WHAT is it with Sheffield? You wait years for a decent steakhouse and then two come along at once.
First the London Club in Surrey Street, now the Bar & Grill in Leopold Square.
Both have something common – you have to search them out.
London Club is through a door and down a flight of steps. The Bar & Grill is just a doorway to a steep flight of steps above Zizzi.
If you haven’t got an appetite those steps will give you one – particularly if you fit in a trip to the loo, up as far again.
The place was opened at the end of November by Huddersfield businessman Richard Downey, who has a bar and nightclub there. He was a salvation for the square’s developers.
The space where we are now toying with our chicken livers and mussels had been originally reserved for Hooters, an American bar featuring buxom girls in tight T-shirts, which might well have been awash in a sea of testosterone and fizzy lager.
Fearing this - and claiming it would lower the tone of the square – much the same band who had protested against Spearmint Rhino did so again. This time they got a result.
The décor of the Bar & Grill – not to be confused with places of that name in Manchester or Leeds – is more gentleman’s club than gentleman’s evening: all heavy oak, leather banquettes and perhaps the comfiest leather chairs I’ve ever parked my bum on for a meal.
The dining area surrounds a square bar with a zinc top and the restaurant overlooks both West Street (not much to see apart from trams) and Leopold Square, a more interesting view.
With a Saturday night pianist it makes for a very attractive venue.
There have been rumblings on the local chunternet web forums about the prices, largely because of a confusing menu, now being adjusted. People are ordering chips when they already get them.
In the kitchen is head chef Chris Lawrie, aged 31, a local lad previously at Piccolino and the Macdonald Hotel.
The core of a steak bar menu is the meat, most of it sourced from a pal of Chris’s in Derbyshire. As you read this the offer will have been widened but an 8oz rump, rib-eye, sirloin or fillet will cost you £12.95, £14.95, £15.95 or £20.95 respectively. Sauces are inclusive.
If steaks are not your thing there is fish, sausage and mash, pies and spatchcocked chicken. There was barely anything for veggies on the original menu but that’s being changed.
The breads are good here, nice chewy little rolls which came with our starters. We couldn’t work out whether we got them because the kitchen had clocked us or you get them anyway.
I began with a dish that Chris, aged 31, brought over from Piccolino: chicken livers Veronique (£5.50). The menu doesn’t call it that but it is. Brilliantly flavoured, still pink, in a rich sauce of Madeira and cream, with grapes as garnish, every mouthful is worth savouring.
The kitchen offers a choice of the way it cooks your mussels (£5.50): my wife thought she’d chosen them with chilli, garlic, coriander and ginger but got the bacon, spring onions and cream version although the bacon was not much in evidence. Whatever, they were sweet, juicy and plentiful.
My 8oz sirloin steak came on a wooden board with a dozen chips, nicely grilled field mushroom, grilled tomato with flakes of garlic and enough watercress to be a “green” so we didn’t really need the buttered spinach or new potatoes which added another £2.95 each to the bill.
It was a very decent steak, a tince chewy as you expect with sirloin, with good fat and a full flavour. It came with a little jug of béarnaise sauce, just beginning to split.
My wife’s tandoori sea bass (£16.95) arrived on the longest plate we’ve seen, at least 24 inches, with the fish in the middle, and rice (which the menu didn’t mention) and raita at either end.
The spicing was better than in many Indian restaurants so it was a pity the fish itself was overcooked.
I liked an old-style American baked vanilla cheesecake (£5.95) although the blueberry compote with it had an odd medicinal taste. Lemon tart (£5.75) was very lemon curdy.
Service was pleasant and relaxed, we never felt rushed, and our meal made for a good, luxurious night out.
The bill for food was £61.50, although we could have saved £5.90 not ordering vegetables. We had two glasses of good house wines (£6.10 in total) and excellent coffees (£3.90).
Bar & Grill
7 Leopold Square, Sheffield, S1 2JG.
Telephone: 0114 273 9399.
Open all week lunch and dinner. Sunday roasts (two courses £12.95). House wine £14.95 (and by the glass). Credit cards. Ask in advance for gluten-free. Disabled toilets and access (lift from West Street). Website: www.barandgrillsheffield.co.uk
My star ratings (out of five):