This is our verdict on the food at an Ecclesall Road restaurant with a difference

A restaurant with the simple motto of “good food, does good” has opened on Ecclesall Road, after relocating from the city centre.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 11:14 am
Chef and founder Chris Hanson. Picture: Chris Etchells
Chef and founder Chris Hanson. Picture: Chris Etchells

Social enterprise, Blend Kitchen, first welcomed customers to their stylish new premises at Ward’s Exchange, on the ground floor unit of online educational publishing house, Twinkl’s head office, when outdoor hospitality resumed on April 12.

Its owner, and head chef, Chris Hanson, founded Blend Kitchen in 2017 with the aim of providing “structured hospitality training and paid work experience to people who have been marginalised by a lack of access to rights, resources, and opportunities.”

Chris has been given support and assistance in seeing his dream realised by a number of individuals and companies including hospitality consultant Justin Rowntree who is the former owner of Silversmiths restaurant; Twinkl; creative agencies Front and 93ft; businesses D&J Brittian and Phoenix Kitchens and many more.

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Pictured are David Edwards and Justin Rowntree. Picture: Chris Etchells

Justin helped Chris to raise the £350,000 he needed to transform what Chris describes as a “concrete shell” into a purpose-built venue on the city’s premier stretch of bars and restaurants.

The result makes for a fantastic dining experience thanks to the visually appealing and mouth wateringly tasty dishes; exceptional service and the modern yet completely comfortable “multi use” events space.

We began our experience with a bright welcome and were immediately shown to our table, which was well spaced from the closest dining party to us, creating a sense of privacy and safety.

Soul classics softly played in the background as my dining companion and I chose starters of king prawn dumplings and home made sun blush tomato, olive and rosemary focaccia bread with olive oil and balsamic dressing, respectively.

Food review at Blend Kitchen at Wards exchange. Picture: Chris Etchells

The focaccia was perfectly baked and melted in the mouth, and the North African spice blend present in the olive oil and balsamic dressing was divine. Meanwhile, my dining companion hugely enjoyed the flavoursome firm king prawn steamed dumplings, and needed the Sheffield steel spoon to get every last drop of the deep, rich broth.

Moving on to the mains, I selected roasted red pepper falafel smoked paprika and caramelised onion hummus in a pitta bread, while my dining companion plumped for the pan fried sea bass, chorizo, slow roast tomatoes, tenderstem broccoli, and we shared some garlic and herb hasselback potatoes.

The falafel and home-made hummus, both of which are favourites of mine, were the best I’ve had in a long time and the hasselback potatoes were flavourful and delicious. My dining companion savoured every mouthful of the seabass.

I concluded the meal with a heavenly honeycomb affogato, and my dining companion did the same with a dessert of mango two ways – parfait and sorbet – lifted by aromatic basil and black pepper, accompanied by thick shards of delicious white chocolate and found it to be a real symphony of flavours and textures.

The bar at Blend Kitchen. Picture: Chris Etchells

Overall, we were really impressed with the food, and it is definitely of a high enough standard to compete with other eateries on a Sheffield stretch which is perennially popular with foodies.

Not only that, but by dining there you are helping to support an enterprise which seeks to empower and change the lives of some of the city’s most vulnerable and disenfranchised people.

Chris, who trained at Barnsley College and cut his culinary teeth at Whitley Hall Hotel, explained how the more people they get through the door at Blend Kitchen, the more resources they have to create positions and experience for people.

Our food was complimentary, and for more information please visit Blend Kitchen’s website at: https://www.blendkitchen.co.uk/

Pan fried sea bass, chorizo, slow roast tomatoes, tenderstem broccoli, garlic and herb hasselback potatoes and chermula. Picture: Chris Etchells
Blend Kitchen. Picture: Chris Etchells
Mango parfait. Picture: Chris Etchells