Restaurant Review: Rafters, Oakbrook Road in Sheffield
There’s nothing better than finding an unexpected treasure of a restaurant. Somewhere that can’t rely on a brand name to get people through the door. An eatery which changes its menu with the seasons and champions local produce. And it’s for those reasons that I so loved eating at Rafters – a tiny restaurant on the outskirts of Sheffield.
Upon entering, it quickly becomes clear why it’s called ‘Rafters’ – the ceiling is made up of huge wooden beams which hang over a smart dining space. Originally used as the stock room for an old Co-Op supermarket, it has stacks of history. But let me reassure you, this restaurant is most definitely contemporary, offering an exciting range of dishes or ‘food experiences’ as the menu calls them.
My mother and I tried out Experience One which was, in a word, delicious. Although it’s billed as a three course dinner, the meal begins with several light appetisers including breaded quails eggs and bitesize servings of yuzu-cured tuna tartare. A quick note – don’t skip the bread. The treacle slice is incredible and also a nod to Sheffield, courtesy of the spicy Henderson’s Relish butter it’s served with. The local influence also rubs off on the dainty Sheffield tart, a mini pastry topped with locally produced Little Mester Cheese – it’s one heavenly mouthful of creamy goodness.
Then came the starters… the highlight of my dinner was the BBQ’d miso pumpkin served in a shitake broth. Like broth’s should be it was rich and earthy in flavour. The pumpkin was tender and oozed that gorgeous smoky, chargrilled flavour. The charred salmon was equally as good and worked well with the sour crème fraiche and tangy yuzu-soaked cucumber.
After several quirky plates, the mains were more conventionally British – and we opted to try both the duck and the cod. The generous portion of duck breast was succulent and flavoursome, as were the sides of confit carrot and buttery January cabbage. The pan fried cod had perfectly crisp skin and sat on a mound of pasta, drizzled in langoustine broth – it was suitably rich and I enjoyed every bite.
It’s safe to say the indulgence spilt over to our pudding too. Now I’m normally partial to sharing a dessert, but on the night we dined at Rafters, it was my Mum’s birthday and she quite rightly said: “it’s my birthday and I’m not sharing dessert”. A solid move, as both puds were devine.
Our favourite was the de-constructed Yorkshire rhubarb cheesecake, which impressively boasted three types of rhubarb: poached, salsa’d and tuilled. Accompanied with a nutty ginger crumble it was delightful. Having said that, we pretty much licked the other plate clean, which can only mean the passion fruit and chocolate pudding was equally as impressive.
Speaking of impressive, Rafters wine list is definitely worth mentioning. Unlike the food menu which limits guests to three choices, the drinks menu is full of options. We shared a bottle of Domain Road’s Pinot Gris which went down a treat.
From the outside, you really wouldn’t think Rafters is anything special, in fact you could be forgiven for walking past – the entrance is sandwiched to the side of a window shop – but in a way, this makes what’s inside all the more splendid. In true Sheffield spirit, it’s fine dining without the pretence, the waiters are relaxed and approachable, the menu isn’t flashy and over-the-top and the interior is simple but welcoming. What’s not simple however, is the food and attention to detail and I’ve no doubt we’ll return again.
Address: 220 Oakbrook Rd, Sheffield S11 7ED
Phone: 0114 230 4819