It’s almost a year since the old University of Sheffield hall of residence in Endcliffe village underwent a £1.8m renovation and was relaunched as a boutique, 38-bedroom hotel.
With its leafy, tucked-away location, Halifax Hall is popular as a wedding venue, but is also becoming a regular haunt for reunions...
Groups of former students, who studied in Sheffield from the 1960s to the 2000s, are drawn by a heady sense of nostalgia and use the hotel as a luxury base to meet up and relive their university years.
Built in the 1830s and originally named Endcliffe House, Halifax Hall was once home to Sir Joseph Jonas, a German-born industrialist who went on to become Lord Mayor of Sheffield.
In 1959 it was renamed in tribute to Lord Halifax, then Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, and for the next 50 years it was home to students – complete with its own dining room, bar and common rooms.
Over the past year, this area has become the province of head chef Steve James. And it is his mission to create a contemporary restaurant worthy of a high-end hotel.
James has worked in the food industry for 27 years, in restaurants across the country: from Scotland’s Michelin-starred Gleneagles hotel to a number of more local venues, including the Beauchief at Abbeydale.
He’s enjoying the challenge of running Sheffield’s newest ‘hidden gem’ and building up its reputation – though there have been one or two tricky moments...
“We had a VIP buffet dinner where I’d prepared a seafood platter on a six-foot mirror, with eight whole salmon, lobster, prawns – the works,” says James.
“I’d warned all the staff not to go anywhere near it or there’d be trouble. But the pot washer obviously hadn’t heard my warning and managed to drop a clean roasting tin on to the salmon – which crumbled into pieces, seconds before service. Salmon everywhere!”
But he loves the restaurant: “It’s a delight to be a part of a venue like this. It has a special feel about it and guests are invariably quite surprised when they find us nestled among the trees.”
Steve prides himself on using fresh, local ingredients – the team grow their own herbs on site.
And he likes to show off the quality by keeping things simple.
“I’m a humble family man who likes spending time with my kids and having the occasional beer. Treacle-cured beef is one of my favourite dishes... which is why I’m adding it to the Fathers’ Day menu on June 15.
“Marinating the beef in treacle gives a deep flavour and adds a bit of extra intensity to a great cut of meat.”
Treacle-cured beef & Yorkshire puddings
with crispy roast potatoes and wilted spinach
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
BEEF & VEG:
1.5kg sirloin beef
200g black treacle
8 Maris Piper potatoes - cut into chunks
2 tsp plain flour & a pinch of paprika (mixed together)
salt & pepper
450g plain flour
Mix the treacle and water together in a large bowl, add the beef and cover with clingfilm, leave to marinate for 24 hours.
Pre-heat oven to 180ºc. Remove the beef from marinade and pat dry. Heat oil in a large frying pan and seal the beef on all sides.
Place in a roasting tray and cook for 45-55 minutes (to be served medium). Remove from the oven and rest for 15 minutes.
Whisk all the ingredients together to form a batter. Warm a little oil in Yorkshire pudding tray, then ladle in the batter. Bake for 25 mins at 180ºc until well risen.
Blanch the potatoes in boiling water, place in a roasting tray.
Sprinkle over the flour and paprika mix and season, then drizzle with vegetable oil and bake for 20-25 mins at 180ºc until crisp and golden.
Melt 50g butter in a pan, add the spinach and cook for 2-3 mins until wilted. Season before serving.
Place the spinach on to a plate, top with two slices of roast beef.
Add Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes and serve with either red wine sauce or beef gravy.