A plain eater, a vegan and a carnivorous caveman dieter walked into a pub...
It sounds like one of those bad jokes which ends in a tussle or a terrible punchline, but this was our predicament last Sunday lunch.
Where on Earth could possibly cater for that nightmarish set of requirements, never mind in Sheffield?
Enter Sentinel Brewhouse: a former carpet showroom, now brewery, pub, event space, eatery and more.
The self-styled ‘theatre of beer’ opened last spring.
Owner and star master brewer Alex Barlow, together with head chef Brez Barwise, like to continue the beer theme with the food menu and have recently launched their Sunday dinners at £16 for two courses, or £20 for three.
“We wanted to give a more family friendly Sunday offering”, said Brez, who came back to Sheffield for the Sentinel job after several years in London restaurants.
“There aren’t many independent places in the centre of Sheffield offering Sunday lunch and most people tend to go out to the countryside for it.”
It’s rare too to get a vegan Sunday lunch - or one that isn’t just a plate of vegetables.
And Brez has spent countless hours peering through the oven door, trying to master the egg-free Yorkshire pudding, still, he says, a work in progress.
“One of my biggest focuses is that vegetarian or vegan food shouldn’t be just an afterthought”, he said.
“It should be given just as much care as everything else.
“I have got a little notepad with a list of all the failed experiments that didn’t work on vegan Yorkshires.
“My latest have got the crispiness and the taste but it is hard to get the rise right.”
Experimentation is quite a focus at Sentinel - which is planning to sell its beer breads on the bar soon, and comes up with dishes based on the latest creations made in the vast, visible tanks of the brewery.
A collaboration during the upcoming Sheffield beer week will take the marmalade and citrus flavours from a breakfast beer to create brioche, while chocolate and orange stout has made jaffa cake brownies, and there is even a lager dough in the offing.
Brez added: “A lot of the time Alex makes a beer and that provides a basis for what we are going to do next.
“Apart from getting everything prepped our day is about coming up with new ideas - we’ve got a great team who love getting creative.”
The team have certainly been busy putting the tucked-away spot on the map, with everything from pre match sausage roll and beer offers to pop up opera.
When we called it it was rather quieter, and we chose a picnic like table near the bar.
Barstaff provided table service unasked, and could recommend drinks for all tastes or restrictions.
Starters on the Sunday menu include their almost famous Scotch egg - and I plead with big appetites to have it. The golden yolk is runny inside, the meaty outer shell thick and crunchy, with home-made brown sauce and black pudding hints to boot. Just eat it.
We shared some coley goujons, thick slabs of fleshy fish with a dusting of lemon, parsley and parmesan. There was a very subtle malt vinegar mayonnaise to dip them into as well.
My main was the roast pork loin. Two hefty pieces of succulent meat - with just enough fat - lay under all the trimmings.
At the top, a light, crispy and marvellously risen Yorkshire pudding, with a small dollop of flavoursome celeriac mash, green beans and sweet, orange roasted carrots. The roasties were behemoths - crunchy on the outside but mealy dry inside, and so big that they soaked up gallons of the rich, intensely sticky, dark brown gravy.
I’d be nitpicking to say they needed a bit more duck fat to properly crisp them up,
That gravy seemed to have a (welcome) fennel flavour, but it may have been the promised cider apple sauce, which I couldn’t see anywhere else.
His beer-brined chicken supreme was juicy, with plenty of it, plus the same accompaniments.
The (recently turned) vegan was impressed with the Yorkshire.
“It tastes just like the real thing”, she said. High praise indeed.
Nut roast is often the case for meat-free diners, but this one was a combination of mushrooms, oat, pearl barley and walnut, with great texture.
A mushroom gravy was no less tasty, too.
I’d skipped the Scotch egg for dessert instead, so it needed to be good. The Sentinel RRG and rhubarb cheesecake had real substance to it.
You could taste the cream cheese in the filling, it had a subtle pinkness from the seasonal rhubarb and came artfully arranged on the base with strawberries on top. His waffle bowl was just that - a solid, almost gingery curved bowl, filled with one of their randomly flavoured ice creams.
In this case it was one based on Lovehearts confectionary, all sherbert and sugar.
With drinks (a delicious cider and house beer) we paid £72,90 for three people.
Sentinel Brewhouse, 178 Shoreham Street, Sheffield, S1 4SQ
Tel: 0114 3999888