Halifax Hall Hotel, Sheffield – Restaurant Review
Halifax Hall Hotel, Sheffield
by Roger Crow
It goes without saying that fine food is crucial to good restaurants, but like a great comedy act, timing and atmosphere is just as essential. Wait too long for a punchline and punters lose patience. If the atmosphere in the room is too cold, gags won’t fly either.
So while reviewing Sheffield’s groundbreaking colourful, fun Jonas Hotel next door, my partner and I jump at the chance to try out an acclaimed high end eatery on the doorstep.
Halifax Hall on the west side of Sheffield City Centre is relatively close to Ecclesall Road, a thriving region filled with bars, pubs and restaurants. In short, competition is fierce. Situated within The University of Sheffield’s Endcliffe student village, it seems that perfect spot for some high end dining without the short trek to ‘Eccie road’. The fact it’s drizzling means we’re twice as glad of the short walk.
I can’t fault the reception we receive. Warm, inviting, helpful. Within minutes we’re shown to the dining room and sit by the window where we’re left to peruse the menu. It’s the final hours of a wedding party, so we share the room with some of the gifts. Which is fine, though feels a little odd, like we’ve gatecrashed someone else’s do. Autumn has also gatecrashed our dinner, so the room is chilly and the radiator is cold.
The menu looks pretty good and the prices aren’t bad. An affordable £19.95 for two courses or £24.95 for three; does anyone really think they’re getting a better deal for 5p less than £20 or £25 anymore?
As Rachel’s Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini is no longer available, she opts for Goat’s Cheese Mousse with Pickled Beetroot, Puffed Pumpkin Seeds and Henderson’s Relish. Mine arrives with another diner’s, so after a flash of confusion the waiter delivers both dishes to separate tables and retreats to the kitchen to get Rachel’s.
My Cider Braised Pork Belly starter is great. Crispy, tasty, well cooked. A success, though what Rachel eventually gets is not really mousse but goat’s cheese – with cream (one of her personal bugbears); two discs of pickled beetroot; broken crackers (!) and no relish. A fellow diner is also lacking a key ingredient with his dish, so we’re not alone.
I expect someone will come in soon and clock the fact we’re cold. When they don’t I try and shut the windows. They have no intention of budging so I draw the curtains instead.
After what seems like an age, my main, Pan-roasted and Cured Salmon, is sorely missing a side dish, and the Savoury Oat Crumb may have transformed into more of those fragmented crackers. Hard to tell as it’s so salty, and compressed dill pickles drown the taste.
The salmon is great, but feels a bit lonely. I can’t complain. It’s true to the menu description – with added crackers.
Thankfully a few mouthfuls of Rachel’s Tomato Risotto main (she leaves most of it) help balance the dish and the taste. Alas, there are more garden pickles. (Pickled cucumber. With risotto. Seriously?)
Between courses our waiter takes the plates. He doesn’t ask if we enjoyed the meal. Maybe he senses the slightly chilly atmosphere not caused by the open window. We wait a while to see if there are any queries from curious staff. Nothing, so we down our drinks and call it a day.
There’s a sense that all the energy, and the pumpkin seeds, went on the wedding, while we were left to our own devices as an afterthought.
One of the excellent waiters bids us a good night as warmly as we’d been welcomed. Though glad of the experience, next time we’re passing we might check if there’s confetti on the doorstep before dropping in for dinner.