Sunday, 12 April 2015

A Smokin' lunch deal

Smoke - St Paul's Place - 17/03/15

We have been planning to go to Smoke since it opened in Sheffield, and when we saw an offer for it on the ‘NowThen’ mobile app, we just couldn't resist it any more. The Now Then app aims to promote and support local, independent businesses in Sheffield via promotional offers and discounts. There are a range of offers available, from shopping and eating out, to chiropractics, yoga and oven cleaning! It’s definitely well-worth downloading =D

Before we jetted off to Budapest for Tom’s Birthday, we decided to fuel up for the journey at Smoke. The offer we used during this visit was ‘Two Lunches for £10’ at Smoke. This gave us two main courses from the lunch menu, for £10, between Mon-Fri 12-5pm.


We opted to share the Hot Dog and Brisket Butty, both of which were served with chips, a gerkin, red cabbage slaw and ketchup. The Hot Dog also came with sweet mustard. On the table, a bottle of sweet and smoky BBQ sauce was provided - this was awesome and took a lot of restraint not to take the rest of the bottle home! =P We also opted to share two sides; the Pit Beans were smoked mixed beans with peppers and onions in the sauce too, whilst our Side Salad included lettuce, grated carrot, peppers, radishes and spring onions, all in a light dressing.

Emily: The brisket meat fell apart beautifully in the mouth; whilst it was tender and juicy in the centre, the outside of the meat was crisp and charred. The hot dog bun was nicely toasted, which meant no soggy bun, and the sausage itself was tomatoey and nicely spiced, similar to a bratwurst. We were both impressed with the portion sizes and thought the meat was fantastic. Tom enjoyed it so much that he decided to take some away with him on his shirt and trousers - maybe not the best look to start a holiday with =D We washed this down with a Diet Coke and Fentiman’s Cloudy Lemonade, both served in retro-style jar glasses, before we soon decided that dessert had to be done too ;) 


Tom: I went for the Banoffee Pie Jar, which was a deliciously indulgent combination of cream, chocolate, banana, toffee sauce and a digestive crumble. The only criticisms would have been that the toffee sauce could have been more malty/caramel and that I would have liked a bit more of the digestive crumble at the bottom.

Emily: I went for the Smores, a buttery biscuit-cookie, topped with melted marshmallows and chocolate. This was very gooey, yummy and super-sweet, although could have been nicer if warm.

Ambience and Service

We felt the service was very quick and friendly; however one thing did seem a bit weird. Instead of taking orders on a usual notepad, the waiters used mobile phones. This felt odd as it just seemed like they were texting when taking orders - which they may well have been, but we’ll never know! Other than that, the rustic décor was great and suprisingly comfortable. 

Final Review (Marks out of 10)

Food: 8.0
The meat was awesome for both mains and we will probably end up trying to 'borrow' the bottle of BBQ sauce next time we visit =P Also very impressed with the little touches and extras that we didnt expect. It was just the desserts that let it down a bit.

Ambience and Service: 8.0
Very prompt and friendly service, but still weird to use phones for orders - they could maybe use a stylus or something to make it look a bit more formal? Also a very open, light and warm atmosphere, helped by the rustic furnishings

Value for Money: 8.5
In the end, this worked out at £31 for mains, sides, desserts and drinks for two. The basic 'Two for £10' offer is incredible value for the size and quality of the food. We wouldn't pay as much for the desserts in future though. 

Emily and Tom rate this as Easy-going and Tender (meat =P)

Eat Cheap, Eat Well, Eat Local + Homemade Sausage Rolls Recipe!

Eat Cheap, Eat Well, Eat Local.
by Emily

Its been quite a hectic month and we can’t believe its been so long since our first post! But over this time we’ve done plenty plenty of eating - so here are the long overdue updates =D

Living on a budget has been a big part of our life at University, luckily finding quality food doesn't have to come at a hefty price. Both Tom and I have been lucky enough to live in Crookes (Sheffield) during different points of our degrees. Here the high street is littered with small, independent retailers bursting with local produce, ranging from meat in the butchers to fruit, veg, cheese and yoghurt at the greengrocers. Its great to find a variety of fresh and different ingredients often at a smidgen of the price you’d find in the supermarket! Here are some of the shops available just round the corner.

Meat iconMeat-Claever iconChicken iconMeat-Mallet iconMeat iconMeat-Claever iconChicken iconMeat-Mallet iconMeat iconMeat-Claever iconChicken iconMeat-Mallet iconMeat iconMeat-Claever iconChicken icon

Urban Pantry
Retails local meat, dairy and bakery products. 

Also great for new flavours and gifts

Hayman's Family Butchers
Great for meat to cook for dinners, or even a hot cob!

