I RECKON the waiting staff at Tonco, that quirky little restaurant tucked away in the corner of Dyson Place, Sheffield, play Menu Bingo in idle moments.
And the one who draws croquettes usually takes the prize.
It’s the most requested dish most days says our server Simon.
Small wonder. I remember one with courgettes in the summer, all creamy interior inside a crisp, dry shell. So I’ve got my taste buds cued up for the blue cheese and Jerusalem artichoke with a quince aioli. Now there’s a novelty.
But it gets sidestepped by a special described as ” Hog’s head with our own brown sauce. “
It sells itself to me because I am a sucker for pig’s cheek ( if I decipher the restaurantspeak correctly ) and want to compare the sauce to my own homemade concoction.
It’s good, the meat shredded and studded with tiny diced carrot in the trademark soft filling, the exterior a satisfying crunch.
And the brown sauce gets my approval. Ten years ago every chef around was making it and it’s good to see at least one kitchen giving it a reprise. This is made with prunes, apples but no onions to give people who can’t eat alliums a shout out, according to the chef.
Tonco, run by Joe Shrewsbury and Florence Russell ( Jo and Flo) and named after a long-forgotten Barnsley soft drink, also does a nifty line in ravioli. I have fond memories of a summery one filled with goats cheese last summer.
Today’s has a roast beetroot filling, pleasant enough, but there are wedges of beetroot garnishing the dish and, even more, pallid yellow beetroot which barely makes a contribution, so this is rather overdoing things.
Wisps of cavolo nero just irritate but roast hazelnuts provide crunch against good firm pasta. This time the goats cheese is outside, as a sauce.
Tonco still has its lunchtime special offer of three dishes for £22 and the house wines are fairly priced. There always seems to be something to intrigue on this menu even if this diner is not necessarily entirely bowled over.
I always associate Tonco as having a bit of a thing for turnips. Perhaps beetroot is the new turnip here.
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