As it was Victoria's birthday we decided to try The Old Vicarage at Ridgeway in Sheffield. We had heard good things about the food and as it is Sheffield's only Michelin starred restaurant we were keen to give it a go.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
As we arrived a waiter greeted us at the door and took us to what is best described as a drawing room. Sofas and chairs for you to sit while you had a pre meal drink and decided what to eat. We had a G & T to drink (words finest drink? Possibly!) and were served canapes while we enjoyed it. Onion marmalade parcels, cheese puffs, quails egg scotch eggs, cheese straws and olives. A lovely way to start a meal as you can see by the picture.
We then decided what we wanted to eat and were then brought the wine menu. They have 600 wines!!! This means that we were asked questions about what sort of wine we liked so that they could narrow it down for us. I said that we like French Bordeaux, something in a St Emilion or a Pomerol. When I had been shown the section for me I looked at the prices and was quite shocked. The cheapest wine was £42 a bottle for Lalande De Pomerol. Then it went up to £58 for a St Emilion and then up to £80, then £110 and then £150 a bottle. The prices topped out at about £400! We obviously chose the £42 Pomerol, not just because it was the cheapest but because we have had the exact wine before and loved it. We bought it for about £12 per bottle though!
After a while we were taken to our table and were served our (decanted) wine, bread and our 'surprise appetizer'. This was a white bean and cauliflower purée with ducks liver and it was superb. We then had our starters. I had Saddle of Ridgeway Hare on pickled red cabbage with gin and tonic jelly and Victoria had Smoked Eel Ravioli with Salmon Fillet. Both were once again amazing.
For mains I had Cod on a Parmesan and Beetroot Risotto and Victoria had Partridge with various veg. Once again, stunningly good food.
For dessert Victoria had a chocolate mouse with hot chocolate, mocca ice cream with hazelnuts and a coffee creme brûlée. I had a selection of extremely nice locally made cheese.
We then moved back to the 'drawing room' for coffee , petit fours, and I had a whiskey (16yo Lagavulin) to finish off the night.
The food was exceptional. Everything was perfect. I can think of no way that any of it could be improved. We seriously loved it.
The Old Vicarage was not perfect though. It was a bit quiet for our tastes. I know it is supposed to be formal fine dining but everyone seemed to be talking in a whisper and when Victoria and I were laughing as we were quaffing our second bottle of Pomerol in between courses we felt we were making too much noise. I would not go there with the rest of my family as we have a habit of drinking too much wine and making lots of noise.
The other problem was some of the other diners. I hate sounding like a snob but the place was full of chavs. It's as if they went there because it had a Michelin star and was expensive, not because the star meant that the food should be superb. For example, there was a party of four sat near us. Men in shiny suits and women in flowery frocks. During dessert one of the women had a jug with cream or something in it and the jug had a crack in it. She proceeded to berate the staff in a broad Sheffield accent, saying 'I think this is terrible. It's spoiled our night. I don't expect this from a Michelin starred restaurant!'. Blah blah blah. Utter tossers. Victoria and I really became fond of her when her mobile rang and she had a loud ring tone of Tarzan swinging through the jungle. This was explained by her friend saying in a loud voice 'er names Jane, funny init.' Er, no.
The third issue was the wine prices. Now I don't mind paying for a good bottle of wine but when they only have 1 bottle of Bordeaux at under £50 I think they are pushing it a bit. The first page I was taken too had bottles in the £220 range. Crazy, and obviously way beyond my price range!
Still, these small issues aside, we really loved our meal at The Old Vicarage. I thought that the meal was excellent and at £60 a head for 4 courses I thought it quite reasonable for the quality of the food. Obviously the wine prices were totally mad but everything else was quite reasonably priced. I won't tell you what the bill came to because I can't stand the flack I would get from Rachel. ;-)
In a word, try it if you like seriously good food. Highly recommended!