Review – Barrett's Bistro
Barrett's Bistro only opened its doors in May, but it's already establishing a damn good name for itself.
People are raving about it on Twitter and it's had some decent reviews. There has even been the suggestion that the food is Michelin star quality; fair praise for any restaurant, but especially for one that hasn't even been open a year.
The chef/owner is also keen to market the place and he's been posting pictures of his creations on Facebook. Everything looks amazing and I've been drooling over the dishes for a while. With this in mind, it's no surprise that Barrett's has been high on my 'must try' list and I was quite excited to get a table at quite short notice a couple of Friday's ago.
The restaurant's a bit of a trek out of town (about £8 in a cab) and it doesn't look like much from the outside. On entering, we discovered that the restaurant wasn't any bigger than the standard living room room and although there were about eight tables in there, we didn't feel crowded once seated.
The menu reads very well and I would have been happy with a few of the dishes on there. As a lover of red meats I would have joyfully worked my way through the dishes of lamb, venison, duck and other game. Unfortunately the bank balance (and the belly) only allows for one of each course so I had to narrow down the choices.
For starter I went for the Goat cheese, poached baby pear, caramelised coconut drops and Adzuki bean salad with biyaldi roasted aubergine (£6.95). It looked fantastic (although the slate plates are a huge bugbear of the husband's) and I eagerly tucked in.
The goat cheese was amazing. There was a good strong flavour and it had been rolled in a nutty mix which complimented the smooth texture of the cheese perfectly. The watercress leaves were fresh and beetroot is a favourite addition to any goats cheese dish.
But hang on. Wasn't I supposed to get poached pear? What about the coconut drops, the adzuki beans? And where was the biyaldi aubergine? Luckily I only realised that these had been omitted when ordering dessert and had a chance to look back over the menu, but once I'd realised that so much was missing, I found it odd that I hadn't been told when ordering.
Despite that, I did really enjoy the dish and I would more than happily eat it again.
The husband had East coast mackerel “peppered and pan-fried” with shallot, caper and mustard potato salad and sweet pea purée (£6.95). Again, the dish looked special, but unlike my starter, it did what it said on the tin and had everything as stated in the menu.
The mackerel was beautiful (I am falling in love with this fish anyway); skin was good and crispy, fish was perfectly cooked. Potato salad was as expected and pea purée was good. It was a decent serving too, especially when compared to mine. Not that I had any fear of going hungry!
For mains I had Duck breast, honey glazed confit leg, chilli, plum and duck savoy parcel, duck fat confit potato with a plum and summer berry sauce (£16.95).
Of course the duck was well cooked; crispy skin with delicious pink meat. Tucked underneath the slices of breast was a serving of pulled leg meat and the chilli. On first mouthful, I actually got a bit of a shock as it was hotter than I thought it was going to be. I think I had just hit on a concentrated chilli area as the rest was milder. It was good, I like a bit of heat in dish anyway and it was nice to see it being used here.
Duck savoy parcel was great; especially as the savoy cabbage still had a bite to it and wasn't at all overcooked. The duck fat confit potato was delicious with all the taste of a well roasted potato.
The husband had Pan roasted venison haunch steak, beetroot gratin, glazed beets, spinach and sautéed wild mushrooms with a port jus (£16.95). This dish looks a bit haphazard; there was just so much on the plate! Of course looks aren't everything and the key point is that it tasted good.
Venison was as pink as you like and full of flavour. Although I do really like this meat and would usually choose it over duck, I wasn't jealous and we were both happy with our choices.
On the waiter's recommendation we had ordered two side dishes of caramelised carrots and buttered greens. They were delicious, but not desperately needed. Don't get me wrong, they were eaten (because they were that good), but portion sizes were just right so I wouldn't bother with sides next time.
Up to this point we had been happy with the service. There had also been a nice ambience to the place and we decided that we would stay for desserts. It was then that I noticed the missing starter items, but as we were both happy with the quality of the food and we were having a pleasant time, we stayed and planned to have coffees (and petit fours) too.
Spotting the blueberry and lemon cheesecake on the dessert menu I knew what I wanted quite quickly (I didn't take a note of the price for this, but I'd guess it would have been around £5-£6). The husband went for the crème brulee (again I would think that this was around £5-£6).
Unfortunately it was at this point that our meal took a real nose dive. For a start the desserts were not up to scratch. The husband's crème brulee had a caramelised topping that was far too thick, so thick that he struggled to get through it. Once through, he found a partially cooked custard. We were back to missing parts too as strawberries were nice, but the promised black pepper was missing.
My dessert was also a disappointment. It was a cheesecake without the base, which, in my book, is not a cheesecake. Digging in, I couldn't taste any lemon. In fact, it was pretty bland and relied on the sauce and surrounding blueberries for flavour. The jelly on the side was a strange one. It was interesting in that it had a mint leaf along the bottom side of it, but I would have much rather have had my cheesecake base. Now, I don't mind the odd exciting take on old favourites and I've enjoyed de-constructed cheesecakes in the past, but this wasn't de-constructed, it was the cheese without the cake!
But it wasn't the desserts that caused us to leave without finishing the final course, without our coffees and petit fours and without leaving a tip. No, it was the music. Throughout the starters and mains there had been some relatively chilled out music playing from the kitchen, but as soon as our desserts were served, the music became heavier and louder.
I don't know if it was because the kitchen had served their last dish (and it was late in the night as we had booked the table for 9pm), but the kitchen seemed to forget that we (and another table of 4) were only next door. Without a door separating the kitchen and dining room the music travelled through loud and clear. It got to the stage where I had to go to the kitchen and ask them to turn it down, which they did (without any real apology or embarrassment for disturbing us in the first place), but it was still pounding through and totally unacceptable. We asked for the bill and left.
I left the restaurant feeling angry and disappointed. It was as though the kitchen had switched off for the night and they were just waiting for us to leave. Not a nice feeling; especially when we were paying decent prices for the pleasure of being there.
To sum up then, the majority of the food was very good (even if elements of dishes were missing), service was efficient and it was reasonably priced (mainly because it's BYOB without a corkage charge). I think that I can safely say that our problem with the music level was a one off and it's highly unlikely that your evening will end the same way as ours.
Would I go again? If it was in town, yes, but I'd be tempted to make sure we had a table earlier than 9pm so that we would miss the kitchen rave up! As it's all the way up past Woodseats, I'll probably leave it a bit. Having tried it once, it will now go onto the 'must return one day' list.
Should you go? Yes. This one is going places and it's worth making the trip whilst the restaurant is BYOB and you can still get a booking. My niggles are easily ironed out and they are probably just a sign of a new restaurant making a place for itself in the market. If you've visited Barratt's why not let me know how you got on in the comments section?
Barratts, 2 Hutcliffe Wood Road, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S8 0EX. Phone: 0114 2491055