Dinner at Artisan

Richard Smith has established a decent name for himself in the Sheffield restaurant scene.
Not only is he the proud owner of four establishments in the city, he's a well respected foodie and even has his own blog in Exposed Magazine. A good test of my foodie objectivity!
Artisan is the more formal of Smith’s Sheffield restaurants and I wanted to see just what Richard Smith & co were made of (and make amends for the duff steak I’d once had at Canteen)! So on Saturday night we made the trip up to the heights of Crosspool where Artisan is based.
Arriving at the restaurant, we were delighted to find that we were being seated at one of their best tables. Artisan has roomy and comfortable booth-ike seating and we were nicely placed at the back of the restaurant, away from other chatting diners.
We'd already sussed out the menu on the net, so knowing what we wanted, we quickly ordered. On quizzing the waitress we were glad to find that we could take advantage of the 'three courses for £27' deal, even though the husband was only having a starter from that menu and I was having the main and dessert. Good to see this kind of sensible approach being used to deal with simple requests.

Once we'd ordered our meals some pre dinner nibbles arrived in the form of Mini Tomato and Garlic Bruschetta and Mini Salmon Fishcakes. It was all very good; especially the oil and balsamic vinegar dipping pot. But our first course was a bit more staggered than expected. My starter suffered an accident on its way out the kitchen and rather than replace both dishes, the husband was served whilst I had to wait for a replacement. I was only twiddling my thumbs for a couple of minutes but it would perhaps have been wise to have taken my husband's dish back to the kitchen too.
This was one starter that wouldn't keep though and the husband's Yorkshire Blue Cheese Soufflé and Classic Waldorf Salad (from the 3 for £27 menu) had a good consistency and he was happy with the strength of the blue cheese in the dish too. Not too much to overpower his pallet but enough to let him know it was there.
The Gateau of Fresh and Smoked salmon, Mini Scotch Egg with Kiln Roasted Salmon, Cucumber, Crème Fraiche Caviar and Bloody Mary Dressing (£8) I had for starter was right up my street. The salmon was gorgeous. Dressed in a very steak tartare-esque style with bits of onion and capers in there; it was fresh and clean and just how I like my salmon. The salmon roe was a surprise for me. Although the menu had said there was caviar, I hadn't expected the roe. I love these peachy balls of salty goo, I really do! The Scotch egg, perkily balanced on top, was another winner. After all, salmon and egg is a classy breakfast combo so this was hardly going to fail.

For mains I went for the Short Rib of Beef and Ox Cheek, Brown Butter Mash, Grandmother's Garnish, French Beans and Glazed carrots (from the 3 for £27 menu). This was delicious. The meat was incredibly tender and tasty after being cooked away for hours. It was serious melt in the mouth stuff. There was quite a lot of sauce on the plate and normally I don't like too much but this was rich and tasty. I don't know what the Grandmother's garnish was; perhaps it was the mass of parsley on top of the dish. This would normally be a bugbear for me, but the dish was so good, I didn't care.

My one and only criticism is that the dish was far too big (and my starter hadn't exactly been small) and because it was so good, I'd had to finish it all, which only caused problems at dessert time.
The husband too had a large main dish to contend with. The Plate of Pig was just that with fillet wrapped in Parma ham, sticky belly pork, Artisan faggot, Poxon's black pudding, home roasted crackling, celeriac mash, sweet and sour red cabbage, Granny Smiths, sage and scrumpy gravy (£22).

The dish was fine, not stunning, but certainly not bad either. I think I would have shown more interest had there been more interesting cuts on there; a bit of hock, a bit of cheek and a bit of ear would have grabbed my attention. As it was I was more than happy with my lot. The husband was also happy enough but he did think there could have been more gravy given the amount of meat on the plate.
By this stage, we could both have happily passed on dessert, but I wanted a full review so we pressed on. Sticking to the 3 for £27 menu I went for the Cheese Board. I do love a good cheese board but this was probably a mistake given how much I had eaten so far.
Again portions were large and I was served the whole shebang with grapes, celery, chutney, oatcakes and bread and some quince jelly. Phew! Like I say, I do love a good cheese board, and this was a good cheeseboard, but my previous two courses had seriously dented my chances of enjoying it to the full.
The husband had the Trio of Crème Brulee. To his relief these were served in quite manageable portions! There was chocolate, the usual vanilla and orange and they must have been good as he managed to finish each one.

All in all we'd had a very pleasant evening. The food was very good, the service was friendly and efficient apart from the accident with my starter, the décor was smart and it is one that I will return to. However, next time I'll be sticking to two courses!
Artisan, 32-34 Sandygate Road, Crosspool, Sheffield, S10 5BR
Reservations : (0114) 2666096
What are your thoughts on restaurant portions? Do you like to come away nicely full, or do you feel like you haven't had your money's worth unless you're bursting at the seams? Use the comments section to let me know your thoughts!

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