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Head Chef Leslie Buddington and owner Jane Purdy at The Curators House Restaurant in Sheffields Botanical gardens
Head Chef Leslie Buddington and owner Jane Purdy at The Curators House Restaurant in Sheffields Botanical gardens

It’s always good when a local favourite makes a comeback, like the new bistro nights at the Curator’s House at Sheffield Botanical Gardens.

Owner Jane Purdy, who changed career from accountancy two and a half years ago, decided that a monthly bistro evening added up.

The main business of this lovely house, next to the grand entrance to the gardens on Clarkehouse Road, is breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.

Jane said: “The bistro nights are relatively new and we hold them once a month on the middle Saturday of the month. The next ones are on December 14 and January 18.

“The food is modern British and European, although we sometimes do theme nights. We try to have quite a relaxed atmosphere and people tend to come back time and time again.”

She will increase the evenings, based on demand, but won’t return to nightly service.

Much of the bistro’s success of the evenings is down to head chef Leslie Buddington. A Sheffielder, he used to run the kitchens at Platillo’s. He’s also worked in London and New Zealand.

The bistro menu offers three choices of three courses plus coffee for £24.95 a head.

The place was pleasantly busy and the attentive waiting staff took us to a table in the conservatory.

The Curator’s House is fully licensed and my workmate Kim and I tried a fresh, fruity Sauvignon Blanc for £15.25; prices start at about £13.

They won points for offering still, sparkling or tap water.

The kitchen offered a complimentary espresso cup of artichoke soup, with a choice of good home-made bread including brown and olive.

The soup was lovely, creamy and velvety, and almost upstaged the starters.

Kim’s was a ravioli of king prawns with a shellfish bisque. She said it was very good, tasting intensely fishy.

I ordered the twice baked goats cheese soufflé with beetroot carpaccio. The souffle was lovely and the carpaccio was thinly sliced golden and purple beetroot. I might have preferred a beetroot chutney for moisture

The third option was game terrine with spiced quince chutney and beer bread.

Kim’s main course was confit pork belly with a seared scallop, celeriac puree, spiced pumpkin seeds and Madeira jus. I tried the fantastic pork, a neat rectangle of meat with the crunchiest crackling ever on top. The scallop was mouthwateringly tender

Not that I felt short-changed: my colourful pan-fried smoked haddock with baby vegetables and curried mussels was excellent.

The smoky fish was offset beautifully by the intense sweetness of the carrots, turnip and fennel and the buttery, curry-infused mussel sauce was really good.

The other option was pumpkin and cumin risotto.

I went retro for pudding, trying Black Forest arctic roll with a chocolate mousse.

The mousse was lovely and the ice cream centre of the roll with a few whole cherries in was lovely and the little pile of intense marinaded black cherries on the side were great. The chocolate sponge around the roll was disappointingly dry, though.

Kim enjoyed a sticky toffee pudding with sublime home-made ginger ice cream.Fresh ginger burst in the mouth but wasn’t overpowering.

Third option was Yorkshire cheese with quince jelly.

We endedwith good Americano coffee and chocolates.

A millionaire’s shortbread style one was lovely but defeated me with its richness.

Great food, good service and lovely surroundings. No wonder people come back.

Curator’s House, Clarkehouse Road. Tel 0114 263 1275.