A Sunday lunch, in which I am overfaced by Mr Brown

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Cary Brown explains a concept at Barlow Woodseats Hall

YOU know that old cliché about tables groaning with food? Well ours was. There were slices of very decent beef the size of rosy red doorsteps, wedges of tender pork so big they could almost have been a pig, wings and breasts of chicken, ribs of lamb, sausages wrapped in bacon and stuffing like golf balls.

 And then they brought the Yorkshire Puddings, the size and shape of cumulus clouds, with crispy crunchy roast potatoes posing as cannon balls. A big dish of cauliflower cheese followed, with another of vegetables. And a half pint jug of proper gravy. Talk about trencherman food: this could have filled a WW1 trench.

 “Right,” I said to my wife.”We’re going to tackle this the Victorian way, eating slowly.” But it beat us in the end and we were the ones groaning – with pleasure. If we had carried on we would have been like Monty Python’s Mr Creosote and exploded.

 “This is like going to an all you can eat buffet, only in this case they bring it to your table and it tastes of something,” I added.
 

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Just part of the main course

We haven’t had a Sunday lunch like this since that time at the Royal Oak, Millthorpe, and it was the same chef. So if I couldn’t tackle all that food I went to tackle the man responsible, Cary Brown. “Sunday lunch should be a time for indulgence. If people say I’ve overfaced them I don’t get offended,” he said.

 Cary has had almost as many venues as I’ve had hot dinners and that’s saying something. A month or two ago he and his partner Shelley spectacularly left the Devonshire Arms at Middle Handley after a dispute with the owners, draining the place dry with free beer for friends and regulars. Since legal matters loom we’ll say no more.

 He has popped up at historic 16th century Barlow Woodseats Hall, down a lane called Johnnygate that leads to nowhere except this former home of the famous Bess of Hardwick, the Elizabethan lass who had four husbands and ended up as the Countess of Shrewsbury. She and Robert Barlow were only 14 at the time and he died within a year.

 IMG_0226 Long Barn at Barlow Woodseats 13-08-2017 13-54-38.JPGTo be more precise Mr Brown has popped up in the Long Barn next door, a magnificent Grade II listed medieval cruck barn which, the last time I looked when reporting for the Sheffield Star was a cowshed knee deep in manure. That was in 2006 when the Milward family put the hall on the market for a million quid and right next door was a working farm, all smells and moos.

 I never checked to see if it had sold but if I had I could have reported it was bought by Nick Todd and his family, a partner in the long established Sheffield auctioneers and valuers, Ellis Willis & Beckett. He did up the hall, bought the barn and it is now a weddings and functions venue and, with Cary at the stove, a pop-up for Sunday luncheons and afternoon teas. The next will be in September and, at £25 a head, you get a doggy bag to take home.

 Nick and Cary, who met over the bar at the Royal Oak just down the road, have big plans for the barn, which comes with several cottages built from the old stables, still with some of the original features plus up to the minute wet rooms, kitchens and four poster beds.

 My wife Sue and I take a break for air after that main course (but before Shelley’s lovely passionfruit cheesecake and chocolate profiteroles) and Nick walks us around the garden with a brace or two of peacocks who have just been in the family way, orchard, pond, tropical garden and lawns. He may have a posh house but he’s not sniffy about letting guests enjoy the surroundings. He seems to enjoy sharing them.

 We join Cary later for coffee and he’s busy tossing culinary concepts up in the air like a juggler with plates. Here’s one. “It can be sweet and it can be savoury but you’ll have to wait and see,” he grinned. Here’s a clue: it’s on wheels. Oh and did I mention the Sunday lunch was absolutely first class?

 *Check Cary’s Facebook and Twitter pages for details of the next Sunday lunch in September. Details going up soon on www.barlowwoodseatshall.com

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Is this the perfect Yorkshire pub?

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Topside of beef blushing pink

THEY do things differently at the Board Inn, Lealholm, a little village tucked away in a valley in the North Yorks Moors. My wife Sue has ordered the scallops in butter sauce as her main and the waitress has just asked her if she’d like a Yorkshire Pudding with it.

“With scallops. Why?” she asks, surprised. “Because it’s Sunday,” the waitress says, as if it is the most natural thing in the world. Sue is about to say no when I intervene. Oh yes she will. I’m having the topside of beef and this way I’ll get two Yorkies. Actually I get three because when my plate arrives there are already two big crispy puds on it.

