Sheffield Road, Eckington. 01246 432771
Handles for forks, hammers, scythes and spades.
That’s what they used to make in the nineteenth century in the building that’s now the Mossbrook Inn.
That history and the history of the city is echoed in hundreds of forks, knives and spoons that line the walls in a nod to the building’s and Sheffield’s industrial past.
As is the food and pretty much everything else about the Mossbrook Inn, part of the Premium Country Pubs chain owned by Mitchells and Butler.
It’s a beautiful building, tastefully renovated last summer with open fires, atmospheric décor and solid furniture.
We went on a miserable Monday in February that was as warm and welcoming as the weekend as soon as we stepped in to the bar.
We were greeted by manager Dave Lee - a man with 32 years experience in pubs like the Admiral Rodney at Loxley and the Fox House at Longshaw - who took us to a table and brought us delicious ‘complementary crisps’ made on the premises and with a lovely smoky flavour.
I had a half of Cornish Doom Bar beer, always tempting and very good.
Service is efficient and friendly and we start with scallops with bacon and a pea puree and a portion of corned salt-beef hash with a fried egg.
The scallops and bacon were as good as any we’ve tasted.
The salty, smokiness of the bacon complements the subtle flavor and texture of the beautifully cooked scallops. The sweet freshness of the puree and the rustic hit of the pea shoot garnish is pretty much irresistible.
As is the hash.
Proper corned beef that melts in the mouth along with the soft earthiness of new potatoes topped with a nicely runny egg. Excellent.
Then, we ordered our main courses and what should have been the crowning glory of a wonderful meal - pork crackling, that magical, fatty, crispy indulgent delight sent to test teeth and statins and give moments of eating pleasure rarely found elsewhere.
The pork belly came with the fat trimmed and soft on top which was disappointing.
I like pork belly slow-cooked to a mahogany hue and crunchy on top to the point of shattering on contact with a fork, though there was a strip of specially prepared crackling placed on top as a garnish on this occasion.
But what a disappointment.
I bit into it expecting the snap and crunch of legend but all I got was a dull hardness from the rind-like piece of skin.
Having said that the pork itself was a delight. Soft and tender, the meat and fat layers of the belly combined to delicious effect, a marmalade jus added tartness and depth, the bed of mash was smooth and beautifully seasoned, the smoked apple puree rounding of a feast of flavours.
Judging by the quality and attention to detail of the rest of the food the crackling caper was a one-off.
A point proved by my son’s duo of lamb with fondant potato, goat’s cheese, roasted heirloom tomatoes, Romano pepper and basil.
The meat on the lamb cutlet was cooked to perfection – medium, as ordered – and sweet and tender as you like. The second part of the duo – rolled shoulder - was equally delicious and melt-in-the-mouth with a crisped skin to make my pork belly jealous.
There’s a school of thought that says you can judge a place by the quality of its chips.
We had skinny fries and they were top class.
We finished with a shared platter of desserts which included Stanley plum & almond tart, cookie & ice-cream sandwich, salted caramel chocolate pot, the medieval-sounding strawberries with clotted cream & lavender sugar and lemon & elderflower posset.
For £9.50 between two some of the nicest sweets we have tasted anywhere, all five with something special.
The lemon posset was an absolute delight, smooth and creamy with a breath of elderflower and a real citrus hit. tiny buds of real lavender sprinkled on strawberries in a sugar syrup and served with clotted cream lent, along with the posset, a hint of Wolf Hall to the evening.
The Stanley plum and almond tart was a spongy delight with chunks of sweet plum and a kick of almonds to stun the best Bakewell tart into submission.
Rich, sticky chocolate cookies made a sweet sandwich with delicious ice cream in-between.
The salted caramel chocolate pot was rich and flavoursome, the salt giving an extra dimension to a wonderfully rich chocolate experience.
Absolutely top marks.
As the fire died it did get a little chilly towards the end of the meal.
Another log or a couple of those fork handles might have lit the place up again…
With a pint of beer, a glass of very passable New Zealand sauvignon blanc, a Pepsi and two good espressos our bill came to £70.70.
Star ratings out of five: