REVIEW: From slutty rutty buttys to foraged wild mushrooms - fine pub food at its best

Chef Richard Storer
Chef Richard Storer
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The other half was somewhat baffled to arrive at The Rutland Arms in Sheffield city centre for a food review.

“This is a football pub, isn’t it?”, he asked as we walked up to the grand frontage in Brown Street, with its distinctive yellow tiling.

The Wild Mushroom Tart

The Wild Mushroom Tart

He had a point - this pub was busy with Sheffield United supporters, many of them families, enjoying a drink after Saturday’s 3-1 loss.

But we weren’t here for the post-match banter, we were here to try the creations of head chef Richard Storer.

Rico, as he is affectionately known, is one of the most entertaining Sheffield chefs on Twitter, updating followers with sharp musings on life behind the stove and posting drool-worthy food pictures.

In fact, in a delicious twist of fate, he wrote about us just as we were tucking in to our final mouthfuls.

The Rutland Arms on Brown Street

The Rutland Arms on Brown Street

“A couple outside got it completely right, and are having three courses”, he said.

It was only fair to break the news that it was a review to him in the very same way...

“My aim is to cook like a French housewife from the 1950s”, he said as we spoke in real life a few minutes later, in the pub’s large and leafy beer garden.

(You can see what is meant by entertaining)

The Parkin cake

The Parkin cake

Richard added: “That’s something I took from Jonathan Meads who was the food writer for The Times in the 1990s - that’s one thing to aim for.”

Richard is previously of The Plough, Hathersage, and cut his teeth proper at The Ivory which used to be just off West Street, before joining the Arms almost four years ago.

His specials menu, on a blackboard next to the bar, changes every day and can range from faggots to seabass. One thing that does stay the same is the price, as it’s almost impossible to spot a dish that is over a tenner on either the standard or specials menu.

“I don’t need to charge people more than I do, so it would feel dishonest and wrong to do so”, he said.

The Rutland Arms on Brown Street

The Rutland Arms on Brown Street

The pub, located in the heart of Sheffield’s cultural industries quarter, reopened around five years ago.

One of its claims to fame - at least in the offices of Sheffield Newspapers - is the ‘slutty, rutty butty’ of chips, cheese and bacon, while another is the banned music list above the jukebox.

More people also seem to be going for that specials menu, which Richard goes to lengths to get the very best quality ingredients for.

The wild mushrooms in my main were foraged from the Peak District, and watch out shortly for an array of pork dishes using pigs which have spent their last few weeks eating fruit and vegetables at Heeley City Farm.

Richard added: “It’s taken quite a while but in the last year or so it feels like the penny is starting to drop.”

Inside the pub is cosy and old boozer charming and there’s an excellent selection of beers behind the traditional bar. You order there and pick up your own cutlery, but service to the table is swift and friendly.

A pint for him and a lingonberry sour beer for me - note to fellow lightweights, this is 7.7 % - went down a treat with our starter.

A square plate was covered end to end in prosciutto.

Instead of paper thin slivers akin to supermarket packet standards, it was fairly thick slices of intensely peppery, high quality meat.

There was just enough oil and parmesan on top to add different textures, while the green olives also packed a peppery punch.

Granted, there wasn’t much cooking involved, but it was a lesson in how to do a simple starter well.

He’d gone for the rump steak - a snip at £9.50.

Criss-crossed with chargrill marks, it was a decent portion size and cooked with a careful eye - more careful in fact than a steak he had the previous week at an expensive South Yorkshire hotel. For £23.

The Rutland version came with green beans and a dark, dark mound of purple cabbage to add sweetness, then absolutely stunning twice-cooked chips - huge, non-uniform golden wedges which were crispy on the outside and super soft inside.

You can see why the slutty rutty butty is so popular.

He’s not a sauce fan but I dipped a stolen chip in the creamy, multi-layered and lovely mushroom creation that came with it.

The steak could have been slightly more rare as requested and slightly less medium, but that was the only improvement he suggested. I was tempted by skate wing but wild mushroom tart proved to be an exercise in pastry structure perfection.

Like Paul Hollywood, I tipped it over for examination, finding it crisp, baked and slender without a soggy bottom in sight.

Rico says pastry is his ‘happy place’ - it was certainly mine.

Inside those mushrooms gave an incredibly rich and creamy taste of the woods, offset by a mustard and tarragon tinged potato salad.

Sadly there were no sweet puddings left, but a quirky four cheese plate of unusual fromages - one sbirro made with beer and coated in hops - ended things well for £5. This high standard of imaginative pub food, at a low level of pricing, is wonderful. And the other half now considers himself schooled on first impressions.

We paid £38.10 including one round of drinks.

The Rutland Arms, 86 Brown Street, city centre

0114 272 9003