As much as I like my food (that’s a lot by the way, in case you were still in any doubt), I’ve never had a huge affinity for a traditional Sunday roast. I know, I know, as a citizen of Britain I should bow down and worship the roastie every Sunday – but I just find it all a bit uninspiring. My first thought was that maybe I’ve just had too many terrible roast dinners but I doubt that is the case, as growing up, my Mums were always spot on. I’d also like to blame the advent of the lowly carvery and their questionable clientele but the truth is, I could probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve set foot in those well known establishments. Maybe it is just the fact that I have seen the horrors of a bad Sunday lunch – the tough, chewy beef waving a sad lonely white flag as it watches the withered, tired looking vegetables being torturously boiled to within an inch of their life. All things considered, I’m probably just looking for something a bit more. Something special.
Luckily there may be light at the end of the tunnel in the unlikely form of The Riverside on the edge of Kelham Island district of Sheffield. A previously well known haven for live music, facial hair and grungy types with and uneasy obsession with Kurt Cobain, it has, over the last year, been taken over by True North Brew Co. (of Common Room/Forum/Old House fame) with a vision of becoming more family friendly, food driven and well-rounded place to visit. After our visit as guinea pigs for their new Sunday lunch menu (which goes live on 4th Sep) , it is definitely heading in the right direction.
The transition is ongoing within the pub itself – a familiar old pub smell of real ale and regaled tales full of bravado gives way to wooden floors and an exciting canvas on which True Brew will no doubt put more of a mark within the next few months. The exterior to the rear is surely one of the best spaces of it’s kind in Sheffield, placed as it is along the river and the views that accompany it with extensive seating to boot. Definitely a place to watch the world go by.
Upstairs however is where the Sunday roasts are planned to take place. A space that has been recently converted into a seated dining area with old school charm and quirky canvasses on the wall – various portraits of middle eastern women using inverted colour. Sat by the window overlooking the river, we were more than ready to order our food. With beef or pork on offer, the restaurant critic in me said that we should order one of each between us, but you didn’t get crackling with beef…and crackling can’t be underestimated. Two pork dishes please!
First food impressions were excellent – a range of vegetables, none of which had been boiled or roasted anywhere near more than they should. Succulent pork with a perfect marbling of well-cooked fat was accompanied by two giant homemade Yorkshire puddings, a good slab of well seasoned stuffing and crispy, salty crackling batons . Roast potatoes, the likes of which I could have done some of that worship over, were crispy yet fluffy with a great hit of garlic. Gravy was rich and home made apple sauce was a great accompaniment – especially for that ever so crispy crackling.
Eaten together, is was a very established Sunday lunch; definitely a cut above the usual pub fair.
More than once have our family bemoaned the fact that we can’t find anywhere nice to go with the kids for lunch without resorting to a soulless chain restaurant. At £9.95 each for Sunday lunch, the city centre value that this represents along with the planned development of a family friendly area downstairs, might just be enough to give us that option. I’m still not a total Sunday lunch convert (not sure I ever will be!) but there is enough good in what is happening at The Riverside to make it worth a visit in the future.