Good, wholesome food but nothing can outshine fried potato perfection
Everybody loves chips.
Some have a favourite chippy, some look back longingly to the days when a chip pan was part of the family, others love fast food fries.
But everybody loves chips, they’re a global guilty pleasure – and when done the right way one of life’s great delights.
Rodney Sales at The Leeds Arms in South Anston knows how to make great chips – so good he cooks them thrice.
These columns have lightheartedly asserted you can tell the quality of a place by the chips it serves. And it’s true.
If a restaurant, pub or cafe can’t be bothered or doesn’t know how to do decent chips it’s probably not too bothered about other things either.
Chef Rodney Sales is clearly bothered about his chips, as he is about pretty much everything he puts on the tables in the refurbished Orangery extension at the Leeds Arms.
Rodney and his partner Emma Stakker were poached as a pair from the Green Bean café in the Green Scene garden centre just down the road at Todwick and run by Rodney’s mum and dad, where they had attracted the attention of foodies from far and wide with their lunches, sandwiches and Bistro Friday nights.
No wonder, they do good food.
There’s a new menu at the Orangery – but it doesn’t start until the day after we got there so choices are limited as the old menu is being phased out.
These things happen, menus are changing at this time of year and The Leeds Arms is redoing its bar menu as well – sandwiches, chicken, burgers – the tagliatelle is very popular apparently.
When we walked in to the bar we were greeted by friendly staff and taken to the table of our choice – it was Tuesday and quiet.
It was a cold night so we chose a seat near the heater. The place has a good feel to it, newly done out with clean, classic lines.
One slightly disappointing aspect is that they only have Greene King beers, not a local one to be had, though the glass of Green King bitter I had was pretty decent.
For starters we chose the Cullen skink and a walnut and rocket salad.
Both looked beautiful as they arrived , the skink with layers of smoked haddock stacked in the middle of the bowl and surrounded by a sea of creamy, smoky liquor that really packed in flavour.
The fish was tender and moist though maybe a tad overcooked for me but the whole thing was delicious and a warming start with good and crusty bread.
The salad was plentiful, and that special pairing of walnuts and blue cheese dressing was delicious.
Just inside the bar area and within earshot three blokes were swapping travel tales over a few pints and their conversation went on to animal smuggling and happily drowned out the slightly screechy piped music that to me didn’t really have much point.
For main course I went fish again – although sea bass seems to be on every menu these days I can’t remember the last time I had it, so it was a no-brainer and one that will feature on the new menu.
My wife had a T-bone pork steak with what should have been black pudding mash but as she’s not keen on black pudding we ordered that separate so I could take care of it.
The bass came on peas and mange tout and topped with samphire and capers that brought freshness and sharpness to the beautifully cooked fillet of fish with its crisp skin and soft, moist flesh. The black pudding was good too.
Then there were those chips.
Deep brown, medium cut, as crunchy as crisps on the outside then soft and waxy inside, absolutely top class.
“He cooks them three times,” offered Emma when I complimented her on the deep-fried masterpieces. – he being her partner Rodney – they came to the Leeds Arms in September and the place has been gaining in popularity ever since – they had 70 in on Mothers’ day.
“He boils them first and fries them twice, he’s dead keen on getting them right.”
In a Homer Simpson-esque daydream the chip addict in me wonders if they would be even better cooked FOUR times.
I had to check for drool when I finally snapped out of it.
We had a glass of very decent house sauvignon blanc, fruity and slightly tart, that went a treat with the fish.
For dessert we had a lemon tart with raspberry coulis and marscapone ice cream plus a slice of home-made Victoria sponge.
The huge wedge of sponge was light but had substance and not a whiffly lightweight thing, the buttercream was rich and complemented perfectly by the layer of jam. Good home-made cake.
The lemon tart had a terrific belt of sharpness, the pastry was light and the whole thing rich and lovely. The marscapone ice cream – from Joe’s Ices in Beighton – creamy and delicious and set off by a swirl of raspberry coulis.
All good, wholesome food but nothing could outshine those chips.
With a glass of white wine and half of bitter our bill came to £47.15.
Star ratings out of five
The Leeds Arms, 29 Sheffield Road, South Anston, S25 5DT, Tel. 01909 566144