Eating Out: Food adding to appeal of popular bar
A popular neighbourhood bar in Meersbrook has added to its buzz with a new eating area that's been busy in its opening weeks.
The Tramshed Kitchen is open Tuesday to Saturday, offering a short menu of Asian-influenced dishes.
Head chef and kitchen manager Rebecca Roberts said she had worked with Matt Holdsworth, who had the Bhaji Shop on the same premises before, at the current Bhaji Shop and at The Old Workshop bar, both in the Kelham Island-Neepsend area.
Matt owns the building on Chesterfield Road that houses the Tramshed bar and collaborates with Tom Harrington, of The Beer Engine, both there and at The Old Workshop.
Rebecca said Matt knew of her love for uncomplicated food with big flavours and asked her to take over when the Tramshed Kitchen opened.
The same space has been home to several eating places, including The Bohemian, the Bhaji Shop and most recently Wah’s Wah’s Mexican diner.
Rebecca decided to follow her passion for Asian flavours in developing the menu. She said: “I tried lots of recipes, testing them at 3am in the kitchen and going a little bit crazy!
“I was going to the Chinese supermarket and just experimenting and came up with the menu.
“I tried to make it simple and focus on the taste, as opposed to the presentation. My food is more about the flavour and how it tastes. That is playing to my strengths.”
Rebecca, who is from Whiston in Rotherham, said she wants to produce fresh-tasting food.
“Everything I can I do from scratch, which is what I put across to my kids.”
She’s also keen to avoid kitchen waste, using bones to make stocks and broths and says the meat she uses is high welfare.
The current menu will be in place for three months and then she will bring in a new summer menu featuring more salads.
She also posts out pictures on social media on Saturdays of a special dish of the day, trying out fresh and new ideas based on what ingredients are available.
One obsession has been developing her own recipe for kimchi, the Korean salted and fermented vegetable dish.
Rebecca was thrilled when someone who’d learned to make it while living in Vietnam asked what her secret was, saying hers was the best she’d tasted.
I tried the kimchi as a side dish when I visited and it’s worth the fermentation time in a glass jar of at least a week and a half. That really brought out the taste of the Chinese leaves, carrots and other vegetables without being too sharp and vinegary.
They serve two versions, one for vegetarians made without the traditional fish sauce.
Inside, the kitchen half of the venue has the same laid-back, friendly and slightly quirky atmosphere as The Tramshed next door, whose decor favours gleaming wood and nostalgic trinkets.
Order from the bar’s good range of bottled beers and wines to enjoy with your meal and we had a very nice bottle of Rioja (£16).
The main menu is basically three choices with different options.
I went for the Bento box, which has little compartments filled with a broth, rice, salads and pickle and one of a choice of three meat or vegetarian variation.
My dining companion Matthew tried the hearty bowl of broth and thick udon noodles that also has a choice of one of three toppings.
My beautiful enamelled wood Bento box (a type of Japanese lunch container) was packed with little treasures, from the little tin cup of lightly-spiced broth to the wonderfully tasty Thai-style kafir rice and the zingy pickles and fresh and interesting salads.
My choice, miso-glazed chicken, was good, the meat tender and the glaze sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Otherwise, I could have gone for Korean beef or marinated tofu.
Matthew enjoyed his broth, once he’d decided how to tackle those pesky noodles, and either knife, fork and spoon or chopsticks are available on your table, as well as bottled tap water.
The mildly spicy comfort food feel of the dish was added to by a soft-boiled egg on top and his choice of braised ox cheek. I had a taste and it was delicious, absolutely falling apart from long cooking.
His other possible options were kimchi and marinated tofu or miso-glazed king prawns.
The other main course offering is bahn mi, a Vietnamese dish which is an open hot baguette with different toppings that doesn’t really say Friday night dinner to me.
We also shared two out of the three puddings, the banana bread with miso caramel and the matcha and coconut almond cake.
They were pleasant rather than outstanding and too similar tasting if you’re sharing. The big difference was the slightly grittier texture of the tea-infused coconut cake.
I wished I’d gone for the brownie with miso butterscotch but wanted to try something less familiar.
We were very well looked after by the friendly and efficient Ruby, who lives up to her name as a bit of a gem.
Our food bill came to a reasonable £29. You can only pay cash in the kitchen but can use the cashback facilities at the bar to pay by card.