Local Butchers and Bakers

If you want a bigger variety of inexpensive, quality cuts of meat, then look no further than your local butcher or deli shop. These stores will likely stock your favourite joints for your roast dinners as well as a wealth of new, home-made twists to try; see my recipe below for some 'tastier than your average' sausage rolls.
Not only this, but they also prepare other in produce in store, such as bread (rolls, cakes, cobs baps - whatever you want to call them), cakes and lunches to go.

Lettuce iconGarlic iconCarrot iconCauliflower iconLettuce iconGarlic iconCarrot iconCauliflower iconLettuce iconGarlic iconCarrot iconCauliflower iconLettuce iconGarlic iconCarrot icon

Just Natural
Greengrocer that also provides organic, free-from and alternative ingredients
Greengrocers (may contain milk)

If you've ever paid a couple of pounds for a bag of carrot batons, you've been ripped off. Not only are you buying food that isn't fresh but you're paying well over the odds; carrots from your local grocers should cost around 80p per kilo. We're talking pennies for fresh, unprocessed, locally sourced food!
Greengrocers are by far the best places to get your fruit and veg for the week. Their only downside is that they may only stock seasonal foods and thus your favourites may not always be available.
A bonus at Just Natural (above), is that is also offers a range of dairy products, like freshly made yoghurts, cheeses and milk. On top of this it also sells a huge range of nuts, seeds, cereals granolas and MORE! We couldn't recommend this shop and others like it any more!

Home Made Pastry and a bit of Exotic Sausage
As we are now both studying for our PhDs at different Universities, we only get to see each other every fortnight, so this week I embarked on teaching my housemate, Daisy, how to make sausage rolls. For this, we first made some Rough Puff Pastry. The recipe for this was:

250g Plain Flour (You can use normal or Strong/Bread Flour)
250g Butter, chopped into cubes
large pinch of salt
upto 150ml cold Water (You may not need it all!)

1)    First we placed the flour, salt and butter into a large mixing bowl, and combined roughly so that small blobs of butter were still visible. You can either do this either by using a pallette/blunt knife, or using your hands to rub it together - just made sure your hands are fairly cold, otherwise you’ll melt the butter.
2)    Next we added ~100ml Water, mixing together to form a ball of dough, with more water gradually added depending on how dry and crumbly the mix was.
3)    The dough then needed to be wrapped in cling film and left in the fridge for about half an hour.
4)    Once chilled, we floured the work surface and sculpted the ball into a rectangle. It was rolled out to an elongated rectangle, at about 1cm thick with dimensions of ~20x50cm.
5)    To give the rough puff layers, the dough needs to be folded. For this, we folded the bottom third up over the middle section, and folded the top third over that. Rotate the dough 90*, roll out again and re-fold. We did this three times, in the hope we would get some good layers!
6)    After the final fold, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge again for atleast 30mins. We left it overnight, which is also fine.

For the filling, we took a trip to Urban Pantry, where they stock sausage meats from Moss Valley, and as they had such a good range, we went for three different flavours: Chorizo-style, Pork and Caramelised Onion and Pork and Apple.

To make the Sausage Rolls:
1)    We took the chilled pastry from the fridge and rolled out to a thickness of a pound coin (~½cm). If it is too much to work with, chop the block in half and do it in two lots.

2)    Next we broke up the meat patties, cut strips of the pastry and plonked the meat filling in. To make the rolls, place the meat in a line down the pastry, making sure the pastry is wide enough to wrap around the filling. 

To make Pinwheels, spread the filling across almost the whole area of the pastry, roll it up from one side, then cut into sections. Also make sure you brush a bit of milk on the sealing edge of the pastry, and over the tops to help them brown nicely. You can also slash the top of the rolls.

3)    Once we made the different shaped and sizes rolls, we placed them on a baking sheet and cooked at 200*C for 20-30minutes, until they were golden in colour.

We would have got a picture with more of the pinwheels in, but they didnt stick around for long and were soon gobbled up =P

This sorted two of us for lunches for the week - winner! Another thing we might try next time is using extras like pate, chutney or mushrooms to fill the rolls even more. Let us know in the comments below if you beat us to it though =)

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Valentines Day 2015

Le Bistrot Pierre - Ecclesall Rd, Sheffield - 14/02/2015

With Valentines Day soon upon us, we thought it could work as the perfect start for our blog. So here is our first restaurant post!

Tom booked us in for the St. Valentin menu at Le Bistrot Pierre. Although it was pricier than what we would normally go for, our previous visit to the Sheffield restaurant left us blown away, and we couldn't resist trying it again for a treat.

