Wig & Pen, Sheffield
During a former life, the Wig & Pen was a scruffy, sticky-carpeted drinking den with nicotine ceilings and Artex walls frequented by fruity barristers and journalists. My dad (a pub landlord himself) was a friend of the owner and used to take me with him now and again, on his day off. When I was about ten. Sounds inappropriate, I know. But it was the old days, and that’s just the way things went.
Imagine my surprise on walking in to the re-born Wig and Pen, expecting to at least recall one or two dark, dusty corners, to find it gussied up, all blond wood, chic dining booths and walls covered in that Norwegian Wood paper. Strong money’s been spent on it and those nice people from the Milestone at Kelham Island are now running it. The food’s had a make-over too since my day. Gone are the pork scratchings and cheese ‘n’ onion toasties. Instead, crab ballotine, smoked pepper and tomato veloute and tomato fondue served with lemon thyme oil (£6.50) is a colourful starter with freshness shining through it; my new season asparagus with crispy egg yolks and chorizo dressing is a triumph, too – simultaneously punchy and velvety.
Mains-wise, roast rump of lamb with crushed Jersey Royals, confit tomatoes and tarragon dressing (£16.50) does exactly what it says on the tin – a simply cooked and presented plate of food; what a rare pleasure that is these days. Pan fried mackerel fillets, fennel, pepper and shallot a la greque, olive tapenade and rosemary oil likewise, the fish perfectly judged, the accompaniment offsetting any oiliness – of which there was none.
Raspberry and Prosecco jelly with black pepper short bread and basil granita is a taste explosion – fabulously thought-through – but served on a slate. A slate? In 2011? Probably a post-ironic joke, but lost on me. However. Generally a good do; if I had a niggle (ha! As if ..) I would ask the over-enthusiastic (but cheery) waiting staff to stop asking me every five minutes ‘everything ok for you ladeeez?’ Believe me love, if everything wasn’t ok, you’d be the first to know.