Now that’s a blast from the past! Looking at the menu of Jamie Bosworth’s ‘pop up’ restaurant at the Rendezvous cafe, Totley, one dish leaps out at us: the tea smoked salmon. It was the dish his late, talented brother Wayne introduced to Sheffield back in the Nineties.
It was new to the city and became a sort of classic although since then seems to have fallen out of favour until recently. Jamie credits his brother on the menu.
We disagree over where we ate it. Rafters, I say, referring to the restaurant the Bosworth brothers ran together at Nether Green. Brasserie Leo at London Road’s Charnwood Hotel, she says.
Jamie, after the meal, solves the riddle: it was at Henfrey’s, the posh little room upstairs at the Charnwood. Wayne used to smoke it on demand then and serve it hot. We had it and thought it lovely. The Yorkshire Post critic complained that the aroma made him think it was November 5.
He might have had a point. One night Wayne was cooking with Nathan Smith, now at the Old Vicarage, as his sous and Nathan put the hot pan on the vinyl floor, welding the two together.
Tonight the salmon is not smoked on demand – there are 24 covers to be fed from a tiny kitchen with only four rings – but is prepared in advance. The smokiness from the Earl Grey tea is subtle, the overall impression, aided by a citrus miso glaze and little blobs of pickled cucumber jelly, is a starburst of flavour.
“With such a small kitchen I have to think very carefully about the menus,” says Jamie. But if not everything is cooked, rather than assembled, on the night there is some impressive attention to detail.
Canapes of crab fritters come with a spicy mango ketchup which makes me yearn to get the recipe and copy it (I forget to ask). Goats cheese arrives in a creamy swirl with roasted beets, a crostini and, oddly, hazelnut praline.
The main course is terrific: a tender slice of Angus beef which had been barbecued first so the fatty exterior was crozzled into lip-smacking sweetness, a rich wild mushroom and truffle oil gravy moistening it.
‘Pop ups’ have become trendy, of late, but Jamie points out he has been running them for the last five years. This is his third location, suggested by his daughter Katie who, following in the family tradition, works there as a waitress.
Jamie has left behind his restaurant days – Rafters, Bosworth’s at Sheffield United and his acclaimed Taste gastro-café – and is now development chef for Jigsaw Foods and available for private hire. The once a month evening is highly popular and helps to scratch an itch, I’d guess. With a waiting list of around 60, Jamie ran the menu on two successive nights to eat into the backlog.
We finish on a lovely note, an Amarula flavoured panna cotta in a Kilner jar. It’s a South African liqueur. Again, there’s plenty of work involved. There’s a very rich chocolate orange ganache, some honeycomb and a white chocolate crumb. Not so much that your palate loses a sense of direction but enough to maintain interest and surprise.
Five courses with coffee cost £28. Well worth it.
Rendezvous is at 185 Baslow Road, Sheffield S17 4DT. To book a table call 0114 235 0884