I think I just met the most honest waiter, bar none.
I hope his bosses at All Bar One applaud him - and take on board his verdict on the dish he determinedly steered me clear off.
Because, in a world where pushy sales patter constantly entices us to buy, how refreshing it was to be told that the lunch dish which had me lusting wasn’t as good as it sounded.
The dish in question was the Crab and Lobster burger. Anticipating £10.50-worth of lush, creamy seafood hunks topped with red onion in a sesame brioche bun - with fries, mango coleslaw and a chili dip - I placed my order. “Don’t, he said. It’s the most disappointing thing on our menu; it’s a seafood burger.”
A few months ago Sheffield’s branch of the Mitchell & Butler All Bar One chain, which dates to 1996, has had a floor to ceiling makeover. It’s very subtle; ABO is a favoured lunchtime watering hole for many and they won’t have palpitations. Natural wood floors now meet exposed brick walls, those of-the-moment single light bulbs dangle low to give a glow and there are now cosy sofa corners and plush leather banquettes instead of those cumbersome refectory tables and benches. It’s still very much a wine bar, with an extensive collection on show. And there’s a new Wine-Tasting Table where lessons can be booked. A new lunch menu features an impressive selection of burgers, interesting and mostly exotic mains and new sharing plates – tapas to you and me.
I was sampling the new vibe on a working lunch with Star business ed. David Walsh. A veggie, he selected a Confit cherry tomato and asparagus risotto from the £6.50 lunch menu and I veered off burgers and ordered two tapas. Here but the waiter’s honesty came into play again. As David ordered a £3.50 side dish, he pointed out it was better value to add a third tapas as they were three for £14 and i’d already ordered £11-worth.
Food arrived promptly and was as excellent as our waiter. David’s risotto was rammed with flavour and texture, a four herb pesto adding wow factor. My salmon ceviche, “cooked” in lime juice with red onions, coriander and chilli, tasted as beautiful as it looked. My chorizo, tomato and olive bruschetta was enough for two and so was his fresh houmous with bread.
A divine caramel cheesecake (on chocolate pastry, with raspberry coulis), two small glasses of house white and coffees (with shot glasses of Smarties) brought the bill to £38.30. Slick, stylish and speedy, no wonder ABO is so popular.
13-15 Leopold St, Sheffield S1 2GY. Tel: 0114 275 3423.
Ratings out of six: