YOU CAN tell a great deal from reading a menu but not everything. For a start it helps to know who the chef is.
But let’s keep you guessing for a moment.
We’ve shelled out £50 a head for a pop up night at the bijoux Rendezvous cafe, all bricks and blackboards, on Baslow Road, Sheffield, and are busy reading the no-choice menu.
We open with garlic mushrooms on toast, very bistro, very Seventies, although it would not have been sourdough back then.
Then on to gin-cured salmon (it’s Loxley), a dish which everyone – even me – is doing although I doubt many end up like tonight’s offering, half-cousin to a plate of sushi, the flesh like jelly in texture with the tang of juniper.
Then rump of lamb with, a nice touch, gnocchi and creamed leeks, the meat lifted by a whiff of intriguing smokiness. Smoke powder? Nah.
Only later do we learn the chef had seared the joint on the barbecue in his back garden, before finishing it off in the oven of the Rendezvous’ cramped kitchen.
You’ll gather we like our meal so time for the Parade du Chef!
It is Jamie Bosworth, who first set Rafters on the road to glory ( with his late brother Wayne) and who has long been lost to the city’s restaurant scene for the family-friendly world of development kitchens.
But not entirely. His monthly pop-up supper club “helps to keep my hand in,” he says, doing a tour of the tables afterwards.
Missing restaurant life Jamie? “When I drive by Rafters I think it would be good to have another restaurant but at the end of service here I’ve changed my mind,” he grins.
It’s good stuff
After an amuse bouche which is a sort of mac n cheese arancini served with a sweetish black garlic sauce, now beloved by regulars, we’re on to the garlic mushrooms.
These, too, have a cheesy ring to them and come with a smooth home made Henderson’s Relish-type chutney, made by blitzing the sauce ingredients.
But it’s the salmon that’s a knock-out. It fairly quivers, being only very biefly cured (under an hour, I think), then poached in water at 60 degrees to finish up trembling to the touch like a maiden’s bosom. It’s set off by a gribiche (hard boiled egg and mustard) mayonnaise.
While the dish is as salmony as you could want, it’s the texture which scores most, soft and slithery on the tongue.
From the subtle to the punchy. Barbecuing in Jamie’s back yard saved time in the kitchen, where wife Jayne stands at the oven and just has enough space to put things in and take out.
We end with caramelised pear served with a pink peppercorn shortbread.
Pop-ups are fun. It means things are more relaxed in the kitchen while out front diners are only to be happy to enjoy what’s on offer.
As it’s BYO with no corkage and coffee and sparkling water is thrown in for free, it’s a win, win, win situation all round: for the Rendezvous, Jamie and the guests.
Check out his Facebook page or the Rendezvous for the next event.
PS: The poor pictures are mine, the rest I nicked from Jamie.