There’s a whiff of smoky, toasty smells in the air, truly inviting on a wet autumnal afternoon.
On a working lunch at the Pointing Dog Clubhouse with PR and communications specialist Surriya Falconer, we sniff appreciatively and wonder if it’s done for effect, like the baking bread ploy used by house-sellers.
But a charming, apron-clad lad assures us it’s the norm, thanks to the kitchen’s wood-fuelled fires.
Launched in May, this huge venue is packed at night, but on our 1.30pm visit, it is virtually empty and felt soul-less. But the Dog’s enthusiastic young pup encouraged us into the 150-seater dining room, which had a lovely table in the window.
Housed in a Victorian building that was for 50 years the Polish Ex-Servicemen’s Club, the design is semi-industrial New York. But bare plaster walls, graphic metalwork and factory lighting are tempered with faux shooting trophy heads, a dash of wood panelling and quirky vintage touches on tables.
This is Sheffield-based Pointing Dog Group’s third site (others are in Bakewell and Cheadle Hulme). It’s ticking Surriya’s boxes.“I like to take clients to independent venues and in a part of town that shows Sheffield at its best,” she says. She likes the menu, too; “varied and well-priced.” Ingredients, locally sourced, are mostly cooked on that wood-fired char-grill. Signature dishes are American - huge steaks at £40-50 meant for sharing, lobster and soft shell crab.
Each dish surpasses its description. Her scallop starter, £7, is done as Coquilles St Jacques, on the half-shell, loads of small scallops rather overpowered by a rich cheese sauce. My French onion soup, £6, slow-cooked to sweetness, requires a fork to cope with its topping of melted Gruyere croutons. Hot French bread, a pricy £3.25, arrives in a brown paper bag. Cute.
My main, a bargain £11, is a clever, lighter version of lasagne; pasta and Parmesan slices woven between courgette, porcini mushrooms heady with truffle oil and a white wine sauce. Divine. Surriya had to ask for extra dressing to enliven her £13 Thai noodle salad with mango, cucumber and melon. It was topped with a crisp-fried, whole soft shell crab which “tasted of nothing and was therefore pointless.”
Coffee and a chocolate and amaretti fondue with rose-scented marshmallows (£9 for two) brought smiles back to our faces and the bill to £55.50 (including bottled water). In and out within an hour? No way; this is food you want to linger over. A 25 per cent lunchtime offer starts soon, BTW.
n Pointing Dog, 516 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield S11 8PY, Tel: 0114 2660742. Ratings out of six: Food: 5 Value: 5 Service: 5 Lunchtime vibe: 1