descended on my shoulders as she finished her main before I had been re-served mine. This time it had perhaps too much liquor but the kitchen obviously wasn’t taking chances. I ate it rather grumpily. To be fair, I’d conceded it was a pretty good cassoulet the time I finished.

We had hoped to share John’s trademark Paris-Brest, a cream-filled choux pastry ring, but despite it being chalked up on the board would not be ready for half an hour. We made do with a very, very runny chocolate and salted caramel tart, which I couldn’t help thinking ought to have been set.

So win some and lose some at the Druid, where the décor has been stripped down to its pubby essentials but the bar area looks a little scuffed. It could do with a lick of paint and some TLC.

Seared scallops with crab and ham toastie

Seared scallops with crab and ham toastie

A new gin blossoms

Elderflower gin in the making

Elderflower gin in the making

We only buy inexpensive bottles of wine from Starmore Boss, that friendly little shop on Sharrowvale Road, Sheffield. That doesn’t stop us looking at more expensive booze. And I had my eyes on a bottle of elderflower infused gin in their window.

We love gin and make our own damson and sloe gins (which have a few blackberries thrown in) so surely, now the elders are blossoming, I could rustle up an elderflower one? By the way, I have solved my elderflower problem mentioned in a previous post – I was looking too early and they are just coming into flower.

Recipes online told me I would need about 20 heads of blossom to a bottle of gin so I set off on what proved to be a profitable morning’s foraging.

I found a couple of trees in a Sheffield park and collected the required amount of blossoms. Most city elder trees are by the sides of roads and you wouldn’t want to pick them because of traffic fumes. Then I had a scout around.

I discovered a couple of cherry trees I had not noticed before but it will take about a month for them to ripen. I have cherry trees staked out across the city. Three gooseberry bushes were full of fruit, tart but well worth picking. I didn’t overdo it, collecting about a pound. Then it was off to a branch of Aldi for a bottle of its Oliver Cromwell London Dry, which beat the much more expensive Bombay Sapphire and Hendricks gins at the 2013 International Spirits Challenge. It got a silver. At £9.99 it’s a bargain.

Back home I shook the blossoms to eject any bugs and cut off most of the stems. The green parts contain cyanide so get as much as you can off. It shouldn’t be a worry: people have been making elderflower drinks for years but you don’t want to be the one who tempts fate.

The blossoms filled a two pint basin. I put four tablespoons of caster sugar in a large, sterilised Kilner jar and poured in all the gin, swirling it in the jar to dissolve the sugar. I packed the blossoms into the jar with a sterilised wooden spoon so they were all submerged. I’m worried if the blossoms are exposed to air they will go bad.

The recipe advises shaking the jar once a day for a week before straining* but if you do this the blossoms will be in the air again (I tried). I’m still thinking about this. Currently the blossoms are being kept submerged by a plastic ‘paddle’ from a large jar of gherkins. I boiled it to remove any lingering pickle taste.

Then I made a gooseberry pie. The fruit goes well with elderflower but I wanted them all for the gin so used a few spoonfuls of elderflower cordial from the bottle I didn’t turn into granita to cook them with first.

The pie was lovely. So, I hope, will be the elderflower gin, ready a lot quicker than sloe or damson gins. I’m looking forward to a glass or two to toast a foraging summer. I’ve just had a thought. Anyone out there made gooseberry gin?

GIN UPDATE: The top layer of blossoms rapidly browned as I was unable to successfully keep them totally immersed. The brown bits were removed (losing some gin in the process) but the problem was back the following day. I think next time I will put the gin in a wide bowl and keep the blossoms immersed with a plate. The gin was strained off after two days, having become a greeny-yellow colour. The verdict is still out on this one, the smell is not unpleasant but not particularly rewarding. I suspect oxidation is the problem. Plan to try again next year!

2016 UPDATE: The elderflower flavour is quite pronounced and the taste is more acceptable. I think my original recipe advising the flowers to steep for five days is a little excessive. This time I’m going to try 24 hours.


Plenty of gooseberries waiting to be picked

Plenty of gooseberries waiting to be picked

Gooseberry pie

Gooseberry pie

Bread and butter pickle

jars of bread and butter pickle

jars of bread and butter pickle

There was a bit of a pong in the kitchen when I came down this morning. That’s my bread and butter pickle ingredients being brined. Despite the smell when you slake cucumbers and onions with salt to leach out the watery juices, it’s my favourite pickle and the easiest to make.

