THERE’S a new restaurant at Sheffield’s West One which goes by the irritatingly silly name of Moo La La.
They did try and explain it to me but in the words of one of the owners “it sounds silly when you say it.”
Now Moo La La, sorry, I’m going to have to call it the Silly Old Moo, makes a big thing of proudly proclaiming that it “works with Sheffield farmers and suppliers to source a bit of the countryside and deliver it right to the doorstep.”
It lists them on the menu.
Good for them although it’s what every decent chef worth his Maldon salt is doing these days.
I hadn’t realised they took it so seriously until I ordered the nettle soup (£3.95).
“I hope your nettles are local,” I smirked.
“From Devonshire Green,” said our waitress. For those unfamiliar with this part of central Sheffield it’s the patch of ground just across the road.
“But what if a dog has cocked his leg on it?” (As this is a family newspaper this is a bowdlerised translation.)
“It’s been sterilised,” she insisted. Well, I am all for foraging. I enjoyed it – a bit like a spinach soup – with only the odd stalk, served up with slices of good bread from the Bakewell Pudding Company.
My wife had the asparagus, goats cheese and spring onion tartlet (£4.95), which she imagined would be, well, a tartlet, but turned out to be a quiche, pretty good although low on goatiness.
The Silly Old Moo is in the premises of what used to be the Indian eatery Dosanj, a good idea which didn’t take off. It retains its open kitchen at the end, a banquette against one wall and pleasing local pictures. We sat under Clouds Over Oughtibridge.
The restaurant is run by Lisa Levick and Matt Mosley, and their partners, who have hired former army chef Garry Dodd to specialise in British dishes such as fish and chips, Welsh rarebit, bangers and mash and prawn cocktail along with more summery dishes such as salmon in a parcel and sea bass ratatouille as well as steaks and burgers.
Our order was taken by Kathryn, Matt’s other half, whom we remembered from Zizzi in Orchard Square about three years ago.
Kathryn is one of the city’s best waitresses, very jolly, very Sheffield and a tiny bit in your face, with none of this nonsense about writing down your order. She has risen from assistant to general manager at Zizzi and I can understand why.
Nothing is too much trouble.
She was the best part of our meal then and again today.
For our mains we ate off the summer specials board and my wife went for the salmon with Henderson’s Relish in a parcel (£10.45).
Now I guessed this was never going to be a good idea – Hendo’s contains spirit vinegar, acetic acid and cloves – but gave Garry the benefit of the doubt.
Perhaps if the fish had not been overcooked or swamped with relish it might have stood a chance. But it was and it had been. There is no other word but awful.
One good point: the foil parcel was opened at the table to release the aroma for the diner, not the kitchen.
I’d already seen the kitchen struggle with culinary terms like tartlet but wasn’t prepared for what followed with my rabbit medallions (£11.95).
Now a medallion is an oval slice of meat and I was thinking Garry would have to do some pretty nifty butchery on the saddle or haunch. What I hadn’t bargained for was getting three mini rabbit burgers.
They tasted bland. They came with some spinach, game chips (home made crisps) and a little shot glass of ‘Bloody Mary,’ home made tomato sauce with Hendo’s.
The whole lot was hardly more than a mouthful. I looked enviously at the bloke on the next table with enough roast pork belly to feed a platoon.
I’d been stung. Perhaps that nettle soup was slow in kicking in. So I’d had what amounted to two starters,
We shared the assiette of desserts (£8.95): a trio of puds (lemon tart, bread and butter and cheesecake) which can be summed up in one word: sturdy.
I don’t want to knock a new business and our experience was not shared by the next table. He of the mammoth pork belly was loud in his praise to Kathryn.
My advice is to junk the salmon with Relish and send the rabbit to the starters with a proper menu description.
We paid £40.25 for food, £5.85 for drinks (a glass of wine and a half of Bradfield Brewery’s Brown Cow bitter) and £3.90 for poor coffee.
Still hungry, I wandered off across Devonshire Green in search of a nettle to nibble.
Moo La La
Address: Unit 12, West One, Fitzwilliam Street, Sheffield S1 4JB.
Telephone: 0114 276 276.
Open Mon-Wed noon- 10pm, Thurs until 10.30pm. Fri-Sat 12-11pm. Sun 12-10pm. Licensed. Vegetarian dishes. Children’s menu. Lively music. Credit cards. Disabled access and toilets. Public car park opposite.
My star ratings (out of five):