REVIEW: A reel fresh take in new Showroom menu

food review, The Showroom, head chef Jon Tite
food review, The Showroom, head chef Jon Tite

Smoked tofu and kale stew sounds like the kind of dish super-healthy Gwynneth Paltrow might eat at a Los Angeles hotspot.

So it is testatment to how far The Showroom has come to see dishes of that ilk on its new spring menus.

Food review, The Showroom,

Food review, The Showroom,

These have been carefully crafted by the independent cinema, café and bar’s new head chef - Jon Tite.

He learned under the wing of Simon Ayres, who famously led The Milestone team to glory for a Gordon Ramsay show and has now moved on to pastures new at The Cross Scythes hotel in Totley after raising The Showroom’s game.

There are no prizes for guessing Jon is a vegetarian - with four meat-free mains on offer just during dinner, plus gluten free, and vegan choices, and that’s without checking the specials.

Dishes have creative flair - think tempura and rostis, sweet potato pie and soya burgers rather than the usual token quiche.

Food review, The Showroom, spring onion rosh, tempura purple brocoli and miso glaze

Food review, The Showroom, spring onion rosh, tempura purple brocoli and miso glaze

It’s unusual that there is an equal selection for carnivores and fish fans too.

“I’ve been cooking meat and fish all through my chef career”, said Jon.

“We’re not making a really big deal of the vegetarian angle, but we are trying to offer an alternative to what you might find at a lot of places.

“Here we wanted to think outside the box.”

Jon only took over the reins on February 20 but is keen to put his own stamp on things and build on past momentum.

There’s also an almost entirely new team in place - one chef followed Simon and other has headed to Australia.

Jon, who formerly cooked in Ibiza and Leeds, said: “The new menu was just to change it up a little bit and try a different take on the food offer in Sheffield.

“Without wanting to sound too big-headed about it, a lot of places now go for one theme like barbecue or east coast American so we could have gone down that route but I thought no, I like cooking everything.

“Everyone sat down and we discussed our favourite foods that we like to eat when we go out so everyone had a say in the menu and is passionate about it.”

Everything served in the restaurant - from breads to ice cream - is made in-house, apart from the mayonnaise.

‘But we’re looking into that’, added Jon.

There’s no table service at The Showroom, although that may change in future, which means ordering at the bar and that nobody had noticed there was one menu between two to peruse. We ended up stealing one from the next table.

That aside, recommendations were given gladly and it’s a pleasant, bright spot to watch the world go by through the full-wall length mirrors, with colourful flowers and bottles of Henderson’s relish as decor.

A brief effort was made to stick to the vegetarian theme, but it didn’t take much to tempt us away (just the friendly barman saying the fish was excellent, really.)

There were several tables for one dining out. The speed of service makes it a quick after-work dinner choice - we were served three courses in just over an hour.

First up was my pan-fried prawns, four plump specimens with the tails still on, which may be a little too little for some.

They were well cooked and succulent.

A peanut sauce was literally as described - no gloopy sweet satay here but peanuts ground together with a splash of bisque.

It tasted fresh, healthy, and completely guilt free , as did the billowy home-made bread.

It needed butter though, which had to be asked for.

He was in raptures over the three pepper cured pork loin, three slices of the thoroughly marinated meat atop pickled carrot and radishes.

Again, everything was as though it had been plucked and pickled from the garden that very morning, with a slight al-dente snap left in the vegetables.

A pescetarian would have been proud of my pan-fried dorade main, or sea bream outside Spain .

It was impressive to look at and exciting to taste with a wide range of textures.

Crispy skin gave way to succulent flakes of flesh.

Crunch came from flaked almonds scattered on top, a salsa romesco provided a creamy consistency and a Meditteranean twist came from saffron-doused cubes of potato.

The latter were tiny but divine and the whole dish was brought together with copious amounts of caper butter - one of the finest fish dishes I’ve tasted.

Across the table a main of Barnsley chop of lamb was going down just as well - although not as quickly given its gargantuan size.

He’d swapped polenta chips for mustard mash, which had more of the condiment’s colour than the taste but was fine and flecked with chives.

The meat was cooked to a T and moistened with an intense meaty jus, plus sweet roast onion puree.

He didn’t really need the chocolate opera cake, a decadent creation of mousse, cream and chocolate, afterwards. Stewed rhubarb turned out to be the just-tart-enough fruit topped with fine hazlenuts and pistachio ice cream - a crumble but not as you’d normally know it.

We paid £51 including soft drinks.

The Showroom, Paternoster Row, city centre, S1 2BX

Call 0114 249 5479