The trouble with ordering sausages when eating out is you run the risk of something arriving on your plate which looks, not to put too fine a point on it, like it’s filled with the sweepings from a pig shed.
Sausages are a gamble. They’re high hazard. They come with the implicit threat that you may be coughing up a tenner for a meal the chef has poured from a tin.
I still remember the premium bangers, mash and tomato gravy I once had at a Peak District pub. Premium was presumably code for shrivelled. The tomato gravy wasn’t gravy at all. It was warmed up tinned tomato juice.
The sausages at The Three Tuns, happily, are in another class.
This old-school city centre boozer, in Silver Street Head, has recently started doing hot food for the first time in years after being taken over by Andy Stephens, the man behind The Rutland Arms, in Brown Street, and The Closed Shop, in Commonside.
He transformed the fortunes of both those by offering a range of ales and a simple menu of home-cooked grub at wallet-friendly prices. The belly pork occasionally served at The Rutland, in particular, is wonderful.
Now, he’s hoping to do something similar with the new place.
As a pub, of course, The Three Tuns is already pretty popular. Its mahogany furnishings and mix of high tables and snug low seating make it a pleasure to pop in for a pint. Many of the neighbourhood’s office workers have long considered it a jewel. But Andy reckons by adding food (and putting on six real ale taps), it can attract clientèle from further afield.
“The only problem at the moment,” he concedes, “is the kitchen is so small there’s not actually room for an oven. We’ll be making some changes to fit one this month but for now it’s cooking by grill and hot plate.”
In the absence of starters we shared a bowl of Stilton and broccoli soup, which was thick and pungent with flavour and had a crouton in there that was the size of a breadcake.
For the mains I took that gamble on the sausage and smoked cheddar mash - and came out a winner.
This isn’t spectacular agenda-setting food by any means but the thick bangers had an authentic pan-fried feel to them.
The mash, meanwhile, was creamy and whippy and hinted - rather than overpowered - with its cheese tease.
Her falafel burger was similarly impressive, served on pitta and sidelined by chunky chips, a rustic salad and yoghurt mint dressing. It’s probably not right to say something made from chickpeas had a meaty feel to it, but it did. In a good way. There are no desserts - unless you count a pint of Bees Knees Bitter - but, then, for now, that’s part of the deal.
In short: if you want simple food done well and at affordable prices (£21.05 with drinks), it’s no gamble to go to The Three Tuns.
My star ratings out of five
Venue: The Three Tuns, 39 Silver Street Head, Sheffield, S1 2DD
Tel: 0114 327 6211