Food Review: Graze Inn, Ecclesall Road, Sheffield

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Deep fried Yorkshire pudding with ham hock, beef dripping and Hendo’s?

Pinch me, surely I’m dreaming…

Actually we’re in Graze Inn on Ecclesall Road looking at starters on a pretty busy Sunday evening - especially busy when you consider the students aren’t back in any number yet.

For £3 the Yorkshire dripping fritters are the bargain starter of the year - though my companion ordered the scallops & crab gratin with Welsh rarebit & buttered leeks at £9 which seemed a bit steep for a miniature, if glorified, fish pie.

Especially when you consider, tasty though it was, that there were only three pieces of scallop along with a few chunks of crab.

Apparently Graze Inn gets it’s seafood from Colchester but even though delicious and all the way from Essex, £9 seems a lot.

By contrast the dripping fritters were a prudent Yorkshire delight.

Light and crisp with a hint of beef, a pot of reduced Henderson’s Relish to go with the shredded ham hock meat. Top stuff.

The fritters came in strips and reminded me of a thing cubs and scouts used to cook around a campfire - ‘twist’ I think we called it - dough wrapped around a twig and toasted over the embers.

For the patient and lucky cubs their ‘twist’ turned out golden brown, fluffy and light just like these fritters - but not very often.

Graze Inn is a lovely looking place and impressed our Sheffield Telegraph reviewer three years ago with its eclectic décor and country store feel. But it’s a look that fast caught on elsewhere with Bill’s in the city centre and others trying a similar approach.

That shabby-chic look, the new-old furniture, the old-new stairs and panelling is fast becoming a bit popular.

Still very stylish - but as the trendsetters who forked out £42 for posh Farrow and Ball paint three years ago find, now they can get almost the same colour in Wilkinson’s for £12 - the look perhaps doesn’t have quite the allure it once did.

Graze is part of the Brew Kitchen group, a partnership between Sheffield chef Richard Smith and Thornbridge Brewery who between them have The Inn at Troway, The Cricket Inn, Totley and Smith and Baker just down Ecclesall Road among its eateries.

Our waitress is attentive and polite and after a short wait our main courses arrive. I went for Moroccan meatballs, Joe chose Tiger prawn, chorizo & crab linguine with ginger, spring onion & chilli.

The meatballs were gorgeous. Beautifully cooked, pink inside with the flavour of good quality lamb, from Owen Taylor in Derbyshire – no minced-mush meatballs here.

They came with a chick-pea and Harissa - a Tunisian hot chilli pepper paste and za’atar - a combination of middle eastern herbs all in a chickpea casserole with a dollop of Greek yoghurt .

Good hearty grub, though I’d like to have tasted a little more spice – not necessarily heat - for the full Moroccan experience.

The linguine was a rich pasta dish with a lots of nicely cooked prawns – none of the overcooked pink bullets some places turn out, chunks of crabmeat and a spicy chorizo that went perfectly with the lightly-spiced sauce and hit of ginger. Very good.

As was my dessert which turned out to be enough for two. I had caramelised banana, rum and raisin ice cream, seven-hours cooked condensed milk, vanilla cream and snickers popcorn . It was huge and delicious. The seven-hour condensed milk caramelises as it is cooked in a water bath and becomes a sticky delight, odd as it may sound. The flavours go brilliantly and the blow-torched sugar on the bananas gives a toffee-type texture all topped by the Snickers chocolate bar flavoured popcorn.

Joe had the cheese and biscuits with home-made sticky challot chutney, Yorkshire Brie from Barncliffe near Huddersfield some Yorkshire blue and a Gruyere. Enough cheese for a main course was his comment. He wasn’t complaining.

“We seem to be going from strength to strength,” said Graze Assistant manager Josh Marsland.

“It’s quite busy to say the students aren’t back yet – we always notice a difference when the universities start up again. We will be changing the menu in a few weeks. Richard Smith and chef Mark Calverley are working on some variations now – though the rotisserie chicken and flatbreads will stay as they are.”

So what about that slightly pricey scallop dish?

“I suppose £9 is a bit expensive for a starter but we do get the freshest and best scallops from Colchester and they do cost quite a lot to buy in. With the dripping fritters we know people love a bit of Yorkshire pudding. We add dripping to the mix and the fritters are deep fried. That’s served with a Henderson’s relish reduction and the ham hock. It’s a very popular starter.”

Of course it is.

Quality like that is always in fashion.

For three courses, half of Estrella and half of Jaipur our bill was £52.95 with £1 going to Sheffield Children’s Hospital charity.

Star rating out of five

Food: 4

Atmosphere: 4

Service: 4

Value: 3