Here in Sheffield we are lucky to have a variety of brilliant restaurants, serving dishes from some of the country’s greatest chefs.
From Raffina, the brainchild of MasterChef star Reece Elliott, to Juke and Loe, which was recently named one of the UK’s top 100 restaurants, the steel city is spoilt for choice. Having spent most of my time here as a student, I have not had as much chance as I would like to make the most of the city’s excellent culinary offerings, though.
On a mission to change this, I’ve been treating myself and trying out some of the more upmarket offerings. This week, I opted to visit a Michelin plated restaurant for the first time in my life.
And I will admit I went in with some preconceptions, expecting the portions to be overpriced but undersized and the atmosphere to be slightly snooty. But I will be the first to hold my hands up and say just how wrong I was.
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As soon as I stepped into Brocco Kitchen, through the garden’s vines and into the homely yet sophisticated dining room, I felt at ease. I was then greeted by my friend and our server, Pamela, who could not have been kinder if she’d tried. After explaining we had never visited before, she talked us through the menu, recommending two to three of the small plates per person.
Eager to find out why the Ecclesall Road restaurant was listed in the 2022 Michelin Guide, we decided to get stuck in. We ordered four options from The Gardener section of the menu to share – my friend and I are both vegetarian – plus a side each, and a glass of wine and a gin.
I’m pleased to report that as well as offering as many vegetarian options as meat options, a rare find even as restaurants become more inclusive, the vegetarian dishes were well thought-out, rather than playing second fiddle to the rest of the menu. Indeed, it was evident lots of care has gone into the menu, which also includes seafood options, plus vegan, dairy-free and wheat-free and gluten-free offerings.
Similarly to a tapas restaurant, to use our server’s comparison, the dishes were served as and when they were ready. First came a mozzarella dish served with sun dried tomato, wild nettle vinaigrette, and toasted pinenuts. We received our seaweed wrapped tofu, with pea veloute and crispy potato at the same time.
All of the flavours in the first dish complemented each other well, and I would got so far as to say I have never enjoyed nicer mozzarella. While I didn’t find the tofu as appetising – I personally prefer to enjoy tofu when served hot – I would order it again. The seaweed-wrapped offering paired well with the crispy potato, which added a satisfying crunch to eat mouthful.
Next up was spiced halloumi with caponata, lemon yogurt and toasted almonds. This arrived at the same time as our two well-sized sides – parmentier herb potatoes. While the lemon yogurt was everything I hoped, I can’t say the spiced halloumi was particularly spiced. It is not until I checked back the menu as I write this that I realised it was even supposed to be spiced; nonetheless, it was crisp yet chewy and much-enjoyed by both of us at the table.
The potatoes, which were needed to bulk out the meal, given we opted for just four dishes as a pair (the lower end of the number recommended by our server) were a highlight. It was nice to go back and forth between this salty offering and the sweet-tasting braised carrots, our fourth small plate, which arrived soon after the rest. Served with tomato relish, basil oil, and sultanas, this was my least favourite of our dishes. It was enjoyable, but I feel it was not as exciting as our other choices, which felt more innovative in their flavour pairings.
All of the above being said, these points are what made my meal so enjoyable. It was nice to have the option of the carrots, just as it was nice to dip back and forth between the potatoes and halloumi, and to enjoy the range of flavours. The well-salted potatoes were a particular favourite of mine, which I would recommend to anyone visiting.
And while the name small plates was accurate – the dishes are larger than a typical start but smaller than a main – my friend and I both felt full by the time we finished our meal. Sitting in what felt like it could be a relaxed wedding venue, enjoying food that was hard to fault, I didn’t at all mind the cost when we were served our bill, and I will most definitely go back.
Having spent just over £30 each, and having enjoyed a meal that was evidently made with a lot of thought and care, I left happy. And I can’t wait to go back again.
- Fevertree lemonade £2.50
- Pinot blush £7.50
- Passionfruit gin single £4.10
- Parmentier herb potatoes x 2 £7
- Burratta £12
- Seafood wrapped tofu £10
- Spiced halloumi £11
- Braised carrots £9
Brocco Kitchen, 92 Brocco Bank, Sheffield S11 8RS
Vegetarians, vegan, wheat-free and gluten-free options available
Book online or call 0114 266 1233