It’s fair to say that the relationship between Craft & Dough and I got off to a pretty inauspicious start. A chance encounter on a Saturday lunchtime late last year led me to ultimately complain about our experience a couple of days later. This is no mean feat for me, as I am usually resolutely British about such issues and would rather crawl up in a ball in the corner than have any type of confrontation. I leave the complaining to the bold, brash and American’s amongst us.
I like to think I went about things the right way though. Emailing them direct gave the restaurant some kind of right of reply to my questions rather than airing them on social media or worse, TripAdvisor (the apparent bane of the restaurant trade) where, truth be told, far too much dirty laundry is aired already
If we’re honest about things, a bad experience could happen anywhere and in any type of business. For me it was more about how they responded to our comments and what their take on it all was. Luckily for us, Craft & Dough chose to invite us along again to prove what they were really all about. I’m so glad they did. It would have been awful to go away with the memories of our first visit, when they are clearly worth so much more.
Part of the Milestone group of companies, Craft & Dough now have three different sites in the city; on Ecclesall Road, Kelham Island and Campo Lane (on the site of the old Wig & Pen). The move toward pizza and the conversion of the Campo Lane gastro-pub in particular seem to point toward a slightly more relaxed and informal dining experience but with a focus still on good food and craft beer.
In the early evening dinner spot on a Friday night, this is exactly what we were able to enjoy. Via the partial light of their kitchen, the bold lettering of the restaurant came into view through the floor to ceiling windows as we visited the Ecclesall Road outlet with its prominent corner plot position on this ever influential Sheffield street.
The informal attitude continues inside with wide open space, open floorboards and mimialistic wooden partitioning. However a warm glow from the full length bar at one side of the room and various tea lights dotted around lent an air of ambience at the same time. Sat with a view of the bustling street outside, we were more than ready to be converted.
A half plate of ploughmans to start maybe doesn’t sound inspired, but the selection of meat on offer more than made up for it. More Mediterranean platter than traditional ploughmans, the large board was full of slices of chorizo, salami and spicy Calabrian meats – all served at room temperature as they should be. A number of slightly gooey chunks of Brie and a Parmesan and rocket salad lend a good dollop of balance to the meaty goodness though. Unfortunately, the pickled onions were missing from the board.
A second starter of chicken terrine was a pinch of salt short of wonderful. It was powerful and very meaty and served with a lovely acidic homemade piccalilli, which offset any lack of seasoning when taken together. all washed down with a fraught IPA which was pale yet powerfully hoppy.
Beer was the perfect lead in to our pizza main, as they generally tend to go hand in hand. Spicy nduja pizza was full of powerful sausage meat but with enough garlic and fresh basil not to feel heavy – I would highly recommend the brushes garlic crust (which sounds much posher than it actually is).
A taco pizza wasn’t exactly what it said on the tin (no tacos) but it surprisingly tasted very much of Mexico. The addition of refried beans was a bit of a master stroke and added to the fresh flavours of the tomatoes, olives and spring onions. The fact that a different combination of flavours could be found in each different mouthful definitely kept the pizza varied and interesting. A bit of a winner if we’re honest.
A thoroughly enjoyable early evening meal was enjoyed by the both of us. I’m glad that we managed to organise to see what they were really about down at Craft & Dough, as our first experience wasn’t a true reflection. They’ve managed to find a space in the Sheffield market for a high end pizza restaurant that is priced keenly enough to cater for students and families yet still sit well in the Ecclesall Road area of the city with its historic ally more affluent clientele.
Go bold and go and give them a try!