REVIEW: Branch out from beer at the Devonshire Cat

Head Chef Peter Lightfoot with food
Head Chef Peter Lightfoot with food

With 140 beers and a great reputation for real ale it’s no surprise that people might take a little time to think of the Devonshire Cat as a place to eat.

But they - and until last Friday, I was included in that - are wrong to overlook thewatering hole’s food offer.

A platter for sharing

A platter for sharing

The pub, which has been open for almost 15 years, was taken over by Abbeydale Brewery last year, had a mini revamp and has just launched a new menu with more choice, the best excuse to give it a try.

It sticks mainly to homely favourites, think hearty pies, barbecue ribs, bangers and mash or steaks of all kinds, with the odd curveball mixed in for good measure.

Beer-lovers can continue their quest for the perfect drink even with the food - with a splash of booze in some starters and the specials coming with recommended tipples.

“I try and keep it traditional because I think that is never going to change, everyone likes a traditional pub meal”, said head chef Peter Lightfoot, who has been in post for three years.

The Devonshire Cat on Wellington Street

The Devonshire Cat on Wellington Street

“I think there is always the place for a traditional pie - its pies, it’s fish and chips.

“Having said that we are doing things like the rib feast and Tapas Tuesdays are the most popular at the moment.

“There we do dishes like sauteed lamb kidneys, we don’t do brushetta and olives, there are lots of places doing that. We started doing it for two weeks and now are thinking of having it for the whole summer.

“We get that somtimes, people saying that they haven’t thought of eating here.

The Devonshire Cat, Wellington Street, Sheffield.

The Devonshire Cat, Wellington Street, Sheffield.

“There’s a lot of competition in town and we are just off the beaten track so we have to work a little bit harder.”

They say the proof is in the pudding and that shows at the Cat.

Service was friendly and rapid while the bill was the cheapest meal out we’ve had for a while.

There’s only three main meals that go over a tenner, which is keen pricing.

Peter, formerly of the Three Merry Lads in Lodge Moor, said: “We’ve got to keep to our competition and as a traditional pub the competiton is places like Wetherspoon.”

It almost goes without saying, but I’ll do it anyway: The Devonshire Cat is a hundred times better than any Wetherspoon venue.

Back to the menu - which is served with a splash of wit.

The root vegetable salad is hailed as ‘a helping hand towards that holiday body’ while a Cajun king prawn salad is ‘the taste of the deep...South Yorkshire.’

There was no way we could stick to lettuce when proper food was on offer though.

‘Isn’t cheese just lovely?”, asked the description of beer battered brie wedges.

And they were.

Three fat wedges arrived in a bowl with side salad.

The batter was crisp and had just a hint of delectable Deception ale in its depths, inside the melted brie was gooey goodness.

I wasn’t a fan at first of the accompanying sauce, a tangy mango coulis, and thought it was something you’d expect to find on a yoghurt instead but it did grow on me and cut through the creamy interior.

His boneless chicken wings came with ‘brave man’s barbecue sauce’, a home-made concoction made with tamarind, dates and mango puree.

It was rich, smokey and caught in the throat, a wise choice for the tender chicken in a light batter, minus the beer.

It was at this point we realised it might not have been our cleverest idea to sit on the pub’s one outdoor table to watch the world go by, as hordes of smokers started coming out to surround it, some even leaning across us to put out their cigarettes.

On sweltering days the Cat usually opens its windows, which is likely to be a much better option.

For mains we’d stuck with the daily specials board.

Slow roast pork belly was absolute heaven.

The meat was crowned with stick-in-your teeth crackling, dark and delightfully naughty, while underneath was moist meat that broke apart at the merest touch.

It came with a fine mustard seed speckled mash, seasonal greens and a sweet cider jus which hinted at lavender and butter.

The recommended drink to go with it is a Budweiser Budvar, and as staff have recently been on a food and beer matching course, I’d take the advice.

My Thatchers cider was too sweet with an already sweet dish.

On his side was the seafood stuffed cannelloni, and you could smell the freshly grated garlic from atop the bread immediately.

It was a generous size and contained flaked cod, prawns and possibly mackerel without being overpoweringly fishy.

There was plenty of béchamel sauce and cheese with it too.

We were talked into dessert by the lovely waiter, and delved back into the booze cupboard with a chocolate bourbon brownie.

It was a dense, rich slab of chocolate served alongside vanilla ice cream from Our Cow Molly - one of only two items not made fresh in the kitchen.

We may have neglected the Devonshire Cat for food in the past, but at £40.85 for three courses and a drink apiece the same mistake won’t be made again.

Devonshire Cat, 49 Wellington St, Sheffield city centre

0114 279 6700