Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference.
Warmth of greeting, speed of service, a surprise on the menu.
In The York’s case it’s all three.
Plus helpful bar staff, good local beers and a friendly atmosphere that puts diners at ease.
In the end of course, it’s the food that counts and the Kane Yeardley-owned York , in Broomhill, one of a chain of eight Sheffield-area North Star eateries – doesn’t do half bad there either.
It gets easy to predict what’s going to be on most pub menus – pies, sea bass, thingy burger, chicken what-not and sticky toffee sameness, mostly comforting and familiar, but occasionally dull and repetitive.
Offering something a bit different can go a long way.
So when The York menu offers hake and scallops, soused celeriac, pickled pineapple and fennel and twice-baked Stilton soufflé it lifts the night before it starts.
We arrived starving and half an hour early. No problem, the bright and positive staff are all smiles, offer help in choosing beers and show us to a table in an instant.
“Thank you, we do try to focus on customer service,” said shift manager Ed Skinner. “We like our staff to engage with people, we pride ourselves on that.
“A lot of our staff are students, Sheffield University halls of residence are nearby, but we have full-time staff as well.”
One of those is new head chef Mike Bevan who moved to the York from the Summer House in Totley only three weeks ago. So what about all that pickling and sousing?
“With the pineapple it’s not a harsh pickling liquor,” said 31-year-old Mike, originally from Shrewsbury, who trained at the Walnut Club in Hathersage.
“We use vinegar, sugar, star anise, cardamom and cloves. We find it goes well with the bitterness of the mustard in the ham hock bon-bons.”
So did we Mike, we are big pickle fans in our house.
The sweetness of the pineapple, the tang of vinegar and the aromatic spices add up to something a bit special that lifted my bon-bons (breadcrumbed and deep-fried ham hock balls) starter to another level.
Joe had potted mackerel, sourdough bread and soused fennel which again was a subtly pickled and spiced, flavourful and creative surprise.
The mackerel pate was rich, smoky and fishy with a good grain, the sourdough toast crunchy and substantial – though Joe thought another slice would have helped. Great start and the True North beers – brewed in the city centre – were light and delicious without being over-hoppy.
The York was originally a blacksmith’s and a travellers’ inn from the 1830s. Six years ago The York was a Scream pub, a chain of student-oriented outlets, until Kane Yeardley took over.
Tonight we are eating at changeover time – when the early evening crowd of dutiful suburban parents with their angelic Ambers and Oscars leave to be replaced by dating couples, girly gangs and students with paying dads.
For main course this dad had the aforementioned pan – fried hake and seared scallop with sautéed courgette and pommes Parisiennes and student son Joe had pancetta – wrapped pork fillet stuffed with chorizo and served with mixed pepper paella, tomato and chilli salsa. Both looked delicious.
The hake was firm and meaty with good flavour and nicely cooked – though the skin was disappointingly soggy rather than crisp.
Pommes Parisiennes are small scoops of potato, parboiled and roasted in clarified butter with thyme and garlic. Lovely.
The scallops are seared top and bottom and soft and perfect within and the ribbons of courgette, seasoned and sweated in a pan are fine and all topped with pea shoots and a lemony jus. It’s a good dish.
Joe’s pork fillet is stuffed with what chef Mike calls ‘blitzed’ chorizo so the flavor from the chorizo bleeds in to the pork loin and the pancetta wrap adds smokiness.
Joe is all elbows and cutlery as he sets about demolishing Mike’s creation.
“I wouldn’t normally choose paella but it’s got good flavours that go together well, the pork, pancetta and salsa are gorgeous,” says he between mouthfuls.
All ingredients are sourced locally, and Mike says he’s always keen to try out new ideas, specials or themes – and promises more of both.
The York makes its own desserts too but Mike and I agree the panna cotta lacked ‘wobble.’
“I think you’re right,” said Mike a day or two later. “I tried that batch and though the flavour was good they were a little hard so I changed the recipe and they’ve got their wobble back”
Nice to hear. The flavour was indeed excellent as was the rhubarb compote that came with it – why don’t we all eat more rhubarb? It’s always so good.
Joe’s chocolate mousse cake had good chocolaty flavour in the rich mousse and I felt a bit mean telling Mike I thought the fat-free genoise sponge slightly dry, but he jokingly recommended more cream. Sound advice. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. For three courses each, a pint of beer and a glass of excellent Chilean sauvignon blanc our bill came to £61.90.
Star rating out of five:
The York, 243-247 Fullwood Road, Broomhill, Sheffield, S10 3BA
Tel: 0114 2664624
Open: Sunday to Thursday: 10am – 11pm, Friday and Saturday: 10am-midnight