The friendly little neighbourhood bar in Chesterfield Road, Meersbrook was twinned with a kitchen serving Asian food prior to lockdown. The food side has been taken over by the team behind vegan food brand Make No Bones, who had a popular restaurant up the road in recent years.
Now they are based at the Old Workshop bar in Kelham Island and the Saucy fast food takeaway on Abbeydale Road as well as La Fonda, which offers Mexican street food.
I tried to book ahead by phone but it turns out they don’t take advance bookings and there wasn’t much chance of being turned away on Saturday night, when most of the nation was glued to the England match.
Three of us settled in to watch the lightning storm outside instead with a great bottle of Santa Alba Merlot red wine (£16) while we looked at the menu. Well done to our waitress for offering tap water as well.
She also explained that the menu is split between bigger individual dishes, which are tacos, quesadillas and burritos, and sharing dishes.
We opted to share and chose six dishes. It’s a small menu and on reflection we should maybe have mixed and matched and shared a main dish and smaller ones.
As it was, we ended up with a lot of potatoes.
One of my favourite dishes was a slightly more sophisticated version of the loaded nachos we’ve all shared in pubs – these were covered with a creamy vegan cheese sauce, jalapenos, black beans, pico de gallo salsa, pink pickled onion, sour cream and guacamole. The pickled onion in particular was great, not too sharp and a little bit sweet.
I also liked the sopes, which are crispy little tartlets made with tortillas rather than pastry. We tried the tinga sopes (£6.50), which have a base of black beans loaded with ‘chicken’ tinga, pico de gallo and sour cream, and came with a side slaw.
Our other dishes were all based on new potatoes covered in the cheesy sauce with different toppings.
Papas al pastor (£4.50) feature seitan al pastor, which is a version of pulled pork (seitan is made from wheat gluten), vegan sour cream and grilled pineapple that worked well.
Tinga papas (£5) are topped with with vegan cheese, vegan chicken tinga, vegan sour cream and pico de gallo.
Papas alambre (£4.50) include vegan cheese, grilled onion, peppers and pulled oyster mushrooms, topped with vegan chipotle mayo.
The cheese sauce is amazingly rich - goodness knows how they achieve that with non-dairy products – and there was not much vying for attention with it, which was a shame.
By the time we thought about pudding the kitchen was closed but we were still able to try a fantastic chilli chocolate cake – I defy any non-vegan not to enjoy this as much as a conventional chocolate cake.
The chilli heat was subtle, much like our main courses. If you had a burrito, quesadilla or taco, you can choose the salsa whose heat levels you like most.
Our bill came to £66 including two bottles of wine.