Cargo Hold an “excellent and welcome addition to the Sheffield restaurant scene”.

Revitalising a building that has been left empty for decades, Cargo Hold has a mission to deliver vibrant, full-flavoured Mediterranean-inspired cuisine to a corner of Sheffield city centre that could do with a boost. We sent Phil Turner down to see if they were on the right track…

Cargo Hold Owner Shaun Campher is certainly ambitious. By opening his first restaurant in a building that hasn’t been used for decades, on a strip of Sheffield that is pretty uncluttered when it comes to night time trade, and calling it Cargo Hold (named after the restaurant in his native South Africa in which he proposed) certainly shows guts. And after discovering that he’d also like to turn the whole building into a boutique hotel with a speakeasy downstairs, it’s clear he isn’t one to do things by half.

And the good news is that the early signs are promising, certainly as far as his restaurant is concerned. Located at the top of Church Street, next to Café Piazza, Cargo Hold was originally a Magistrates office but has lain idle for 20 years. Shaun and his team have transformed it, keeping the character of the building but creating a warm, welcoming environment to compliment the Mediterranean menu.

Shaun’s background is hospitality through and through; he opened Alibi on Trippet Lane a few years back and has also worked at the likes of Popolo and Las Iguanas, so he knows a thing or two about food and drink. And it shows. I kicked off with a dish he’d recommended; the grilled calamari in garlic butter and Cajun spice which was unlike any other calamari dish I’d tasted. This isn’t your typical deep-fried and battered calamari; this is lightly dressed, delicately grilled and worked superbly even without the welcome addition of a aioli dip. My partner went for the deep fried camembert which she wolfed down before I could sample a mouthful. Thanks.

Co-owner Shaun Campher

A promising start but things got even better once the mains came out. The food at Cargo Hold isn’t strictly your classic Mediterranean menu, yes there are some dishes you’d expect to find such as a Greek Meze platter, carbonara and lasagna but plenty of dishes are more of a fusion of flavours than a series of the tried and trusted. Among the mains on offer is a garlic and rosemary lamb rump complemented by a risotto verde, while the salmon fillet comes with garlic butter green beans, fregola, cherry tomatoes and chilli.

I was feeling peckish, so plumped for the 10oz rib eye steak, medium rare, which came with plum tomatoes, skin on fires a rosemary and red wine sauce. It was tender and full of flavor but that didn’t stop me getting major food envy when I tried a mouthful of my partner’s choice. She had gone for the fish stew from the specials board which was a creamy, smoky concoction of juicy king prawns, cod, mussels, salmon and squid… and was utterly sensational. If I could have poured the sauce into a mug and drunk it on the way home, I would have. We skipped dessert but did enjoy one of their sharing cocktails – the gin-based Mad Hatters Tea Party which came in a teapot and smoked as it arrived on the table, very dramatic and very suppable.

An excellent and welcome addition to the Sheffield restaurant scene, Cargo Hold is unpretentious but stylish and serves well balanced, fully flavoured, Med-inspired dishes alongside some super sexy cocktails. They’ve just launched their Christmas menu (two courses £14.95 at lunch or £19.95 at dinner) and it’s the perfect spot for a festive party. Well worth checking out.

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