HEAD chef Steve Jarvis has never been to Peru but he knows a bear who has.
And take it from Jarvo, as he is known to his mates, Peruvian food is the Next Big Thing.
If so, he’s ahead of the game because the Andean country’s national dish, Lomo Saltado, is already a big seller on the new menu at the Lone Star restaurant on Division Street, Sheffield.
Now you might think of Peru as all llamas and Machu Picchu but there’s a definite Northern twang to this dish which centres on chips and gravy. Of course, there’s more to it than that!
The Chinese brought this to Peru as a beef stir-fry but Steve, 42, who took over the kitchen just before Christmas, cooks beef shoulder until it pulls into strands in a sauce with onions, vinegar and cumin, which provides intriguing base notes. Then it’s served with chips and rice: double carbs but they’ve got to keep the cold of the Andes out of their bones, I suppose.
It was a new one on me and something I savoured. It’s also a hit with customers, although how they know about a Peruvian dish Steve himself found on Pinterest beats me. Perhaps it’s the friendly waiting staff who push this one, available in two sizes at £5.95 (enough to serve as a tapas along with others such as Baba Ghanoush or crispy, crunchy, fiery Korean popcorn chicken) and £11.95.
We’re here at Steve’s invitation. He’d just left Rotherham College of Art and Technology for a new life in catering after a career in building when he emailed me at The Star to recommend the college training canteen. We popped round to review and enjoyed it. So we reckoned Steve knew a good thing when he saw it, even if it was his own.
At 32 when he switched from building conservatories to catering, he was one of the oldest students there. It came about on the death of his gran, whom he enjoyed cooking with as a kid, so maybe there is a connection.
He’s cooked around the area since college and “eight years in I have still got my mojo,” he says. Well lomo has helped him keep it!
Lonestar, opened last year by Barnsley-based Brook Leisure which runs Sheffield’s Crystal Bar and other nightspots, is in premises previously occupied by Costa Coffee.
It’s towards the town end, not that far from the City Hall, so somewhat off the student beat. In fact, the majority of customers are 35 or over.
To the casual observer the menu covers a lot of ground, from tapas to sourdough pizzas, Mexican to Moroccan, with a good line in cocktails offered on a two for £10 basis. Or as Steve puts it, “Here, there and everywhere.” Or as they say in the guides, eclectic.
It still is but he’s introduced a pie (in answer to Pieminster which has opened up across the road) and that safety-first dish fish and chips to cater for all tastes. Lonestar is running a Pie Week from March 2.
Our other main was a very pleasing curried cod (£12.95), nice, firm flesh, mildly spiced in a mango sauce on a bed of potatoes and cauliflower.
Not everything is made in-house. The popcorn chicken (£5.95) isn’t nor the bao buns (£6.95), but the filling certainly was, juicy pulled pork given a sweet edge with a little apple.
Lonestar is a friendly place with pleasant staff and prices which won’t scare the horses. And if you try the lomo saltado and like it, word is that Jarvo has another Peruvian favourite up his sleeve.
And just to keep the Peruvian theme going, the toilets are up a couple of flights of stairs so it can feel like climbing the Andes on a lomo-full stomach.
*This blog ate at Lonestar as a guest