As an apertif, we shared French bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar served with a whole bulb of roast garlic and mini honey-roasted chorizos. The garlic was roasted until soft so could be spread on the bread - its definitely something we want to try at home! We were also given a small flute of Sparking Saumur Rose which went down a treat =)

Entreés or Starters if you're English

Tom: To start, I chose the Confit au Saumon. Confit of poached salmon wrapped in Scottish smoked salmon with a dressing of fennel, dill, cornichons and baby capers. The dish was well presented but I found it was quickly let down by the lack of flavour in the two types of salmon. The smoked salmon wasn't as smoky or salty as I would've liked and confit may be something I've never really understood flavour-wise. The capers, cornichons and lemon dressing brought a much welcome tangy edge to the dish.

Emily: I decided to go for the baked St. Marcellin cheese with rosemary, served with lightly spiced pear chutney and sourdough toast. The cheese was creamy, nutty and earthy in flavour, and had a mix of textures, from the gooey centre to the tougher rind. The chutney was also very sweet and nicely spiced, tasting similar to the inside of a sweet strudel. The two worked great together and felt very indulgent. We also ordered a bottle Viognier to share for during dinner - we wont pretend to be wine connoisseurs, but it was a nice white wine that was fruity =)

Plats, or Mains

Tom: I went with fillet of sea bass with crayfish tails, steamed mussels and ratatouille. I love my seafood, so I had to take the opportunity to have three types on one plate. The sea bass was almost perfectly cooked, perhaps a little overdone for my personal taste but was a good portion and gave me the seafood hit I was looking for. The crayfish tails furthered the fishy feel giving nice concentrated pockets of flavour. However the mussels and ratatouille stole the show! I would guess the mussels were cooked in the sauce of the ratatouille and every single one of them exploded with tomatoey goodness and were seasoned to perfection. I wolfed down every morsel of the main and grabbed a spoon to lap the sauce up so not a mouthful was wasted... bloody lovely!

Emily: I am an absolute sucker for lamb, so it was a no-brainer for me! I went for Epaule d'agneau á la Marocaine: Moroccan spiced slow-cooked lam shoulder with pine nuts, pearl couscous, mint, harissa and dried apricots. The meat was really tender and completely fell apart - making the massive steak knife I was given rather pointless. It also had a crisp, harissa skin, which was topped with sour cream. This gave a good balance to the dish, as it was very rich so needed something else to make it less heavy. Also the giant pearl couscous and chickpeas brought an extra set of textures. Both Tom and I shared the dauphinoise potatoes and vegetable side dishes. They were both seasoned great, with the potatoes indulgently creamy and the vegetables cooked well, whilst still retaining bite.


To finish, we both opted for the Délice au chocolat, a chocolate torte served with blackcurrant ice cream and hot pouring chocolate.

Tom: The torte was deliciously indulgent. I loved the richness of the chocolate and the sharp and sweet blackcurrant ice cream married (Thanks for the word Em) well together. My only criticism would be the simplicity of the dish. I think I would've enjoyed the torte more if another flavour was integrated into the torte, may be orange or raspberry. That said I loved the pudding and came close to watching Emily lick the bowl.

Emily: I did love it that much =P It was incredibly light with a texture similar to gluten-free cake. The blackcurrant ice cream made it for me, and reminded me of when my mum used to make it when I was younger.

Ambience and Service

Our waitress during our visit, Amy T, was friendly and attentive. Upon being seated, we were immediately brought our complimentary glass of Saumur and drinks followed shortly behind. They were also aware of the limited space at the table and helped avoid it becoming cluttered by keeping our wine and water within reach on a shelf behind our table. On top of this, they were quick to clear our empty plates and glasses.

The restaurant itself had undergone the usual ambience shift for valentine's day, but unlike smaller restaurants, they hadn't tried to squeeze more diner's in than they could accommodate, giving us plenty of space. The lamplight and candlelit dining area will be our excuse for the slightly dark photography (apologies), but at least we had fun making the neighbouring tables jump every time the camera flash went off.

Final Review (Marks out of 10)

Food: 8.0
On the whole extremely tasty and good portion sizes, better than your standard a la carte. However, there were elements such as the confit and the torte that could have been improved to make it hit the high marks.

Ambience and Service: 9.5
Spot on! The staff were welcoming, warm and made every effort to make the visit enjoyable. The restaurant was atmospheric from the decor to the music, it was just a little dark at times.

Value for Money: 5.0
This grade is no criticism on the food itself. The price is just substantially higher than what we would like to pay normally. This is especially emphasised by the fact that for two Tuesday's a month, you can pay less than £25 for a six course dinner at the same restaurant. We'll blame this purely on the Valentine's day hype.

Emily and Tom rate this as Expensive and a Treat