FOOD REVIEW: A new venture is making a big impression at Norton Lees, as Julia Armstrong found on a visit to Bishops Coffee House...

Dining Out. Bishops coffee house at Norton Lees run by Shaun Yarde
Dining Out. Bishops coffee house at Norton Lees run by Shaun Yarde
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Shaun Yarde opened Bishops Coffee House and Bistro in July, his first solo venture after working at Rock Island Diner in Meadowhall, the Great Burger Kitchen and other chains and latterly at the Dam House Restaurant, which he left last year.

He must thrive on stress because while he was setting up the bistro his daughter Lily arrived – and then he got the call from Deal or No Deal.

Shaun had done well at the auditions for the TV show, appeared within about five weeks of finding out he’d been successful and got his turn at being the man who chooses the boxes.

He said: “About three weeks after the baby came I had to go to Bristol for filming. It was the experience of a lifetime I’ll never forget. I met people who were there for lots of different reasons.”

Shaun managed to win £20,000, which although it wasn’t a life-changing amount of money, as the show’s catchphrase has it, obviously helped a lot with the cost of the new business.

He added: “Noel Edmonds was great. He kept promoting the coffee shop.”

People still stop him in the street now to talk about the show and the fact that he would have won a lot more if he’d taken a bigger gamble.

That must feel good because the coffee house on the parade of shops on Lees Hall Road was met at first with hostility from locals.He had taken over takeaway premises and residents thought they were getting another one at first.

Judging by our visit on one of the regular bistro evenings, all has been forgiven as the place was fully booked and people had been turned away.

The coffee shop, named after the nearby Bishops House, runs during the day and bistro nights take place twice a month, In addition there are burger and shake nights every Thursday and Shaun reflects his family heritage on Caribbean Fridays. He also offers Sunday lunch.

When we arrived, the very pleasant Sharon, who is front of house, greeted us and gave us the menus.

It’s bring your own wine with no corkage charge and there’s a Co-op open late next door if you’ve forgotten.

The deal is three courses for £20, with three or four choices for each course.

My friends Phil, Kate and I tried all three starters, which were stilton, spiced pear and walnut salad, lightly curried parsnip soup with warm crusty bread and chicken liver and mushroom pate with cranberry compote and onion crostini

Be prepared for a relaxed evening because we had a bit of a wait betwween courses.

Still, it was a promising start as Kate enjoyed her salad, although she’d have liked a little more dressing, and my soup had a good depth of flavour. and some pleasant spicing.

Phil wanted a bit more bread with his pate, which he really enjoyed, and Sharon happily obliged.

Our main courses were pan-fried lamb rump with a spicy ratatouille, loin of cod served with garlic crushed new potatoes and a pesto dressing and roast belly pork with Normandy red cabbage and a cider jus.

I thoroughly enjoyed my lovely piece of tender pork with crunchy crackling and the sweet and sour red cabbage cut through the richness of the meat well.

Kate was equally delighted with her lamb but if you like it pink you might be disappointed. She said that the ratatouille was very good.

Phil’s portion looked a little on the skimpy side compared to ours, with the crispy-skinned cod served on a bed of potatoes, but he said that it was fine and duly polished off the lot.

The other choice was a beetroot risotto with sweet herbs and goat’s cheese.

I think I grabbed the winning choice of the three desserts. My homemade lemon and sweet ginger cheesecake was fabulous, a perfect combination of sweet and tangy.

Kate enjoyed her chilli and chocolate mousse served with shortbread but she couldn’t really taste the chilli, which is a shame as it’s a great combination.

Phil’s apple and cinnamon tartlet with clotted cream ice cream really hit the spot, even though the pastry was a bit hard to cut through. Weirdly, it wasn’t tough in the mouth.

I had a very good cup of coffee for £1.70, the only extra we had to pay for.

lVerdict: definitely deal on all fronts – good food, nice ambience, excellent value. Be quick and book for the next bistro night on May 21.

lBishops Coffee House and Bistro. 5 Lees Hall Avenue S8 5JE 01142 581999 or 07971 660057. www. bishopscoffeehouse.co.uk

lOpening times: Monday and Wednesday 9am-5pm, Thursday and Friday 9am-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm (10pm on bistro nights)

lBurger and shakes on Thursday, 5 -9pm, homemade burger, chips, coleslaw with an ice cream milkshake for £6. Caribbean Fridays, 12-4pm a choice of two dishes for £5.50, 5-9pm a choice of four dishes starting from £7 with a selection of side orders and desserts. Sunday breakfast served 9am-11.30pm, Sunday lunch noon-4pm, with a choice of two meats, £6.95. Booking is advisable.