Everything about the Board Inn is supersized. At most pubs the biggest struggle is between choosing the beef or the lamb or possibly the pork. Here you have to make your mind up between three beef dishes, topside, rib or slow-cooked silverside, all supplied, as a blackboard of breeders, growers and suppliers helpfully informs, by M Wood, a local butcher.

I’ve written before about the pub here. Let your imagination run wild on what your ideal boozer would be and the Board Inn (established 1742) exceeds it. On the banks of the River Esk, it has two unspoiled bars and a dining room decorated with prints and pots and fishing rods, B&B rooms, real beer and good food cooked by landlord Alistair Deans, mostly from ingredients grown within a radius of a couple of miles. The fish is a bit of a problem. It comes from Whitby seven miles up the road.

It’s a perfect sunny Sunday with the sounds of light jazz and show tunes coming from a mature five piece swing band playing on the wooden decking over the river outside the dining room window. With a two girl, three man line-up, they’re the Esk Valley’s answer to Fleetwood Mac.

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Sweet scallops with lardons and lemon butter sauc

Lealholm, a pocket-sized village of some 50 homes but still managing to fit in a school, post office and general stores, ice cream and sweet shop, petrol station, garage, post office, three churches, two tea rooms, three water fountains, a garden centre, public toilets and a railway station, is fortunate to have the pub.

Until Alistair and his wife Karen arrived in the summer of 2007 things looked grim on the banks of the Esk. By all accounts the atmosphere at the pub was cold and it opened erratically. “It went up for sale and there was talk of it being turned into a house. There was talk of clubbing together and buying it as a community pub and the next thing we knew it had been sold,” says one resident.

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The blackboard menu at the Board Inn

Alistair had form. A former Smithfield butcher, he had run a foodie pub in Sheringham, Norfolk, before heading north. He keeps in touch with the meat business by raising his own cattle “fussed over by Gill and Richard Smith of Wood Hill Farm,” according to the blackboard, and cooking it.

I can tell my wife her scallops are going to be good because I order a smaller version to start with: three tender, sweet little pieces cook with lardons of bacon in a herbed up lemon butter sauce. She has five complete scallops. They have been cooked precisely, are sweet and come with their corals. I mention this because I was once visiting a restaurant kitchen in France and annoyed the chef because I was horrified he was cutting them off and throwing them away.

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The Board Inn beside the River Esk at Lealholm

The topside comes in two slices the size of paving slabs – well, cut thickly at about a quarter of an inch – and are pink as requested, juicy, easily cut and as tasty as they come. It’s the sort of meat you roll aroud your mouth to give all your tastebuds a treat.

The gravy, with more in a jug, is full of meat juices and if the roast potatoes are a little on the plus side of done I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m wondering if the Board Inn is the perfect Yorkshire pub.

We are full but nothing is going to stop me having a rhubarb sundae, full of sharp-sweet poached fruit and homemade ice cream. Sue has an enormous portion of rich beetroot and chocolate cake.

We sit, replete, with our coffees and listen to the band. Sunday lunches don’t come any better than this, we think. And that’s before I go to the bar to pay to discover that someone has already settled our bill.

Visit www.theboardinn.com

*We visited while on holiday at the delightful Prospect Coach House in nearby Great Fryupdale a couple of miles away. The two bedroom holiday let is available through www.sykescottages.co.uk

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The band plays on at the Board Inn, Lealholm

Explosions of flavour down on the farm

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‘Scotch egg’ starter – there’s mango in the yolk

CHEF Cary Brown and I are peering at a little pyramid of pink peppercorn meringue. I take a bite and after the initial burst of sweetness comes a very peppery hit. “Too much!” I say. He shakes his head. “Now have that meringue with the pineapple.”

 I cut a piece of the fruit, which has been macerated in Sheffield rum and Malibu, then blowtorched, pop some meringue on my spoon and eat them together. The pepperiness has retreated gracefully into the background but is still there in a bath of pineapple and coconut flavours.

 “That’s very good and I don’t even like pineapple” says Cary, late of the Devonshire Arms, Middle Handley, and like me a judge in a heat at Whirlow Hall Farm’s annual cheffy contest, Sheff’s Kitchen. It may be for charity but the chefs take it seriously so we do, Cary even turning up in his whites.

 Whirlow’s own head chef Stephen Wallis is up against Scott Philliskirk from the Hidden Gem. They have each got a budget of £150 and one sous chef to cook for 23 paying guests and one judge. Diners eat either from the red or black menu and don’t know who is who.

