Rafters Restaurant Sheffield
I don’t think the people of Sheffield would mind me saying that there seems to be a dearth of good restaurants in Sheffield. Reliable chains such as Strada, Loch Fyne and Cafe Rouge are present and correct but more interesting choices are few and far between. On Friday we took some friends out for a birthday celebration to Rafters Restaurant in Ranmoor. Rafters has been there since 1994, and was taken over by Chefs Marcus Lane and Michael Sabin in 2001. The food is Modern European with a subtle french influence. When I arrived the room was filling up quickly with other diners which is always encouraging to see. The menu we were offered was:
Fritter of soft shell crab with a crab claw & avocado salad, ponzu mayonnaise.
Ploughman’s: warm goats cheese, ham hock, onion marmalade, piccalilli with sage focaccia.
Steamed new season English asparagus with lemon hollandaise, baby brioche & parmesan shavings.
Poached sea trout with confit of Jersey Royals, pickled cauliflower egg & caper dressing.
Home smoked duck breast with a salad of baby kos leaves, smoked feta and a raspberry & walnut dressing.
Roast rump of Derbyshire lamb with a broad bean puree, English asparagus and an almond & parsley sauce.
Fillet of pork wrapped in pancetta with a baby flan of peas and artichokes and a sauce of puy lentils.
Grilled fillet of sea bass on a bed of vine tomatoes & basil with a clam vinegrette.
Chargrilled fillet of Angus beef with a pressed pate of salt beef & green peppercorns, roast shallot and truffle puree with a Shiraz wine reduction.
Tart of summer vegetables glazed with mustard & herbs on whipped potatoes.
Summer pudding with Pimms’ jelly & clotted cream sauce.
Strawberry parfait, strawberry sabayon, strawberry frappe.
Valrhona dark chocolate cone filled with milk chocolate mousse, served with orange sorbet.
Blueberry curd and mascarpone cheesecake with baby waffles and vanilla syrup.
Locally sourced cheeses:
Hunters House (cows milk Brie)Hawes Dairy (Blue Wensleydale) Lancashire creamy farmhouse
Served with an olive, celery, apple and walnut salad.
(Filter, latte, cappuccino and espresso)
And petit fours
We were giving an interesting amuse bouche of smoked haddock with cream cheese in a parmesan basket with what looked like a tempura caper berry. It was very nice indeed. Bread was very interesting, warm rolls stuffed with interesting combinations. I had the rather gross sounding tomato and curry stuffed roll but it was absolutely delicious. I was only sorry that they didn’t come round again!
I had the poached sea trout to start, with the beef to follow. The sea trout sounded rather hearty as a dish and I was slightly worried about being too full for the main but I was a relieved when it arrived as an elegant tower of sea trout supported by a wonderful, slightly tart potato and cauliflower salad. Great start. My companions had the asparagus which looked verdant and fresh and the soft shelled crab which looked fresh and crisp and was portioned perfectly.
The mains of beef were pretty good. The meat felt a little tough for fillet. I thought that the provided steak knife for fillet steak would be overkill but it was actually required to easily cut the meat. It was cooked medium rare as I asked but somehow seemed less than tender. The accompaniment of a pate of salt beef was interesting but in my opinion overbalanced the dish on the meat side. The small (for 4) portion of side vegetables didnt help this matter. The sauce was well flavoured though a bit clarty (good Yorkshire word!) probably a bit of over eagerness with the cornflour. It wasn’t bad though and it was quite nice as a whole.
Dessert was excellent. Again, a well constructed tower of bread, summer berries, clotted cream and a Pimms jelly riding atop. I have to admit, I couldn’t taste the Pimms in the jelly but it was a great idea.
Service was excellent and unhurried, we asked for a digestive interval after the main course and without hovering they seemed to instinctively know when we were ready for dessert.
Rafters is deservedly a favourite amongst discerning diners in Sheffield and its good to see that it has not been swayed by the constant obsession with adding ‘twists’ to classic recipes and instead produces top quality, jolly interesting food.