IT might be off-putting for some to enter one of Sheffield’s most talked-about restaurants by taking a brief diversion past a bike shop.
But at Moran’s, that’s the state of things – and at first glance, the place looks rather unprepossessing.
The restaurant is based in a small shop unit, which feels slightly like a prefabricated office or even – whisper it – a static caravan, with net curtains concealing the view on to the car park directly outside.
The decor is reassuringly traditional and woody, though, and the staff are welcoming the instant diners arrive.
You’re given the option of sipping drinks at the bar before heading for your table, but we opt to follow the herd and settle down to peruse the menus.
The a la carte selection looks mightily tempting, with roast supreme of guinea fowl showing promise.
But we’re here to try the five-10-five menu.
Moran’s is one of the latest Sheffield restaurants to introduce one of these, where starters, mains and desserts are priced accordingly.
Head chef and proprietor Bryan Moran, who took over six years ago following a lengthy stint at H’s in Bakewell, said the new menu was an effort to coax locals in Dore through his doors on a regular basis.
“It’s just about putting something in there for locals, something affordable to eat on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” said Bryan, aged 43, who learned his trade back home in Ireland.
“It got very quiet in the midweek as a direct result of the recession, or the credit crunch, or whatever you want to call it. We felt we had to do something.”
Plates of bread and a large jug of water were brought without us requesting them, always a good sign, and the wine list was well-stocked with plenty of half bottles on offer, from which we chose a £7 merlot.
The salmon and cod fishcake starter arrived on a giant, round plate, with the actual food nestling in a small recess in the centre.
The fishcakes themselves were thick creations, filled with chunky fish, although the pea and mint puree was rather stingy on the mint side.
Smoked chicken and sweet corn risotto also disappointed slightly, the actual flavour having been lost somewhere along the way.
The main courses were much more successful. Slow roast Gressingham duck leg was crispy but not too dry, with a rich, full flavour, while the pan-roast loin of pork steak was presented in a stack of tender slices with tangy, golden grain mustard mash.
Quantities are on the smaller side, so side orders are a must, which slightly defeats the object of the five-10-five, adding just under £8 to the bill.
Happily, Moran’s have put in the effort to create tempting desserts. The chocolate mousse was accompanied with soft poached pears and sharp, sweet coffee cookies, and was a little more elegant than the indulgent chocolate and pecan nut brownie.
Which is exactly what Bryan’s aiming for – though affordability’s a moot point.
With a standard meal for two totalling almost £55, for many this will still be an occasional treat, however the place was busy on a Wednesday night.
“The reaction’s been very positive,” the chef said.
“I think we’re probably getting some different people in but it’s more about getting our regular customers in more frequently.”