Saturday, 16 November 2013

SHWI goes to West Egg...

Anna and Laura with the Showroom chefs

Another month, another SHWI Dining Club..But not just any Dining Club! November saw a return visit to The Showroom, noted for being Sheffield's friendly independent cinema, but also has a fabulous café bar with chef Simon Ayres in charge of the eats. After the success of our bespoke Tudor themed banquet earlier in the year, we went back for a Great Gatsby themed affair.

The regular customers must have thought they'd entered a time-warp as the bar area filled up with ladies in furs, pearls and feathers, and gentlemen sporting trilbys, spatz and braces. Seriously – everyone looked amazing and I agree with someone's comment that we should probably dress like it's the 1920s all the time.

1920s girls

Once seated in the café area, we were treated to an array of beautifully crafted canapés – lobster croquettes, egg and cress sandwiches, bread and butter folds, and fungi flatbreads with quails eggs. They were all beautiful and incredibly moreish.

Next up, we were served potato and leek velouté, with a garlic toast topped with cavier. I've never drunk cold soup from a teacup before – but if it's always going to be that good, I'll happily do it again!
The fish course was a sharing platter of Caesar salad - seared, rare tuna steak, fresh anchovies, shavings of Parmesan, crisp little gem lettuce, chunky croutons and a tasty, tangy dressing. On the side we were treated to a shrimp cocktail – with proper little brown shrimps in a piquant pink sauce. Non-meat eaters could have a green, fresh carpaccio of kohlrabi, with a wasabi aoli and plenty of sweet broad beans.

So far – soooooo good!

As I sat there with a glass of Pinot Grigio, looking at everyone enjoying themselves, I was suddenly interrupted by my Dining Club partner Anna Pilson – who, whilst being pescetarian herself, was so excited (on my behalf) at the sight of the meat course coming out, had come to tell me to prepare myself. It's always good to get a warning on a meat feast – it gives me chance to get the camera out. And what a sight is was - a steaming mound of hot, Bourbon pork shoulder, with crispy roast potatoes, carrots and romanesco broccoli, and gravy. Oh, the gravy... At the Tudor Banquet, I may have drunk a small jug of gravy to myself. I'm a Northern lass. I love gravy. This time round, it being a more classy affair, I drank the gravy from a wine glass. (As you can imagine, I was a little thirsty later in the evening, but I don't regret a drop of it.)

The vegetarian option of braised globe artichoke, roast garlic and spelt risotto with veg friendly Parmesan seemed to go down okay – but I would have covered it in gravy.
By this time, I was getting a little full. But the food was coming out at a nice leisurely pace, which allowed a little breathing space before the dessert trolley was rolled out.

I was expecting mini bite-sized versions of desserts – but no. It was massive, actual portions in amounts we were never going to be able to finish. With this in mind, I saw no problem in having three different desserts. I asked the chef, Simon, which he would go for - raspberry meringue roulade was the answer, with a cheeky chocolatey brandy snap (cream filled of course) on the side. A jokey comment of 'if there's any chocolate cake left over, I'll take some off your hands' was met with the offering of a slice of delicious ganache covered cake.

I think some tea and coffee may have been offered around at the end of the evening – but by then I was in the middle of a gravy overdose and was trying to look gracious as everyone thanked me for organising the event.




So, I would like to thank everyone for coming. I want to thank everybody for getting into the spirit of the evening and getting glammed up. I want to thank the new faces and prospective SHWI members for coming along and being so friendly. I want to thank The Showroom for being so accommodating (again). I want to thank Anna P for doing the boring bit of Dining Club – the spreadsheets and the banking. And I want to thank anybody who has come to a SHWI Dining Club meal. We've been doing this for over a year now, and genuinely believed it would be seven girls sat around a table in various Sheffield eateries. So to have 40 people turn up looking like the cast of Chicago last night was tremendous fun. Here's to another year of local food fun!

Laura Bainbridge
SHWI Committee and Dining Club

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