People look at me blankly when I mention it but any American will have no problem knowing what it is. They go for it in a big way, I’m told, having pickling or canning (bottling) parties where groups of women get together to make a batch for the winter from surplus cucumbers.

Bread and butter is a sweet-sour pickle of thinly sliced cucumbers and onions in sweetened vinegar spiced with what you will, in my case dill (or celery) and mustard seeds and a little ginger. It is crunchy and so refreshing. Think of those sliced onions in jars of soused herrings and you’ll get a feeling for the taste.

No one knows how this little dish got its name. Was it because it was a ‘bread and butter’ staple, a poverty food, served in bread and butter as a sandwich? The Americans seem to think so, citing its popularity during the Great Depression in the Thirties.

The story goes it was popularised by a couple called Omar and Cora Fanning, cucumber farmers in Illnois, who turned otherwise unsellable cucumbers into pickle. They were certainly going by 1923, six years before the Depression started, but that doesn’t spoil the theory.

I had always assumed this was a dish taken by the British (or German and Scandinavian) settlers to America and subsequently forgotten by the English but I have no evidence one way or the other. If used as a sandwich filling it is only one step removed from that good old English cucumber sandwich served with afternoon tea.

That doyenne of food writers Dorothy Hartley failed to mention this pickle on her travels round England, nor does it appear in Traditional Foods in Britain (Prospect Books 2004), that compendium of Anglo Saxon cookery compiled at the behest of the European Union. I don’t ever recall seeing it on the shelves in delis and supermarkets.

But why buy it when you can make your own? First choose your cukes carefully. I find the traditional English foot long or more cucumbers are far too watery so try and look out for the smaller varieties on sale in continental supermarkets. I bought half a dozen from the Ozmen grocery shop on London Road, Sheffield. The variety and range of the fruit and vegetables here puts Anglo stores to shame: three or four different kinds of mangoes and aubergines, a big display of leafy vegetables and herbs and so much more. That included the white onions I also bought from there as they are sweeter.

My recipe is only slightly reworked from the one published by Derbyshire Life in 2012.

6 small cucumbers
2 middling white onions
500ml of distilled white vinegar*
1 tbsp dill or celery seed
2 tbsp mustard seeds**
2-3 slices fresh ginger
250g sugar

Thinly slice the vegetables (I used a mandolin) into a colander, salting the layers as you go. Cover, leave overnight and hold your nose
Next day, drain off and discard water (I had 200ml), rinse to remove the salt and drain well. Don’t be in a hurry to do this: you’ll be surprised how much water is retained. I let mine drain overnight.
Heat the vinegar gently to dissolve the sugar (taste for desired sweetness) and add the spices, bring to a boil, simmer for a few minutes then allow to cool slightly.

Remove ginger, add the cucumber and onions to the warm vinegar so all the spices are mixed in. Put a spoonful of the spiced vinegar into the bottom of each sterilised jar to avoid air pockets then spoon in the vegetables and pour over the warm vinegar. The spices will have plenty of time in the jars to infuse. I filled five medium sized jars with pickle. Seal, label and store.

Flavour develops in a couple of weeks but if you don’t have enough left to fill a jar keep it in a bowl n the fridge and eat it over the next few days. I’m still eating last year’s pickle. It’s great as a relish or chopped up and added to homemade fishcakes.

I have a dim childhood memory of my parents serving me up a brew of sliced onions in sweetened vinegar when I was ill so perhaps that’s why I like it so much.

*Don’t pick a murky vinegar, you want to see the lovely green and white slices. Distilled is much cheaper than wine or cider vinegar
** I used black mustard seeds then ran out and added yellow

Little cucumbers and white onions make the best pickle

Little cucumbers and white onions make the best pickle

Homage to Catalonia

Mackerel with gazpacho at Upstairs at Baileys

Mackerel with gazpacho at Upstairs at Baileys

Another Helping went on holiday recently.

Just across the road from me is a funeral parlour. It was the same business, bar a change of name and a lick of paint, almost 50 years ago when I worked here for a local newspaper. Once a week the undertaker, a tall, thin figure dressed completely in black, would emerge with a list of what he called his ‘stiffs,’ the newly departed.

Armed with it, it was my job to knock, uninvited, on the doors of those considered worthy and ask politely if I could interview the widow or widower, or the children, for an obituary for the Beccles & Bungay Journal or, if they were really important, its big brother, the Eastern Daily Press.

