Five star service at Elmwood Farm

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It glows in the winter gloom of the valley like a shrine to the cult of the New Pub.

Floodlit and splendidly isolated, Elmwood Farm at Beighton pulls in the converted and the curious in huge numbers from across the hills and vales beyond.

It’s a bit of a phenomenon.

Up to 6,000 meals a week are served in the new-build pub that opened in August 2013 and has been rocking ever since.

Can there be a busier boozer in Sheffield and what are they doing that gets people there in their thousands every week?

We went on a wet Wednesday in early January and the 360-cover dining areas were at least three quarters full at 7pm.

Elmwood Farm, Beighton. Picture: Andrew Roe

Elmwood Farm, Beighton. Picture: Andrew Roe

Our genuinely friendly and helpful greeter took us to our seats and explained how the Elmwood Farm system works.

How it works is you choose something from the menu, go to the counter and order it or choose something from the specials board or go for the carvery which, with the exception of some pretty leathery-looking roast potatoes, looked great.

Families, young and old couples, groups of mates, mums and daughters come to Elmwood farm because they know what they’re going to get, how much it will cost and that staff will be courteous and helpful.

Portions are good, the menus are comforting and familiar and they keep a decent pint.

The food is hearty, hot and wholesome but it’s not gourmet or gastro-pub food, it’s Greene King chain pub food, some good - like the cod in the fish and chips - some average - like the chips in the fish and chips.

I chose steak and chips for our other main course with starters of chicken tikka and poppadom salad and a portion of barbecue chicken wings.

The poppadum was fine, the promised yogurt and mint a little on the stingy side but the chicken was tasty and nicely cooked though also lacking a little something.

The chicken wings were good and as meaty as chicken wings can be but the sauce lacked excitement.

My top-of-the-range ribeye steak was ordered medium but came well done on the outside and bloody in the middle.

I should have sent it back but I was hungry so just got on with it. If I had complained I have no doubt it would have been dealt with with charm and efficiency.

The steak was tender with a nice marbling of fat for juiciness and with lots of flavour.

It came with a peppercorn sauce - £1.50 extra – chips, quartered mushrooms that would have been better more browned in a frying pan, and peas.

The large cod was suitably huge.

The white flaky fish was excellent and the batter crisp and crunchy on top but not exceptional. Good mushy peas with it too, with texture and taste, exactly what vinegar was invented for.

Throughout our meal people came and went and were greeted, seated and waited on by friendly, cheerful staff offering friendly, cheerful food.

Then there are those cakes.

Elmwood Farm makes its own and a sensational sight they are.

Kept behind a teasing, patisserie-style glass counter their giant gateaux, billowing meringues and towering cliffs of sponge are like something from a fairy tale.

And they are all made on the premises, says Elmwood manager Tim Smith who runs the place with his wife Debbie:

“We have a team of girls who come in to make the cakes every day,” said father of two Tim, originally from Pontefract .

“The best thing is that they’re not like ones you get out of a box. They sometimes don’t come out quite the perfect shape but that’s part of their charm. They are extremely popular.

“ We pride ourselves on not having a big turnover of people. If you’re training new staff all the time you can’t be fully focused on service.

“We are part of the Greene King chain but we are allowed some choice and we are getting in local beers and our vegetables come from Moss Valley which we like.”

Elmwood’s ‘Cakeaway’ service is very popular with people who have already eaten enough and who take a piece home with them to have later.

Again I would have loved to say that the cakes were as good as they looked but I found them, though huge and beautiful, a little bland. We had a Mars Attack and a Cookie Dough Cheesecake. The Mars cake had caramel and chocolate and plenty of filling but could have done with a more intense chocolate hit - though you could say the same about the Mars Bar itself.

The cookie dough cheesecake was sweet and with a rich fluffy texture but needed more kick in the taste department.

Its critics will say that this is safe food for the unadventurous and to a point it is, but a lot of people love it.

Its devotees are committed, they get great service and their yearning for comfort and familiarity is satisfied,but it will take a little more culinary inspiration for non-believers to become full converts to the cause.

With a decent espresso to finish off, three courses cost £43.80.

Elmwood Farm, Beighton Business Link Park, Old Colliery Way, Beighton,S20 1DJ Tel: 2878098

Food served Mon - Sat: 11:30-21:30. Sun: 11:00-21:00

Star ratings out of 5:

Food 3

Atmosphere 4

Value 4

Service 5