I once reviewed a restaurant where I took a dislike to the house merlot, with good reason. It was a vile, rotgut brew, fit only to scour the family porcelain. I advised readers to avoid it at all costs.
Some months later I revisited the place off duty, for I liked the food, forgot what I had written and absent-mindedly ordered the merlot again. Ugh! It was just as bad.
In a similar spirit I recommend you dodge the carrignan-merlot at Sheffield’s Showroom cinema restaurant, a wine so sour your stomach will feel like the aftermath of a rough night in Barnsley. A duff bottle? Perhaps. I only bought a small glass and, you know how it goes, sipped too much making sure of my judgement to take it back to complain.
The food is better. It’s been some time since I visited the Showroom, abandoning it for the newer, sleeker, posher Curzon but the Curzon doesn’t have a restaurant. The Showroom does and there’s a novelty here. Jon Tite is the first vegetarian head chef I’ve come across in an omnivore restaurant, in charge since Simon Ayres beetled off to the Cross Scythes at Totley.
So I’m not sure how big a part Jon played in my venison burger (£10). It was a fattie of a pattie, juicy not dry, with just that hint of gaminess you want. Trimmings were good, too: a flat cap mushroom, a little rectangle of rarebit spiked with Henderson’s Relish and chunky skin-on chips.
A burger has to go some to impress me but I certainly was. And it was the bun wot did it. “Freshly baked bun” said the menu and I was prepared to accept this as more an aspiration than a promise. But no, where other buns are tasteless impersonations of cotton wool, this was a warmish, firm, doughy and slightly yeasty specimen which quite complemented the meat.
I see from the website they run bread making courses. You could do worse than sign up to learn how to get this bun in your oven.
My wife had a variant of the fish finger sandwich (5), here crispy goujons of hake, moistened (but not enough because we had to ask for more) with a caper mayonnaise. Full marks for the hake, a fish which delivers taste.
The Showroom is currently running a fundraising drive to give the place a much needed revamp. Let’s hope they spend a few quid on the wine list.