Wellington wins Napoleon's Food Fight
I always love being asked if I would like a drink at the bar before sitting down for food. In a world where we feel constantly rushed, it's nice to have the opportunity to relax into things; it also helps to make diners feel welcome and wanted…
So despite the husband moaning of hunger pangs when we arrived for dinner at Napoleons on Ecclesall Road we were soon joined by a pint of lager and a small glass of wine as we perused the monthly changing menu. Once seated in our booth we ordered a bottle of wine; a really tasty bottle of Australian Shiraz. Priced at around £17-£18 we thought, given the quality of the wine, that this was great value.
I have to admit that when it comes to choosing a restaurant to spend an evening, a casino isn’t top of my list. It's not just that I'm not a gambler, it's the fear of bright lights and noise. My idea of atmosphere is a background hum of chat and a little music; not listening to slot machines and people crying as they've lost their life savings.
So when Napoleons invited me for dinner I wasn't convinced that it would be my cup of tea. But then I started to remember all the good things I'd heard about their restaurant; my hairdresser still raves of a Christmas meal she'd had two years ago and the restaurant was shortlisted for an Eat Sheffield Award only last year. A quick glance at the reviews on Trip Advisor also told me that I was in for a treat so I greedily took them up on the offer.
On arrival I was glad to find that the restaurant, situated to the front of the building, was completely separate from the casino. No need for us to sign up as members! Concerns of bright lights and noises recede! In fact Napoleon's restaurant is a smart space with a selection of booths, open tables and a function room to the top floor ensuring that all diners are catered for. The décor felt a little 80's what with the plush gold velour seating and flash bar, but seating was comfortable and the furnishings were spotless and in good condition.
Napoleon's menu is fixed price with two courses for £17 and three for £19, Sunday to Thursday and £22/£24 on Friday and Saturday, although some of the more premium dishes do carry a supplement. There’s also a 'Dine In Style' option where diners can enjoy a drink on arrival, have a three course meal and then have a go in the casino with a £5 gaming chip and a demonstration provided by the staff. That's costed at £22 Sunday to Thursday and £28 Friday and Saturday.
Back to our meal and a starter of pumpkin and thyme soup pleased the husband and although I have been trying more soups recently, I fancied something a bit more substantial and went for the duck confit spring roll. Tender pieces of duck were wrapped in quite thick, almost pastry like, pancakes with a side of a citrus and fennel salad. A few sticky dollops of a red berry sauce were a welcome addition to the plate and really helped to cut through the richness of the duck. Other starter dishes included seafood cannelloni, goats cheese salad and smoked mackerel pate.
The starters had been pleasant enough, but they did nothing to prepare us for the mains which were probably two of the best main dishes we have been served in a while. The husband went for the beef Wellington which carried an £8 supplement, pushing the three courses to £32. As soon as the dish arrived we could see that this price hike was justified. An individual Wellington was a more than ample portion and it came with sides of a potato terrine, roasted parsnips and a Bearnaise sauce. The beef had been cooked to the husband’s requirements, rare, and it was delicious. A light pastry topping sealed the deal and either one of us would be perfectly happy eating that dish again.
Despite being wowed by the Wellingont, I actually wasn’t jealous as I had gone for the roasted rump of lamb with a smoked bacon gnocchi and pea and parsley cream. Once again, the meat was cooked as requested and it was stunning; it was actually one of the best pieces of lamb I remember eating. Not only was the meat tasty, it was really well cooked; pink as you like in the centre but with a good caramalised crust to the outer layer. The gnocchi with bacon, peas and parsley was good, but surplus to, my, requirements. That lamb with a simple watercress salad would have more than done me!
After a short but appreciated rest we ordered a dessert to share as I was quite pleasantly full at this stage. Raspberry and fig mousse took our fancy although the Twix cheesecake also intrigued. The mousse was creamy, but light on flavour which didn’t really work for the sweet toothed husband, but was fine for my tastes. A perfectly formed tuille accompanied the dish.
We left feeling satisfied. We’d enjoyed the food and the wine, and the service had been good too. Attentive and friendly without being in our faces, we’d felt comfortable and relaxed and although I hadn’t really considered Napoleons as a dining option in the past, it’s somewhere I could see myself returning to, especially midweek when the menu is particularly keenly priced. I reckon it would also be a good choice for a large group; in fact a 21 st birthday party arrived as we were leaving.
Win a meal for six (plus chips!) at Napoleon's Ecclesall Road by spotting Exposed's lucky tiger underwear on the Napoleon's website. Let us know where you spot them by filling in our compo form here.