BONFIRE night has just gone but it’s not just small children who get excited at the prospect of rocket fun. So do chefs.
Only their rocket doesn’t go whoosh and send out sparkling stars but is a green leaf and you can hardly find a restaurant plate anywhere without some on.
Whenever chefs want to add a bit of garnish or fill up space as cheaply as possible, they grab a handful of rocket. I’ve had three-quarters of my plate submerged by this upstart weed.
You can’t even escape it at dessert. Recently, not in Sheffield or you’d have heard about it sooner, I even got a bit of salad on my pud.
The rocket ratio is pretty high at the new Brooklyn steakhouse bar and grill in Kelham Island, Sheffield.
It’s on our starters and my main course steak. In fact, I’ve got it twice in my starter, a nifty mille feuille of butternut squash with a rocket and cashew nut pesto. It’s garnished with . . . rocket.
I get the feeling that rocket is being overdone these days, don’t you?
I also get the feeling that steakhouses in Sheffield are like First buses: you wait ages for one then two come along at once.
That was the case when the Bar & Grill and London Club came and went, up in smoke like an incinerated steak. Now we have two smaller enterprises, the South American La Vaca in Broomhill and Matt Holdsworth’s new venture in Ball Street.
It’s a new build, taking its name from the nearby listed Brooklyn Works. Matt, son of John, the onion bhaji baron of Attercliffe, has sold his café cum deli cum bistro in Totley to throw his hat into the ring for this new venture with boxing promoter Dennis Hobson and partner Sarah Thompson.
That accounts for the dozen muscular blokes in the bar who look like they can handle themselves and a steak.
Brooklyn – there’s an image of the real Brooklyn Bridge on the walls – is a lively place our Friday night with a jazz keyboardist.
There’s a black tiled floor, exposed brickwork and a bar counter divides the boozing part of the place (which can also be for diners) from the restaurant, five tables for four and three for two.
We’re a twosome and the tables are a little small but from it I can see the kitchen hatch and the specials board.
We mostly ignore dishes such as braised beef because the Brooklyn is all about the grills although, to be honest, it’s a pretty small selection.
There is ribeye (£17.95), sirloin (£19.95) and fillet (£24.95) for 8oz, plus fish of the day and a selection of the ubiquitous burgers.
Starters are a reasonable £4 so we have juicy garlic prawns (five of them) with a spoonful of lemon flavoured aioli. The spoon serves to scoop up the juices in place of the hunk of bread this dish requires.
You probably wouldn’t get one of Dennis’s boxers eating the mille feuille on the grounds that it’s too girlie but I loved the contrast of the squash, cooked with sweet curry spices, sandwiched between crisp pastry discs.
Good steak is expensive, full stop. Organic more so. You don’t mind paying if you get the quality. Matt sources his from Lower Hurst Farm on the River Dove near Bakewell which has Hereford cattle. I’ve eaten their roast beef when Matt was at Totley.
The menu comes with a steak done-ness guide and after years of being promised meat will be cooked pink and it arrives far past that I’m glad the kitchen has also read it. My rib eye, garnished with an onion ring, is medium rare as promised.
It’s easy to cut, has lots of flavour and the kitchen has left on enough fat (but no gristle) to baste and sweeten the meat.
The price includes a side dish, in my case unremarkable chips, and a ‘sundry,’ buttered spinach. I think they’ve forgotten it then spot it peering shyly from underneath a heap of rocket.
You can also have a sauce but I like my meat naked so just have garlic and parsley butter. Besides, that precisely cooked steak is already oozing out its juices.
My wife has grilled salmon, the only fish apart from fish and chips (£11.95). She likes it although I think the fish tastes a little metallic. She has gone for the grain quinoa mixed with roasted vegetables but it’s hard to find. She also has ‘allotment vegetables’ but, holding up a pod of sugar peas, suspects the allotment might be in Kenya. The fish is topped with a sprightly caper-based green sauce.
Desserts (£3.95) are good value: a strawberry and black pepper cheesecake and a lemon tart with a bruleed top, let down by a slightly soggy bottom.
It’s been a good meal although I would like to see steak offered with all the traditional trimmings.
For veggies, choice is limited to a stuffed mushroom. There ought, too, to be more choice of wine by the glass.
Service is willing but a little uneven. The cream with my tart was spilled on the table and wasn’t replaced but otherwise this is a smashing little place.
We paid almost £45 for food, £12 for two glasses of wine and £3.75 for coffees.
I didn’t spot a bhaji but the lunchtime menu looks tempting.
The Dawes Verdict
Ball Street Bridge, Kelham Island, Sheffield S3 8BR.
Tel: 0114 218 9300. Open: Closed Mon. Open Tues-Thurs 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat until 11.30pm, Sun “until late.”
Credit cards. Music. House wine £16.95. Disabled access and toilet. Free car park opposite.