It’s a simple carafe of water, garnished with ice and cucumber chunks, but it pretty much sums up the ethos of Sheffield’s newest restaurant...
It’s fresh, it’s different and it’s created by someone who knows about good food and good service. What’s more, it’s delivered, free of charge, to everyone who walks through the door.
Back of House has taken over the Ecclesall Road site recently vacated by Kitchen, which won honours in last year’s Good Food Guide. This could be a big gap to fill, but first signs suggest the newcomers are doing the job with aplomb.
Behind the venture are mixologist Tom Robjohns and his partner Jaye Taylor, who met while working at Menzels.
For the last year they’ve run the Oakbrook tea house at Nether Green: “Doing everything from baking the cakes to mopping the toilets!” But their dream was always to have their own bar and restaurant - and this is it.
Over the last few years they’ve squirreled away ideas from restaurants all over the world; now is their chance to put them into practice.
BOH is a slick space with post-industrial decor, candles in hurricane lamps and a bar made of wood, steel and metal piping.
This is where Tom will practise his art – he’s renow-ned for reinventing classic cocktails and some of his best are on offer alongside a select range of beers and wines.
The kitchen is in the capable hands of head chef Rich Bucklow, who trained with Tom Aikens and Mark Hix. His menu is deceptively simple: seven starters, seven mains and just four desserts, but each comprising a complex range of co-ordinated textures and flavours.
We order a bottle of fruity Chilean cabernet merlot (£14.95 or £3.70 a glass) to go with the cucumber water – which is a brilliant palate cleanser.
The only grumble is that bread and butter is £3; this is a restaurant, not a pub, and I resent paying extra, no matter how good the service.
‘Ploughmans’ starter is a mini meal in itself: belly pork, sausage roll and meaty ham terrine with tiny cubes of cheese, a smear of piccalilli and a dollop of chutney.
BOH summer salad combines nicely al dente asparagus with soft and tangy goats cheese mousse, crisp radish, broad bean purée and a subtle grating of hazelnut.
The inventive theme continues... My seven-hour-braised ox cheek is rich, soft and wonderfully intense, with bite-size bone marrow fritters, an unusual cauliflower risotto and a few slivers of crisp florette.
Roast chicken breast is good too, contrasting with confit thigh, mashed potato, chargrilled baby gem lettuce, broad beans and chive butter – good flavours that work well together.
We share a dessert of chocolate pannacotta: silky smooth, sprinkled with diced mango, crushed honeycomb and a piece of cinnamon shortbread.
If I’d realised strawberries and cream was not just simple fruit, but a mini brûlée with a curl of jelly, a pool of coulis, ice cream, chantilly cream and white strawberry, I might have been tempted by that too!
We finish with good americanos and complimentary truffles. Dinner for two, excluding drinks and service, is £50.50.
lBack of House, 762 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield (0114) 267 1351