Triple winner in the 2018 Westside Restaurant Awards
I went to Brocco On The Park with a pulverising hangover.
The night before my visit to the stylish hotel and restaurant on Brocco Bank, I’d been out for a casual catch-up with schoolfriends. We ended up nightclubbing till 3am. When you’ve just turned 30, the after effects of those late nights linger longer than they used to.
How fortuitous, then, to be spending Sunday afternoon somewhere so ideally suited to the soothing of sore heads and hungry bellies.
Brocco is Sheffield’s home of ‘hygge’. The Scandinavian word, pronounced ‘hooga’, refers to a feeling of cosiness and contentment. And that’s exactly what you get the moment you walk through Brocco’s doors.
Owner Tiina Carr has Finnish roots (hence the double ‘i’). That Scandi background has clearly given her an eye for design. In Brocco’s ‘neighbourhood kitchen’ restaurant, the walls are pale-coloured but not clinical; flowers and plants are dotted subtly around the room; and the overall effect is bright and inviting. Even the loos look great.
On Sundays the kitchen serves roast dinners, alongside its usual lunchtime menu. Accompaniment is provided by live jazz – local duos playing chilled-out covers of classics and chart hits. Perfect, particularly for my delicate state.
So both the setting and soundtrack are brilliant – but even in the best restaurants, those things can easily be undone if the kitchen and/or front-of-house aren’t up to scratch. I’d been to Brocco once before, not long after it opened, and there was teething trouble – hit-and-miss service, average food.
No longer. We were looked after by a waiting team at the top of its game – a sea of smiling faces, attentive but never fussy. As for the food, it alternated equally between the excellent and the outstanding.
To start, my ham hock ravioli (£8) were tasty and delicate, narrowly beaten in the flavour stakes by my girlfriend’s earthy mushroom soup (£6). (Is a good mushroom soup ever anything other than ‘earthy’? Answers on a postcard please.)
Onto mains, and a sweet potato and mixed-bean cassoulet (£14) tasted of smoke and spice, with toasted seeds adding texture and interest. She’d chosen the roast beef dinner (£18), and I was counting on her not being able to finish it so I could snatch a taste myself. She is very small. The dinner was very big. My luck was in.
It was glorious: tender beef, a lighter-than-air Yorkshire pudding, and an accompanying dish of cauliflower cheese which was the best I’ve ever had the good fortune to eat. A lemon posset with blueberry and jasmine compote and chunks of homemade honeycomb (£6) brought things to a sharp, sweet finish.
Had I had the proper foresight, I would have booked out one of Brocco’s gorgeous hotel rooms in advance, trundled upstairs full and satisfied, and rested my weary head on a fluffy pillow. Sadly, I had to go home instead – but at least I’d had an incredible, world-class meal, every detail of which I’d remember for weeks to come. Shame I can’t say the same about Saturday night.
Brocco on the Park, 92 Brocco Bank, Sheffield S11 8RS. Tel: 0114 266 1233