“PARP, parp,” sounded the klaxon from the depths of the Broadfield’s kitchen. Each time a waitress scudded through the door and returned with plates of food. Very often pies.
We were sitting near the kitchen so it went on and on throughout our meal: parp, door, pies.
The klaxon reminded me of the horn on Mr Toad’s car – parp, parp – on stage at the Crucible in Toad of Toad Hall some years ago. Had he somehow crashed his old jalopy among the pots and pans?
No, it’s just that the Broadfield’s management prefers a klaxon to a bell. They should be compelled to sit here then.
They’re big on pies at the Broadfield, on Abbeydale Road, Sheffield, which has been revamped by Kane Yeardley’s Forum Bars group, as they are at one of his other places, the York at Broomhill. In fact, you can have pie at every course. I suspect Mr Toad liked pies.
The boozer was built in 1896 by Albert Twigg and he’s still around in spirit: his photo and death certificate is framed on a wall.
When it reopened before Christmas – they’ve knocked down a wall so it is one large room with defined spaces and an island bar – the place, as they say, was rammed. It got pretty full when we called early on Thursday evening.
This was the first time I’d visited the Broadfield although I live reasonably close. I’d always been put off by, how shall I put it, its colourful reputation.
And when climber Joe Simpson spent half a page in one of his books relating how someone scared the life out of him in the pub I felt less inclined to sling a crampon there.
But whatever it was then, it ain’t now. It may be big but the place feels cosy. It’s eat one side (within klaxon earshot), drink the other, with a good mix of customers.
Kane, like a number of other local businessmen, is proving you can take a failed old boozer off the greedy pubcos and if you give people what they want: a good mix of local and continental beers, decent comforting, home-made food and honest prices, you’ll get your customers.
We drifted to a table in the window, not noticing it had a ‘reserved’ sign on it. “It’s reserved for someone. Try a table over here,” said manager Mike Simcox gesturing towards the back. They all had ‘reserved’ on them. “That doesn’t matter,” he said.
The chef here is Richard Podd, whom we had last seen at the Old House. It’s a big menu, not just with some half a dozen pies and a similar number of sausages, but with dishes which have seen service across other group outlets, such as the spiced cauliflower fritters.
The pies all look similar so how do they tell them apart? There’s a little pastry code letter on top!
I began with a half of Gala pie (£3.95), with good pastry and a dense, porky filling enclosing a hard boiled egg. A tiny Kilner jar held the pub’s own ‘Hendolilli pickle’, a little on the runny side, made with a certain Sheffield relish (which has its own display on a shelf).
It’s Kilner jar heaven here, for a bigger size contains some lovely potted mackerel (£4.25) which my wife was eating. “Not bad that,” I said, noting its creamy texture. “It’s lovely. I could eat it again,” she said.
But she didn’t. Instead she had the smoked haddock and salmon kedgeree (£6.95), a dish with an identity crisis. You see, it really wanted to be a risotto.
It was made with short, not long, grain rice, so lost its lightness and was a touch too easy on the curry spicing and maybe a little sturdy. But it was generous with fish and topped with a soft poached egg.
I was a main course pie dodger in the House of Pies but then, where else do you find a whole maple-roasted ham hock (£8.95) with hand cut chips, roasted roots and Old Rosie cider gravy on the menu?
Now a ham hock is not a prime cut. Butchers sell it for a couple of quid. But, give it a glaze of maple syrup, as Richard has done, and it appears on your plate as bronzed and shiny as a conker, if considerably bigger.
The combination of crisp skin, which breaks into shards, slightly frothy fat beneath and the red coarse textured but tasty meat is certainly rustic eating and only a little less than glorious.
It is salty (they’re working on the degree) but the maple’s sweetness takes off the edge. I loved it but couldn’t finish it.
Stuffed, we shared a baked apple and sultana pie (£3.95) which had a divine short pastry and a really fruity filling.
The Broadfield has a considerate menu with vegetarian, vegan, lactose-free and coeliac dishes clearly marked and a good range of sandwiches (not available at night), including homemade corned beef.
We paid £28.05 for excellent food (only the kedgeree stopped it getting top marks) and £6 for drinks.
Great job, Kane, but please put the kibosh on that klaxon. Parp parp!
The Dawes verdict
452 Abbeydale Road, Sheffield S7 1FR.
Tel: 0114 255 0200.
Open all week (food noon-10pm). Real ales. Credit cards. Disabled access and toilets. Street parking.