Food Review: Graze Inn

The place

Split with the rustic themed Cowshed bar, the restaurant area has a shabby chic, farmhouse feel – not too informal for a date and not too chic to bring the kids down either.

The food

First up, don’t pass on the complimentary bread selection with zesty oil and balsamic dip while you’re waiting for starters; it easily rivals the quality of offerings from swankier get-ups. We decided to share the battered onion with dips to start, as it was described as a house signature. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but just to confirm, a whole battered onion is exactly what a whole battered onion sounds like it will be. If that sounds like your thing, enlist a couple of friends to help you take it on and for Pete’s sake bring mints if you’re on a date.

On to mains, it’s a good sign when a restaurant opts for a soupy broth for a fish and pasta dish, rather than going down the more obvious white sauce route. Graze gets it right with their rather delicate king prawn and salmon linguine in a mild chili liquid. The finely chopped veg and pine nuts offer a welcome crunch and the lightly cooked tomatoes are allowed to achieve their full flavour potential.

My dining partner went for the Graze Inn staple of a rotisserie chicken half, which comes sparingly seasoned but is easily kicked up a notch with a dollop of the salsa-like Graze Inn ketchup. A moment or two is needed to discuss the accompanying sweet potato fries too, which managed to avoid being as overpoweringly sweet as many lesser versions and their curiously light batter had more in common with Japanese tempura than chip shop grease.

For dessert, the stack of meringue, cream and berries arrived looking like a small wedding cake. Best to share it unless you’ve really left some room. The thick cream and the sharp raspberry sorbet were the real standout players here and worth prioritising. The passion fruit crème brulée was shoulder-shakingly tart, especially with the lime sorbet, but demonstrated yet more of Graze’s willingness to mix things up a little.

The verdict

With quirky, comfortable settings and a menu that has enough inventiveness to see it rise above the crowd, but enough pub classics to keep it grounded, Graze Inn does what so many big chains are trying to replicate right now, but a darn sight better – and it’s independent!

Graze Inn, 315-319 Ecclesall rd,

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