It was a dark and surreal night. We’d arranged to meet doyen of Sheffield food writing Martin Dawes and his lovely wife Sue to try the food at the intriguingly named ‘No Name’ restaurant in Crookes.
“We’ll meet in the Punchbowl at 8 o’clock” tweeted Martin. No problem, said I……..except when we got there The Punchbowl was closed and since Martin and I either talk face to face or by Twitter or Messenger, neither of us ever got round to exchanging phone numbers so we had no way of contacting them to advise of the situation. Lemmy suggested the next pub down the road and advised that they’d obviously do the same. Thankfully they did and Sue informed us that the website Martin had used to find the bus stop they needed had said it was the one opposite Saxone shoe shop which closed in 1996. Spooky? A Time Slip? A restaurant with No Name? It was with trepidation we ventured forth wondering what fate had in store. Oh, and the ladies had decided that next time THEY were sorting the organising of the travel arrangements.
No Name is cosy. 22 seats at a push. The menu is cosy too. Three starters, four mains and two desserts but hey, I only usually eat one of each and even with such a small menu, I was spoilt for choice from the start. I wanted both the chicken starter and the scallops, the duck leg and the lamb. I went for scallops and duck.
I like to play games with myself as to how what actually arrives compares with what I imagine it will be. The scallops….will they be cooked in the modern style, one side only? Will the celeriac be both smooth and pack a flavour punch? Apple caramel and hazelnuts, toasted to add a lovely textural crunch?
The dish looked a treat:
Three good sized scallops from William Howe in Sheffield WERE seared on one side only so that left them lovely and soft but beautifully cooked. That meant the hazelnuts, which WERE toasted, gave the most lovely crunchy counterpoint to the soft meat. Little apple matchsticks had a sharp taste to compliment the sweet caramel. The celeriac puree silky smooth but, for me, lacking a bit of celeriac taste. But I’m nit picking, it was a gorgeous, well thought out and put together dish.
Mr Dawes went for the crispy chicken and, as you can read in his review here, was surprised by what arrived in the best possible way.
Starters duly demolished, it was time for mains, duck for me and Mr Dawes:
Someone, who shall be No Nameless, had kindly removed the bone from the leg so it was a joy to eat although Lemmy was a little annoyed as she does love to knaw on these things. A lovely rich yet sharp blackberry jus had some blackberries pickled in blackberry vinegar in it which lifted the sauce to another level and, once again, gave a counterpoint to the rich tender duck. But for me, the absolute star of the whole dish was the potato Rosti. Crispy to the point of crunchy on the outside. Soft and layered on the inside. I’ve ruined many a tea cloth squeezing all the moisture out of grated potato to make Rosti (and been scuffed round the ear with said tea cloth by the Lemster) so I asked Tom what his method was. It was ingenious so I’m keeping it secret, sorry.
Lemmy’s Lamb shank, which she proffered freely around, was expertly cooked and it’s leg shaved to the point of decadence. Good mash and a fine red wine jus completed a cracking dish.
Mrs Dawes reported that justice had been done to her stone bass. Considering it’s such an ugly brute (the bass not Mrs D. who is beautiful) that only its mother could love, no mean feat. It’s known as the Atlantic Wreckfish and looks nothing like that other famous bass the sleek, steel skinned Sea Bass. Lemmy had it for the first time this summer at Robert Thompsons on the Isle of Wight and it’s rapidly becoming de rigueur at hot restaurants. Sadly that’ll no doubt send its price through the roof.
A creamy, warm chocolate mousse with a texture like velvet and a light, light honeycomb, must have been good ‘cos Lemmy even said she’d lick it off my body if it meant she could have more, rounded off a memorable meal.
Being nosey devils, Martin and I went ‘backstage’ to find the enigma that is No Name chef and found, firstly, Tom Samworth, the eponymous Chef No Name, but also an astoundingly small kitchen into which was crammed No Name, two induction hobs, an oven, some fridges and a sink with a determined lady scrubbing away at the pots and pans and plates. To produce food like this in such a small space is a bit special. Especially when Mrs Samworth, Megan, who’s due a happy event in a very short while is in there taking plates out to customers too.
No Name? Tom wanted something to get away from the drudge of cooking gammon and fish and chips for trippers to the Peak District and this gave him some anonymity. I applaud him because I’ve been there. My answer was to give up the trade, his was to get his own place and cook the type of food he wanted to eat.
Well Tom and Megan, I’ve got to tell you it’s the type of food ANYONE would want to eat. If they don’t, then, as a famous bird once said, “Let them eat gammon & chips.”
We all loved it. One gripe is that, I suspect, we’re going to have a hell of a job getting a table in the not too distant future. As another famous man said in a famous film with a big fish in it: “Tom, you’re gonna need a bigger boat!”
So out into the night we went. More weird happenings, the bus home was on time….Spooky!!
No Name Restaurant
Tel: 0114 266 1520