Half an hour and a cup of tea usually covered a lifetime. On good days I could rattle off two obits in an evening. “See you on the ice,” said my undertaker friend, handing over the list and shaking hands. He had a wicked sense of humour and a frigid handshake.

The undertaker’s is still there. Opposite was an old fashioned ironmongers but that has long gone. You’d never guess, unless you peered at the menu, that this harbours a Catalan restaurant, quite the oddest thing to find in Beccles, a Suffolk market town just across the River Waveney from Norfolk.

The place is now a deli, Bailey’s, and the restaurant upstairs is called Upstairs at Bailey’s. There’s not a whiff of Spanish as you walk past the newly baked Victoria sponges (although you might note the Serrano ham) but this is not yet another place trying out tapas, Anglo-style.

The owner, the globe-trotting Xavier Esteve, is a coiled-spring of a man, serving from table to table, effortlessly making small talk and charming the pantalones off his customers. Within minutes you learn he came to Suffolk so his English wife could be near her aged parents.

He thought it might be for a year or two until Time did what it had to do (I thought of the undertaker’s list) but Time didn’t. Xavier was an active man, bored, kicking his heels in a small town so he bought a deli, did well, moved premises and opened a café which became a restaurant at weekends. It’s authentic. He’s not the only Espanol on the premises. A couple of young Spanish chefs are in the kitchen.

Three lunchtime courses cost a bargain £13.50 and if portions are small they are beautifully presented and taste, if that’s possible, of sunshine. My starter was a fillet of cold, slow-cooked mackerel on a tower of cubed apple and melon surrounded by a pool of gazpacho. Summer in a bowl. My wife has sizeable parmesan gnocchi, draped with an intense sundried tomato sauce, propping up a couple of prawns.

It goes on delightfully in the same vein: cold hake, a Spanish favourite, with wasabi mayonnaise (not too fiery) with apple and a peach puree, roast lamb (hot) with a leek mash, apple sponge (the Catalans like their apples) and a dessert which is a fusion of pina colada and panna cotta. Xavier says the menu gets more Spanish on the Fridays and Saturday nights it is open.

We are not the only people from Sheffield who have made their homage to Catalonia. A couple from the city who have a holiday home in Southwold are regular visitors. The seaside town is where George Orwell lived while writing A Clergyman’s Daughter.

If you’re in the area you might like to check out the Fox & Goose, Fressingfield, modern British cookery (duck rillettes with foie gras bavarois, trio of pork, hake with roast cauliflower) in a building dating from 1509 and a view of the churchyard from our table. The Crown Hotel at Southwold does great beer (it’s owned by Adnams) and pretty nifty fish and chips.

If you prefer them alfresco take a trip to the harbour and walk along the river bank opposite Walberswick to a wooden shack called Mrs T’s which does them wonderfully well. You order, pay, get a ticket and go for a stroll for 10-15 minutes in busy periods.


prawns with parmesan gnocchi P1020096

Elderflower Unimpressé

Elderflowers and lemon steeping in the tub

Elderflowers and lemon steeping in the tub

I always have trouble with my elders. That’s elder as in berry, flower and tree. I like to make elderflower champagne and cordial but never seem to be in the right place at the right time.

For example I was Down South recently and the countryside was awash with elder in bloom. Back in Sheffield they weren’t. I had to go searching high and low for elder in bloom and found a tree in Chelsea Park.

A few years ago I was reporting on the British Army playing war games in Germany and rested in a hedge smelling headily of sambucus nigra (it can smell of cat pee). When I got back home the season was over.

I almost missed them last year so topped up heavily with mayflower, hawthorn blossoms, which gave my cordial a hint of American cream soda.

I have given up trying to make elderflower champagne. I have bottles in the cellar over five years old. I daren’t touch them. They are a shade too energetic and no matter how gently I ease back the flip-top lid (like those old Corona bottles) the pent up carbon dioxide whooshes out and with it half the booze.

One year my wife and I thought we’d cracked it. She held a bucket at her side and I aimed the bottle at the bucket. Result? Sadly, no. My aim was not true. She was drenched in elderflower champagne. To be honest, I’ve never made a good one yet.

I’ve been collecting elderflower blossoms for cordial in the last week or so. Twenty or so blossom heads (plus a handful of hawthorn), three zested and sliced lemons, citric acid and sugar were steeped in a couple of litres of water for 24 hours then strained into sterilised bottles.