 Cary and I decide the fairest way to judge is to eat liberally from each other’s plates and compare notes as we mark the scores in a series of categories. We quickly realise that while guests may have paid £30 a head they are getting a bargain with meals easily worth £40 – £45. And what is also impressive is the high degree of skill and dedication on show as well as different styles of cooking.

 “We are being very picky,” I murmur as we carefully deconstruct each course – is this pork too dry and this sauce too reticent? – which other diners are happily wolfing down. “We have to be,” says Cary, relishing the task.

At Whirlow there is really only one kitchen plus a bit of one so as Stephen was on home territory he generously offered the main one to his opponent and, with the help of a couple of bain maries, found himself plating up in the courtyard. Thankfully, it didn’t rain.

 Dish of the night is red menu Scott’s cannon of lamb, an explosion of flavour and so tender it almost hurt, rolled in crushed pistachio (“with a little bit of garlic,” notes my fellow judge) with a stunning roast cauliflower puree. Even the fact that the fondant potato could be softer doesn’t detract.

 Yet Scott, who won the popular vote from diners, didn’t win the contest. Stephen inched ahead, first with a complex starter of a ‘Scotch egg’ with a yolk made from pureed mango and carrot. He lost out on the main as the lamb rump delivered to the judges was a little undercooked. We’d been served first and noted that other plates would have rested that little bit longer and the meat would have been that much better. Chefs in future rounds may want to take note of this.

 But he won on a Battle of the Spuds, his carefully constructed smoky potato terrine fighting off the fondant.

 By now there was only a point or two in it. Which chef would get his just desserts? And that was the course we were judging. Was it Scott’s peppery pineapple backed up by a ginger mousse, coconut milk ice cream and ginger crumb? Or Stephen’s Whirlow strawberries, dark chocolate terrine, honeycomb and dark chocolate tuille?

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Whirlow’s Stephen Wallis plates up in the yard outside the restaurant!

 Perhaps it was the richess of the terrine or the unexpected sherbet hit from slices of dehydrated strawberry that just tipped him over the line first.

 I found it extremely instructive sitting down with a professional chef and examining the food mouthful by mouthful. Of course, you can get too technical and I was there to provide the viewpoint of the experienced diner with some 1,400 restaurant visits under his belt.

 “What dish would I eat again, the one with the technical expertise or the one which blows me away?” muses Cary. We hope we got it right but in a sense we didn’t. “Both of you deserve to be in the final,” he tells the two chefs.

 Charlie Curran of Peppercorn takes on Chris Mapp from the Tickled Trout in the next heat on August 13 but all the tables have been fully booked. There are tables available for the semi-final at Sheffield College’s Silver Plate restaurant on September 28, a much bigger venue than Whirlow Farm. To book visit http://www.sheffskitchen.co.uk

 *Cary Brown judged just 24 hours after quitting his excellent restaurant at the Devonshire Arms, Middle Handley, a fish-orientated stay which lasted only 14 months. It would be accurate to say the parting was not amicable. He’s considering his next move. “I’ll come up with something.”

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Scott’s cannon of lamb

A few more shots from the evening.

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Stephen (left) and Scott before the cooking begins

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Final touches to the pineapple dish

whirlow's dessert

chefs and judges at whirlow

Chefs and judges

A little of what you fancies . . .

P1060302 scones and fancies at Flying Childers 05-07-2017 17-21-16

Scones and fancies at the Flying Childers

I’M raising a cup of Darjeeling in the finest Wedgwood china during afternoon tea at Chatsworth, in honour of a horse called Flying Childers. In fact, we’re in the restaurant named after this 18th Century stallion once owned by the second Duke of Devonshire.

With six wins out of six the Duke wouldn’t sell him for his weight in gold. No matter that three of those wins were walkovers, the old boy (the horse, not the duke) went on to sire a champion called Spanking Roger.

And spanking, as in spankingly good, is how I’d describe the twelfth duke’s Wedgwood Afternoon Tea which costs £35 a head. Why, you could almost buy a Wedgwood china sugar bowl for that money. An extra tenner gets you a glass of champagne.

Our table top can hardly be seen for pretty, delicate Wedgwood in bright patterns and colours. There are plates, teapots, cup and saucers, a sugar bowl, milk jug, tea strainer bowls, gold coloured Wedgwood cutlery – a cake knife, fork and spoon – with a Wedgwood china dish to rest them in.  Only the sugar cubes aren’t Wedgwood. “When it arrived we were terrified of breaking anything,” says café manager Meire Heard. So are we and I nearly succeed when my tea cup tips over.

