I had a small window of opportunity to visit The Old Vicarage as I was planning a trip for other reasons within the area and was also an opportunity to meet up with some old friends in Sheffield I had not seen for some time. They were keen to join me for the experience so the table was booked for our dinner early January 2013. This was the fifth stage of my Michelin Star journey.
The Old Vicarage is a stately Victorian house and set in a rural location not far from Sheffield city centre. Similar to my visit to The Yorke Arms, I would have liked to visit on a sunny day to take in the surrounding countryside but this wasn’t to be. Being a mid-week night in the depths of winter, there were not many other diners so perhaps there was a little lack of atmosphere but that didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the occasion. Tessa Bramley, the owner and chef, was on hand to ensure we had everything we needed and it was nice to have the opportunity to meet her.
Pre-dinner drinks were served in the lounge along with a plate of very tasty canapés.
We were invited through to the dining room which was elegantly furnished and the tables dressed with crisp white table cloths and place settings with shiny cutlery.
The amuse bouche was very good – little piece of sole with liquorice foam and mash potato I think. I was uncertain how the liquorice would go with the rest of the plate, particularly as I am not a liquorice or aniseed fan. It certainly wasn’t overpowering and was more a hint of flavour which relieved me! It was actually a very nice dish.
We were offered a selection of bread rolls to go with our starters. I had a delicious white bread roll with black pudding, still slightly warm. It was a very interesting flavour, if a fraction too salty for my palette but still exceptionally good.
My starter was lovely – polenta cake with figs and oven dried tomatoes.
Not that I am a vegetarian but I often do choose a vegetarian option and this didn’t disappoint. The flavours all complimented each other well.
My main was Whitby Cod on bed of spinach, saffron roasted potatoes, winter veg and squid.
It was a delightful dish with lots of different textures, colours and flavours. The one puzzlement I had though, I thought there was to be chilli but couldn’t taste it.
For dessert I chose treacle tart and custard with chestnut mousse and orange sorbet.
The custard was ‘real’ fresh stuff loaded with vanilla seeds and was deliciously smooth and rich. The only thing that didn’t really work for me that much was the orange sorbet; it was a tad too tart for me and generally am not a sorbet fan. I prefer full cream ice cream! The tart and chestnut mousse however were delicious.
We took coffee in back in the lounge with petit fours – homemade chocolates, biscotti & brandy snaps.
Overall I very enjoyed the visit here to The Old Vicarage. It would have been a ‘fuller experience’ shall we say if there had been more diners there to add to the atmosphere. This is not to take anything away from the food and service which were all excellent.