Silversmith’s, one of Sheffield’s top-rated restaurants, wasn’t born with a silver spoon in its mouth.
This is the place that Gordon rebuilt... The celebrity chef gave the place a rude awakening - and a down-to-earth, back to basics direction in Channel 4’s Ramsay’s kitchen nightmares back in 2009.
Do good local food simply and well, give great value for money and pull in punters on quiet nights with traditional favourites like a meat pie, he said, between profanities.
So they did. And Gordon Bennett, it worked.
The little venue tucked into Sheffield’s Cultural Quarter has been lavished with awards and glowing online reviews.
The place is featured in this year’s Good Food Guide, a major accolade, and last year a clutch of awards from Yorkshire food organisations - most notably Favourite British and Best Use of Local Produce in the Eat Sheffield Awards.
There’s still a pie night (£8.50) every Tuesday and throughout the week, there’s a menu offering two courses for £14 and three for £16. Considering many a restaurant can charge you that just for a main course, that’s got to be good.
We booked in on a Thursday night early doors, expecting to have the place virtually to ourselves. Not so; even at 6.40pm most of the tables were occupied. And before the clock struck eight the place was full.
We noticed the place is having a style revamp - the dramatic red and black and the leather and slate, a throwback to its glamorous days as a jazz club and the Runaway Girl bar and restaurant, has gone. In comes an homage to the building’s industrial heritage (it was once the site of George Ellis Silversmiths Ltd).
It’s a pared back, more natural look. Silver hallmark stencils pick out the Silversmith’s name on a wall clad in old planks. A hurricane lamp hangs over every table. We like it.
The menu features a handful of starters and desserts and a choice of mains, from a rolled rump of beef dish at £2.90 extra to seabass on garlic mash and a selection of their best pies. Side dishes, like savoy cabbage with bacon, are just £2. This bargain menu also runs as an early bird 5-7pm at weekends.
It’s local alright. From the cutlery on the tables (new, wooden-topped ones arrive any day) to the produce.
The menu - modern British - tells you what local farm the pork and lamb came from and even that the blackberries in the pannacotta were foraged in Nether Green.
Why Nether Green, you ponder? I’m told one of the staff lives there.
“Everything that comes out of our kitchen has been prepared, preserved, pickled, roasted, baked, mixed and hand-made by our chefs. We know exactly the provenance of all of our food and drink and the stories behind it,” boast Silversmiths.
My starter of tomato soup with cumin and coriander had that great, slightly grainy texture of a home-made, but could have done with more spices. But the hand-made slice of white bread more than made up for it.
My husband, ever the traditionalist, had opted for the Sheffield fishcake - one slice of fish between two of potato, fried in a batter laced with Kelham Island ale for lightness.
It came on a bed of mushy peas with a little shot glass of something orange and tangy-tasting, which turned out to be an odd, runny version of tomato sauce. The dish was tasty and well-made but needed a bit of extra oomph.
Pog Lane free-range chicken breast and thigh for my main came trendily, on crushed new potatoes with balsamic roasted tomatoes. It was full of natural flavour, thankfully - because the citrus marinade hadn’t really left its mark. I longed for a pool of something saucy.
His lamb burger, thick and succulent, reclined on cornbread with what was described as a Yorkshire cheese fondue on the top. I wondered what Ramsay would reckon to such a fancy way of describing melted cheese.
The best part of the meal was my dessert (when it’s only an extra two quid, why not?) It was that blackberry pannacotta. Lilac-hued and divine, it came with a shortbread disc, a cherry compote and a wicked little sprinkle of tarragon sugar. A well thought-out, delicious little treat, it was.
His £2 board of three soft, ripe and flavoursome Yorkshire cheeses with fruit loaf, biscuits, pickled celery and chutney (un-needed) was great value. We’d have liked a bit more flavour from the starters and mains, but the price was right. Throughout, the waitresses were fabulous; attentive without being pushy.
Our only beef was with the wine. Our large £5 glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon were vinegary. They were immediately taken away and replaced without quibble - though we were politely told it was supposed to taste that way.