I’ll leave the amount of sugar up to you but don’t follow the amount in the BBC Good Food recipe as I did because the cordial will be far, far too sweet. No one but me would drink it and I have three litre bottles of elderflower unimpressé But we don’t waste in our house. Sweet things don’t taste as sweet when frozen so I turned a bottle of cordial into elderflower granita.

I poured most of a bottle into an empty ice cream tub, added the juice of a couple more lemons and froze. Usually with granita you stir the mixture every couple of hours until fully frozen but this time it refused to freeze until after I’d gone to bed. The next day it was like a Slush Puppy but tastier.

I was tempted to add some alcohol, as I usually do with granita, but I want the grandchildren to enjoy it.

My When Harry Met Sally moment

Rafters' belly pork gave me a When Harry Met Sally moment

Rafters’ belly pork with oriental flavours

I’m thinking 50 Shades of Grey as I sit down in the new-look Rafters restaurant in Nether Green, Sheffield. It’s had a makeover and there are greys on the walls, chairs and tablecloths.

The owners have cracked the whip when it comes to décor and given the place a new look from top to bottom. Sheffield-made Carrs Silver Sterling cutlery with Rafters engraved on the blades gleams under the brand new lights.

A splash of colour wouldn’t go amiss I say then I realise it’s on my plate. My starter of belly pork arrives, a colourful assembly of glazed brown meat, green purple sprouting broccoli and an orange blob of sweet potato. But the real colour is in the kaleidoscope of flavours on my tongue.

Forget 50 Shades, I’m having a When Harry Met Sally Moment although I’m not making any noise except Mmmmm. The Moss Valley pork has been cooked very, very slowly (72 hours) so the soy-infused meat is so soft under its sensuous fat you could cut it with a glance.

Flavours are given an extra oriental twist from the crushed cashews pressed on top. It’s very close to what foodies used to call an orgasm on a plate.

I was going to have the smoked trout when I overheard a woman at the next table order it with passion in her voice. I’m having what she’s having! Madam, you were right.

We’re here for an anniversary Sunday lunch at a place where, if restaurants were in the habit of giving long service awards to diners then we’d get one as we’ve eaten here through all the changes of ownership over more than 20 years.

It started by a couple who re-upholstered all the chairs themselves to save cash and had a chef who hated cooking with onions, was taken over by brothers Wayne and Jamie Bosworth, then Marcus Lane joined Jamie until Marcus ran it himself before selling up to a duo from the Devonshire Arms, Middle Handley, front of house man Alistair Myers and wunderkind chef Tom Lawson. He’s 23.

We arrive at the restaurant with its newly painted exterior to be asked “Is it any good?” by a chap studying the menu outside while his wife chose new windows at the shop next door. “If you have any money left over, go,” I joked.

Rafters has long had two USPs: good quality food and consistency. You may well pay the price (£42 before coffee in the evening, £34 for three courses on Sundays) and portions can seem small but you do get the full whack when it comes to taste and flavour, plus all those little extra bits: a trio of amuse bouches came one after the other and there is a pre-dessert.P1020222 Rafters  sirloin

Breads are engaging: a sticky black treacle granary, black pudding bread in the shape of a banger and a classy sourdough white with an eggshell crisp crust. Full marks to pastry chef Jodie Wilson. And while we’re giving accolades my wife says the sticky toffee pudding is the best she’s had.

Traditionally I’m a roast meat man on Sunday and the sirloin here is soft, tender and if it could moo, it would. All the trimmings matched up – sweet glazed carrots, a sophisticated cauliflower cheese, sprightly spring greens and turned roast potatoes, all crisp exteriors and creamy insides. And here’s my only complaint: three spuds is not enough.

My wife had a fishy lunch. Her starter was buttery-tasting scallops on the sweetest of roast fennel. Loin of cod sparkled brighter and had more flavour punch than you’ll get in a chippie. It came poshed up with a crab beignet (fritter), crabby sauce and tarragon-spiked gnocchi.

They do some decent wines by the glass: my Old Vines Garnacha from Spain (£6 for 175mls) was a pleasing, juicy, soft red wine.

If I’m sounding enthusiastic it’s because I was. This is highly expert, ultra confident, sparkling cooking backed up by smooth, professional service. When the bill came (this was not a freebie) it was almost a joy to pay. It was certainly a joy to eat.

Rafters is at 220 Oakbrook Road, Sheffield S11 7ED. Tel: 0114 230 4819. Web: http://www.raftersrestaurant.co.uk

Rafters' new exterior - in grey!

Rafters’ new exterior – in grey!