Food Review: The Castle Inn in Bradway

Castle Inn pie
Castle Inn pie
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1 Twentywell Lane, Bradway, Sheffield 17 4PT. Phone: 0114 376 7100. Open: Mon 4-8pm, Tue-Thurs 12-11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-12am, Sun 12-10pm (roasts, one course £9.95, three £13.95). Vegetarian dishes. Credit cards. Large car park.

Those readers who have followed me mouthful by mouthful down the years will know that I am rather partial to a proper pie.

Some men go for flashy tarts but my pulse begins to race when I find a pie with bottom: the pastry doesn’t just sit on top as a lid but curves seductively beneath to enclose the filling.

The shortcrust pastry should be just that, short, a joy in itself but the bonus is the tiny layer of pastry which has absorbed the meaty juices. So not every soggy bottom is a disaster – but not very soggy, though

Looks, as in life, are not important although it is always a pleasure to see an expanse of smooth pastry burnished brown. In a North Derbyshire village I waited a good 30 minutes for a ‘made while you salivate’ pie which when it came looked like a bashed-up pasty with the shortest, crispest, lightest crust.

At the Castle Inn, Bradway, the menu lists a steak and ale pie in a “home-made short, short pastry” which is a nod and a wink to pie lovers. It comes in one of those little blue and white enamel dishes and the pastry glistens brown around the edges and yellow at the top. As promised the pastry was very, very short.

As for the filling it was jam-packed with meat in a gravy so good I didn’t need to resort to the Henderson’s until halfway through (although Relish was undoubtedly in the gravy as well).

The Castle, on Twentywell Lane, was built in 1886 to slake the thirst of the managers overseeing the building of the Totley rail tunnel.

It needed a lot of bricks so they started a brickworks and there is a reminder of that time from bricks marked 20 Well’ set in the pub’s fireplace, made of bricks, of course.

The Castle is run by Craig and Marie Harris, who took over in April. You may remember them from this page when they were at the Peaks Inn, Castleton, and took part in TV’s Four in a Bed series.

Both are foodies and Craig only just missed out a few years back on MasterChef after miscalculating the cooking time of his sea bass main.

It’s pub grub but home made and, as with his beers, Craig likes to source much of his produce locally, from within 30 miles. The beers on tap on our night included Abbeydale’s Absolution and Sceptr’d Ale, Barnsley Bitter and Ossett Green Dream.

They’re hoping to do better with the food than in Castleton and already the couple, who spend their holidays in Italy, have run a successful Italian night and plan another one.

It’s a basic menu with pub favourites and signature dishes such as Craig’s blade of beef with horseradish mash and monthly changing specials. There’s more choice at weekends and a Sunday roast.

We eat in the restaurant just off the bar with a TV and while Craig scuttles about bringing our dishes we see no sign of Marie. Where is she?

“In the kitchen, cooking,” he says. These days he likes to be out front promoting the beer sales and Marie’s happy in the kitchen.

“She’s amazed me. At the Peaks I got fed up with cooking gammon and scampi so she said ‘let me have a go,’” adds Craig.

We begin with a jolly decent tomato soup with basil oil (£4.25) which kept the cold out and a good old traditional prawn cocktail in a glass (£4.50). “Plenty of prawns although I could have done with some brown bread and butter,” says my wife. And a roll would have been nice with the soup.

The pie (£8.95), which came with double-cooked chips and mushy peas, was well worth the money although there was a bit of faffing about with the pie in a dish on a plate along with another plate containing chips and a pot of peas.

The Yorkshire Fishcake (£8.95) sounded a good idea but there was very little fish sandwiched between slices of barely cooked potato, battered and drizzled with a Henderson’s glaze.

For much more fish for less money you’re better sticking to the fish and chips for a quid less.

Until he walked through the door Craig had never heard of the Castle but Marie had. “I grew up around here and 20 years ago this was my first pub job,” she says.

When I ate at the Peaks I raved about the rhubarb crumble, this time it’s the apple version (£3.95), deceptively simple but very good. It’s the topping, really crumbly and fine in texture, which makes it. And top marks for a really light chocolate sponge.

We paid £34 for food.