The new menu was launched in March and has been a hit. Chatsworth has invited my wife and I as guests to see just how good it is. The restaurant is in a glazed arcade which runs the length of one side of the old stable block and the first thing you notice is a painting of the eponymous horse.

Walking to our table we pass a party of Japanese women enjoying their scones and jam. The way the Flying Childers does it, this English tea ceremony is almost as complex as their own.

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Coronation Chicken was our favourite sandwich

First you are asked to choose your champagne (if you’re having it) and then the tea. Don’t look for PG Tips or builders’ tea. And it’s loose. A teabag at the Flying Childers would be a scandal. There is Earl Grey but as my wife is already wearing Earl Grey and cucumber perfume she doesn’t want to be mistaken for a tea pot so opts for  full-bodied Ceylon while I have fragrant Darjeeling. “My grandmother told me to always put the milk in first so it wouldn’t crack the china,” says my wife. I’m thinking of my mother who would always crook her little finger whenever she had a naice cup of tea in a naice place to match but this is 2017 so I don’t.

The Wedgwood Afternoon Tea is treated like a three course meal (cheaper versions are available). First comes some ‘gin and tonic’ cured salmon, cut thickly, with a citrusy crème fraiche, salted cucumber and rye croutons. It sparkles as much as our champagne.

This is followed by a plate of sandwiches and tartlets: Coronation Chicken, egg mayonnaise and cress and ham and chutney sandwiches in white and brown bread, and two beautifully done miniature pastries: a goat’s cheese, pine nut and red onion tart in a red (beetroot juice?) embossed pastry case which crumbles as you touch it and a more robust but still excellent pesto and vegetable quiche.

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Goats cheese tart: so tiny but big in flavour

It’s the pastry work at Chatsworth which always has me purring in admiration. There is more in evidence in the third course, the scones, cakes and fancies. The scones, cherry and sultana, are tiny but light and moist. The fancies are terrific: A Black Forest ‘gateau’ is hardly that although it comes with a couple of drunken boozy cherries in a box of the crispest pastry. There’s also a zippy lime and rhubarb shortbread cheesecake, well-scented Earl Grey panna cotta and little kiwi fruit tarts.

The only thing we’re wary of is the macaroons because we fear a sugar rush but, at the risk of sounding like a Two Ronnies’ sketch, I’m glad to see Chatsworth insists on two Os in macaroon and not this new affectation for calling them macarons.

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The Flying Childers restaurant

If all this seems like indulgence you’d be right. The menu wickedly urges you to ‘indulge yourself’ several times. But even gastronomic hedonism has to come to an end.  After a relaxed hour there are just crumbs on our plates (but not many) and a lonely macaroon, while the glasses of Laurent-Perrier champagne have been drained. It is expensive but you are paying for first class service, elegant surroundings and some wonderful patisserie work.

Plus a memory or two. For us it’s already up there with afternoon tea at The Ritz, cucumber sandwiches, harpist and all.

# Wedgwood Afternoon Tea costs £35, with champagne it’s £45. You can book online at www.chatsworth.org or drop in. Teas are served between 2 and 4pm.

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This painting of Flying Childers is at the restaurant entrance

Definitely not the same old poutine

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John Parsons’ poutine at the Beer Engine

POUTINE sounds like a female follower of Russia’s President Putin but actually it’s a foodie fad which in my sheltered life I’d never come across until a year or two ago. It’s the Canadian version of cheesy chips, that student stand-by, although as I grew up in the Fifties and Sixties the most exciting thing to eat was a late night Wimpy. We never went exotic and put cheese on chips.

Back in 2015 I saw it on the blackboard at Jonty Cork’s eponymous little café on Sharrow Vale Road, Sheffield, and asked what it was. He’d been taught it by a Canadian houseguest who was on a cheesemaking course at Welbeck School of Artisan Food.

The idea was to cook some chips, add cheese curds and bathe the lot with gravy. It is, apparently, a fast food dish which started life in Quebec, the mostly French speaking province of Canada. As I recall Jonty had a bit of a problem getting the right curds – apparently they have to be the same size as the chips – until he settled on a squidgy German mozzarella.

Well it was breakfast so I didn’t get to taste Jonty’s poutine although I saw it on other menus and, once, chalked on a wall. As I’m a bit of a food snob there never seemed to be a cheesy chips moment and then it seemed to fade from fashion.

