WE’RE going back to the Seventies today so root out those long-abandoned kaftans and hot pants.
Unfortunately the Tardis in the shape of the old police box is otherwise engaged so step aboard this deceptively spacious time travelling fondue set and before you can say Black Forest gateau we’re at the Dore Grill.
Just look at those menus: poached salmon in cream and brandy, eggs Washington. Takes you back a bit . . . but the restaurant website gets in first.
“We are unashamedly old school. We have things on our menus that were the height of fashion in the Seventies.
“Come along, make a joke about sherry trifle, crepe Suzettes or prawn cocktails. These things are here for a reason, our customers love them. We even have a sweet trolley.”
We are here for the £17.50 Sunday lunch which is plain and simple. Nothing wrong with that as long as it’s good.
Here is deep-fried brie, Yorkshire pud with homemade gravy, prawn and salmon cocktail, melon fan and paté “with finger toast” followed by four roasts, that salmon, chicken in cream, fillet steak and vegetable lasagne. “Mmm, can’t see egg mayonnaise,” says my wife, thinking of her dear old mum’s favourite starter.
The premises, like the food, go back a bit. It’s been the Mogul, Dore Brasserie and Marsden’s tea room.
Jose (Joe) and Dolores Muino, who arrived from Spain in the early Sixties to work at the Hathersage Inn, bought it in 1990 after a career which included the Dam House and Pink Panther in Broomhill.
Today they and their daughter Elizabeth preside over a restaurant with a clutch of rooms seating 80, with another 20 in the conservatory.
The Dore Grill, with its half-panelled walls, red carpet and old fashioned food, is a well-loved venue by many in Sheffield, particularly those who have little truck with foodie fashions.
It is also a rarity in that it still does silver service, where food is brought on salvers and spooned on to your plate by the waitress – no fun for a chef keen on plate design or diners keen their gravy is not soaked up by spuds.
We sat down to our table serenaded by the Beatles (the Let It Be album) and I was delighted to see a plastic bowl – like those which held your scampi and chips at the old Fiesta – full of crisp Melba toast. It was to be the highlight of our lunch.
I followed with a couple of slices of decent black pudding fried in garlic butter but my wife was unhappy with her goujons. There was a bone in one. “Are you sure it’s plaice? I can’t taste much,” she said. I couldn’t either.
I’d gone for the roast pork because it came with crackling. It did, sort of. It was burnt and tasted as if it had been deep-fried. The pork was dry and dull and didn’t taste of much, the Yorkshire pudding was also scorched, the stuffing tasted as if it had simply been mixed with hot water and the cabbage was watery. But the roast potatoes and swede were fair enough.
My wife’s chicken breast came with cream, white wine and horseradish sauce. You would need a stronger tasting meat to counter the horseradish and the chicken just wasn’t up to it.
Sundays are relaxed at the Dore Grill. “Saturdays are swinging. Ian our DJ will play any kind of music: Sixties, Seventies, Beyonce, Snoopydoggy dog, 50 Pence (sic), Nat King Cole, Abba, you name it he will consider playing it,” promises the website.
By now we were feeling less than relaxed after two-thirds of a disappointing dinner. Perhaps the sweet trolley would buck us up. You remember them, very popular in the Sixties and Seventies, they were wheeled to your table so you could be tempted by the gateaux, crumbles, cakes and pies.
The Dore Grill’s trolley doesn’t. It is anchored by the door so it’s really a sweets cabinet. It also means the waitress recites the list of desserts so it is not a case of look and choose.
Crème caramel starts out in a teacup on the trolley but is decanted into a dish so by the time it arrives at your table has been unable to hold its own against the forces of gravity and finishes as a splodge.
No jokes about that sherry trifle: it really is a joke, with a lot of help from a tin of mixed fruit and not much from a bottle of sherry.
We asked for the bill and I felt in all fairness I had to tell Senor Muino that I didn’t think much of the food. He gestured around the busy dining room to indicate that a lot of people obviously felt differently.
That’s their right. I have nothing against ‘old fashioned food’ as long as it tastes good. Our Sunday lunch didn’t taste of a great deal.
Everyone mocks the Seventies but the food wasn’t all like this, was it?
With coffee and a couple of glasses of wine, we paid £45.50.