Calamari and Gravlax at Double Tree

It might have been transformed by the Hilton Group but Meadowhead's Double Tree restaurant still means business. 
Saved from closure by the Hilton Group last year, it's not the most glamorous looking hotel from the outside – the visiting business customer is still a core audience –  but once inside the newly renovated dining room things looked a damn sight prettier.  With smart tableware, comfy seating and a bar area housing a grand piano, we settled down at our table quite comfortably.  This being a hotel restaurant, the dining room was busy with residents escaping the four walls of their hotel room and businessmen working after hours.  A party of about eight ladies sat down about half way through our meal making for a real mix of diners.
The menu is quite traditional with popular choices including ham hock terrine, sea bass and steak, but things are kept interesting with dishes such as roasted cauliflower, fennel and okra curry.  Everything's reasonably priced with starters going for about a fiver and mains starting at about £11.  There's also a fixed price menu making this a bit more affordable for those on a budget.
Wanting to put the hotel to the test, I chose one of my favourites for starter; calamari with an aioli dip (£7.50).  Not only is calamari one of my favourites, it's also a bit tricky to get right as it's prone to overcooking.  Thankfully this one passed the test.  Thick chunks of calamari had a little bite but still melted in the mouth.  The batter was just how I like it; light and airy.  The dip was good and overall it was a good start to the meal.

The husband also went for a light starter.  Homemade gravlax (£6.96) was said to have been cured with dill, vodka and lemon but the beautifully deep pink colour to the edge of the fish suggested that some beetroot had made its way into the marinade too.  The side of ginger roasted lemon chutney was the main reason for his ordering the dish; and it was interesting. With the heat of the ginger and tartness of the lemon working quite well with the clean tasting salmon- it proved to be a very tasty opener.

For main, I almost went for the sea bass, but I gave in to the carnivore in me and plumped for the lamb shank (£18.50) instead.  The waitress warned me that there would be a wait as the chef is quite particular and likes to ensure that his shanks are perfect before they leave the kitchen.  I was happy with that; how could I complain at a chef wanting to take care over my dish?!
It was served with mash and some kale making it a perfect dish for a winter's evening.  The meat was tasty and tender, gravy was thick and rich and the mash was creamy.  It was a large dish, and although I tried to finish it, the huge pile of mash did defeat me and I had to give in without clearing my plate.

My husband also stuck to the traditional British options for mains and ordered cottage's pie (£14.25).  Hardly the most exciting option on the menu, but the inclusion of feather blade of beef and oxtail in this cottage pie really sold it.  It was well presented with the pie served in a little copper saucepan and veg to the side.
It was really good; the meat filling was packed with chunks of tender meat and rich gravy.  The potato topping was tasty and veg was cooked well with a bit of bite left to the carrots.  We were both pleased with our choices.  
Purely for the purpose of the blog, we also went for dessert.  Once again I ordered something that involved a bit of a wait but given how much we'd eaten so far, this was no great trauma.

 My cherry brandy and dark chocolate pot (£4.95) was well worth the wait. The taste of brandy came through quite strongly in the chocolate and I felt like I was eating a big fat liquor chocolate (no bad thing!).  The pistachio brittle was unusual as you would normally expect to see peanuts being used.
It was good, although the switch in nuts lead to the brittle tasting raw or more natural than previous brittles I'd had.

The hubby went for honey and ginger panacotta and it was gorgeous.  The panacotta was light and creamy with subtle flavours of honey and lemon coming through.  There was perfectly formed shortbread too.

All in all it had been an enjoyable meal.  The food had been consistently good all the way through the meal and although there wasn't any amazing 'wow' factor to any of our dishes (probably a consequence of our choices), there was some good solid cooking and I'd happily recommend the hotel to anyone wanting to stay in Sheffield, just on the back of the food.
Visit The Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Sheffield Park website here.

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