But I’ve been going to the Beer Engine at the bottom of Cemetery Road quite a bit lately and noticed it on chef John Parsons’ menu. Still, I shunned it in favour of dishes like pig cheek ragu, dipped ox cheek sarni and crab and prawn rice rolls. Then, lunching with fellow foodie blogger and Masterchef contestant Craig Harris, we reckoned that if ever there was a cheesy chips moment it was then.

John makes no claims to it being authentic but says it is his Sheffield version. He didn’t use the word but I will, superior. It is listed as Sheffield Poutine: cheesy chips and ox liquor gravy with cinema cheese sauce. I had to ask what this last was and was told it squirts out of a bottle. See what I mean about a sheltered life? The chips were big and fat. The cheese sauce (curds are not the way with this dish) was a béchamel with cheese (I forget which), spiked with paprika, and the gravy the left-over liquor from the ox cheek. It was lovely with a glass of Neepsend Blonde.

“It’s been on the menu since I started. It’s a case of using up whatever is in the kitchen,” said John. It costs £4 and fills you up splendidly. There’s a veggie version but you’d miss the best element, the ox cheek liquor. So is it poutine a Quebecker would recognise? Probably not but I’d take this any day.

We had only one complaint: you needed a hunk of bread or a spoon, which we got. John was taking no criticism. “You do this” – and he mimed picking up the dish and drinking the gravy down – “particularly after a few pints!”

Check out the Beer Engine at http://www.beerenginesheffield.com and Craig’s excellent blog at http://www.craigscrockpot.wordpress.com

STOP PRESS: John Parsons has now left the Beer Engine (as from August) and is mulling over new plans. It is certainly still worth a visit, particularly for the Korean chicken wings.

Pigging out with Smithy

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Pork belly at Thyme Cafe

I RECALL a few years ago that chef Richard Smith got a bit of a kicking from some London critic who had been to review his then flagship (now deceased) restaurant, Thyme, in Crosspool. There were the usual clichés – yawn – about being Northern, the Full Monty, Sheffield steel and, the killer punch, Sheffield Portions.

 The point being that the food being served up was not London portions, dainty little bits of food which left you hungry, but plates which left you feeling stuffed. Well, you don’t have to eat it all, advice my wife and I should have taken after a bit of a blowout at Thyme once when we had eaten so much we had to find a friendly wall to hold us up when we left.

 Smithy was a bit perplexed by the criticism. Sheffield folk liked Value For Money and that meant big potions, he said. I told him not to bother and he didn’t.

 I’m thinking all this after failing to finish my Saturday lunch pork belly with mash (£15) at Thyme Café, the sprog of Thyme, in Broomhill. Mr Smith shares the running and ownership of this restaurant with the self-effacing Adrian Cooling, who always left it to his partner to handle the publicity.

 Perhaps it’s my age but I don’t eat as much these days. Or it really is a big portion. Whenever I see pork belly on the menu I am drawn to it like a moth to the flame and must have reviewed dozens of them. While Thyme Café never seems to get into the guides, this pork belly is up there with the best of them: a satisfyingly brittle and generous shard of crackling, exceptionally tender and flavoursome meat, silky cum crunchy grain mustard mash, sweet roast carrots, a slice of black pudding, good cider gravy and, the only jarring note, severely undercooked green beans. I’d hoped by now this fad for super-crunchy veg was over.

 In the end I was defeated but not substantially. It was then I’d noticed that a girl at the next table had taken delivery of a cheeseburger with trimmings the size of the Isle of Wight while her friends were eating chicken Caesar salads, although they were almost of Mam Tor proportions. She got halfway through it then, wisely you might think, swapped it for a friend’s salad.

 My wife was having chicken (£16), a whole chicken breast rubbed with the Arab spice mix za’atar, stuffed with an olivey mix, served with couscous, fried breadcrumbed cubes of feta (note to try this at home), red pepper, roast courgette, butternut squash, almonds and mint. You might think this enough but the kitchen thought it was ‘a bit dry’ said the restaurant manager, announcing it would also be swerved with dollops of hummus and tzatziki. I tasted the chicken and it was good.

 I was surprised she finished it and then had room for a pudding. I didn’t. But they gave me a spoon. It was a quietly superb almond tart (£6) with an excellent pastry case, warm, slightly sticky almond filling and topped with apricot compote, or as the menu would have it, tea-infused apricots. It was a paragon of puddings which would not have been out of place at the old Thyme. I’m just sorry I was too stuffed to think of taking a picture of it.

 I complimented the kitchen on the tart and got a friendly wave from the larder chef responsible. The bill for food was £37. When I was reviewing I had a special rating for VFM. This would have got five.

 

A meal with eel appeal

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Smoked eel with blood orange

THERE’S a special bond between chef and diner when you’ve eaten his brains and so there is between John Parsons and me. Not that I’ve eaten his but the sheep’s brains he cooked for one of his legendary offal* evenings. They were crisp on the outside and creamy inside, if you’re interested.

So the news that he had left his berth at the Druid Inn, Birchover, for the inner city Beer Engine on Sheffield’s Cemetery Road, tucked in just behind Waitrose, got me scurrying down to try his new menu.

I’m ashamed to say I had not recently visited the Beer Engine, run by Tom Harrington (who opened on April 2, 2015, a day late because he thought people might suspect an April Fool) but it’s a delightful little pub. There are three rooms, two with carpets, the main bar with a scrubbed wooden floor, and it feels very welcoming. When the sun is shining there’s a beer garden cum smoking area.“People say it’s got good vibes,” says Tom and he could be right.

There are no one armed bandits, pool tables, slot machines or a telly but there is a bookshelf or two if you’re stuck for something to do. I should imagine that’s still many people’s idea of a proper pub.

I first came across John’s cooking at the predominantly fishy Terrace at the Millstone, in Hathersage, then followed him to Food and Fine Wine on Ecclesall Road, Fancy and the Druid.

People have praised the Beer Engine tapas in the past but John and Tom have upped the ante somewhat with more complex ‘small plates’ which you can match with the beer, lager, cider or wines on offer. With John, a thoughtful chef, expect the dishes to vary between the interesting to the downright exciting. As is the smoked eel with blood orange (£6), a favourite when he’s doing food and wine tastings, but one I hadn’t previously encountered. It’s sensational.

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Artichokes any way you want!

The eel, delightfully smoky and crispy at the edges, rests on a bed of firm, toothsome lentils. There’s a cylinder of salsify, a vegetable you don’t always encounter, and the dish is garnished with salsify crisps. The eel and orange is a match made in heaven because you’ve got smoke and sweetness mingled with earthiness on your palate. “I can only do it for two months a year when the oranges are in season,” he says.

You may have met Tom at the Sheaf View, Blake or Hilsborough Hotels. Prior to the Beer Engine he worked for Thornbridge Brewery. Way back when he helped out at the old Beer Engine in his youth. Now he has resumed a partnership with John they had at a restaurant they worked at in exclusive Cheshire. Finding that John was ‘resting’ he offered him a month’s mutual trial on Cemetery Road.

It looks like it’s paying off. Food sales are on the up. For me, the second dish was a toss up between pig’s cheek and black pudding with ham, cabbage and pork liquor or pollock and squid with celeriac, kale, buckwheat, lemon and squid ink (this is one of those menus which list every ingredient) but in the end I had neither. Instead, for a fiver, I had a dish which could be listed as artichoke anyway you want and some ways you’ve never thought of.

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The BeerEngine’s bar

The dish uses Jerusalem and globe artichokes, as a puree, roasted, crisps and as hearts, with the earthiness and sweetness riff replayed, this time with roast figs doing the honours. There was something labelled ‘tobacco’ which I didn’t quite register. It didn’t have the same knockout appeal as the eel but intrigued.

“I don’t want this to be my idea of a good pub but customers’ ideas,” explains Tom, who promises a series of beer and food tasting evenings. Mine, with a half of very decent Neepsend Blonde, was an impromptu mini lunch tasting.

“The menu won’t stay the same, it will keep changing,” says John. The motto in this kitchen is Everything fresh, cooked ‘til it’s gone. So get there before the Blood Orange season ends! For offal lovers, duck hearts are promised shortly.

The Beer Engine is at 17 Cemetery Road, Sheffield S11 8FJ. Tel 0114 272 1356. Web: http://www.beerenginesheffield.com Food served Mon – Thu 12–3pm and 5pm–8pm, Fri – Sat: 12pm–8pm, Sun: 12pm–5pm

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John Parsons and Tom Harrington in the Beer Engine kitchen

* John’s adventures in offal http://wp.me/p5wFIX-2Q and here’s what happens to the humble sausage roll when it gets the Parsons’ treatment http://wp.me/p5wFIX-dh