EATING OUT: Is this the best seafood in Sheffield?

Scallop and salmon platter at JH Mann Fishmongers
Scallop and salmon platter at JH Mann Fishmongers

Take a walk along Sharrow Vale Road and you may notice something fishy going on.

J H Mann fishmongers has been serving Hunters Bar and the surrounding area for a number of years now but in recent months they have branched out into a new area - hot food.

Christian Szurko and Scott Mills, of JH Mann Fishmongers

Christian Szurko and Scott Mills, of JH Mann Fishmongers

Owner Christian Szurko explains: “For the last eight months we’ve been doing hot lunches.

“We have always done cold dishes so we decided to start doing hot dishes as well.

“The whole point is people coming in to try things they probably wouldn’t try in a restaurant.

“We charge shop prices not restaurant prices so it is a good way for people to try new things.”

Christian Szurko

Christian Szurko

J H Mann has a long and proud history in Sheffield - stretching back nearly 100 years.

Christian took the Hillsborough-based business on 13 years ago and three years later opened the Sharrow Vale Road branch.

The idea to start serving up hot food between the hours of 11am and 3pm appears to have been a shrewd move with the number of lunchtime visitors growing, largely thanks to word of mouth.

“We have people come from all over - as far away as London - and we also have a growing loyal customer base.

JH Mann Fishmongers

JH Mann Fishmongers

“Our Instagram page is proving popular and helping to spread the word about what we do. It’s doing a lot of business for us. It is no-frills food.”

If you are visiting J H Mann for lunch for the first time the first thing you will notice is that there is no menu. That’s not how it works.

Instead, you take a pick from whatever fresh fish and shellfish they happen to have in, choose a pre-prepared garnish from the fridge (they make up batches a couple of times a week) and they will whizz you something up. Simple.

It is a style of dining that is proving to be a unique selling point for this particular fishmongers.

The fishmongers is located on Sharrow Vale Road

The fishmongers is located on Sharrow Vale Road

“There is nowhere else in Sheffield that does this.,” explains Christian.

“We are able to talk to customers about what they are eating and it is all about the quality of the produce.

“We are a little bit more expensive than some other fishmongers but that is because we go after the best quality in the market.

“That’s particularly important because we do a lot of work with the restaurant trade.

“There’s no menu you can eat what you want, what you can see in front of you.

“I think people love that aspect of it and the majority of customers are happy for us to cook them what we suggest.”

As well as cooking up whatever fresh fish you fancy to order, Christian also serves up fresh oysters.

“We also do loads of oysters and it’s a good way to try oysters for the first time.

“A lot of places overcharge for oysters which I think puts people off.

“When you are talking £2.50 or £3 per oyster it is too much, especially when you have to buy at least half a dozen or a dozen.

“Our oysters are £1 each and you can have as much or as little as you want.”

Just a few months on from starting to serve up hot food, Christian promises there is plenty more to come.

“We are happy with the way things are going and would really like to grow the food side of things.

“People love seeing the food being prepared in front of them - from the counter to the plate.”

Whenever I have seen a celebrity chef on TV walking into a fish market in say, Spain, point at some produce and have it cooked for them there and then I have always found it a very appealing concept.

So when I heard you can now do this in Sheffield there was no stopping me.

The lack of an actual menu takes a little bit of getting used to but I was happy to bow to Christian’s advice on what to have.

Once I’d admitted I was a fan of stronger-flavoured fish he suggested I could have some mackerel on a bed of coconut dal. Fine by me.

He picked up a whole mackerel off the counter before expertly filleting it and then pan frying the fillets.

Minutes later I had a plate of loveliness sitting in front of me and it must be said that it was top notch.

The freshness of the mackerell - which was perfectly cooked - really shone through. A nice crispiness to the skin with succulent, moist and flavoursome flesh.

I would even go as far to say it was the best mackerel I have ever tasted.

The sweet, spiciness of the dal really helped to cut through the saltiness of the fish.

My other half on the other hand went for the salmon fishcakes served with chickpeas.

There were two fishcakes on her plate and both were of a very decent size. A generous lunchtime portion.

Not a scrap was left on either of our plates which tells a story in itself.

In total our two lunches came in at £20 which is decent value for fresh seafood of this kind.

I dare say you’d have to pay significantly more in a restaurant for dishes such as these.

My trip to JH Mann was new experience for me but one which I found delightful and satisfying in equal measure.

JH Mann, 261 Sharrow Vale Road. Tel: 0114 268 2225.