Maybe it’s all the yeast... Walk into Sheffield’s new artisan beer and pizza den and your spirits rela-aaax, then gently ri-iiise.
Craft & Dough is from the team that created the Milestone, took on the Wig & Pen and last year transformed Ecclesall Road’s Fancie cafe. It’s what it says on the tin; craft beer and pizza.
It is a formula so simple, you think it can’t possibly work. Until you sample it for yourself. I should have known it would be a winner. Milestone boss Matt Bigland has a sixth sense when it comes to creating the sort of atmosphere that makes you feel enveloped the moment you walk in, doing simple food very, very well and spotting every new ingredient craze and booze trend.
Craft & Dough opened in December on the site of Green City Coffee behind the Fat Cat in Kelham Island, the enclave fast becoming a foodie’s destination. There’s a fantastic vibe; blues and rock tracks play and the decor is laid-back. Instead of chilly industrial, the look is Scandinavia meets American Mid-West; wood-lap walls, bare pine table tops and mis-matched chairs contrast with glossy white butcher’s tiles in the open kitchen, where two chefs shovel pizzas into a wood-fired oven below hanging salamis and strings of garlic and herbs. One wall is covered with bottles, a showcase of lovingly-sourced booze. Craft beers – 47 of them from around the world – are detailed on one blackboarded wall and this is the only place in Yorkshire where you’ll find London Meantime on draught. Craft spirits are a big feature, too. There are nine artisan gins, a fabulous list of rums and a whisky from every Continent (from £3.40 to £7.50 for a Shackleton’s Discovery, a replica of the whisky that warmed Ernest Shackleton’s cockles all the way to the South Pole in 1907).
Beers start at £3.80, wine is from £3.90 a glass and cocktails are £4.50. Monday to Friday 5-7pm all drinks are discounted and if that doesn’t make you happy, the food will. As with the alcohol, ingredients are artisan quality. The pizza flour, salamis and cheeses come direct from Italy and much comes from the Milestone’s allotment. There are three garlic breads, a Ploughman’s platter and eight pizzas (£4.50 to £9), inspired by the first Milestone menu in 2007, which proffered only pizza, tapas and pub dishes.
The husband’s £4.20 Flying Dog Easy IPA proves an aromatic, citrus delight and I’m won over by manager Jona Bateman’s recommendation for a non-beer drinker, Bacchus Kriek, £5, a vibrant, sour Belgian cherry brew wittily presented in a paper bag. Our £5.50 sharing board is right up a Eurocentric ploughman’s furrow; aged Lincolnshire poacher, intensely fiery Nduja, a Calabrian sausage pate, salami Filano and Coppa di Parma ham, sharp Parmesan shavings and a rich puddle of aged balsamic. There is loads but we valiantly sample skinny fries ingeniously sprinkled with Oxo and three pizzas. Thin, bubbly bases left attractively mis-shapen are imaginatively laden. Crafty Cuts (braised ox cheek, pepperoni and balsamic red onion) is an inspired take on the meat feast. We thought our vote would go to the Tandoori chicken with raita, mango, chilli salsa and a crunchy scattering of Bombay mix, but it needed more spice and less mango. Surprisingly, our favourite was the £5.50 sweet-roast squash with salty feta, pumpkin seeds and hits of chilli and sage. We picked up the bill – only £38.70 including a pint of Meantime – and our boxed leftovers and left very happy indeed.
My star ratings out of six: