Rafter’s, an ambitious restaurant in Sheffield


When you see a tasting menu in a restaurant, I get the impression of an ambitious brigade in the kitchen, keen to showcase their wares

Emma and I wanted to her brother and his wife’s significant birthdays up in Sheffield and I was dispatched to research the local food scene. I was heartened to find a bustling independent restaurant scene and on another trip, I’ll be heading down places like London Road for a look at the restaurant menus

I found Rafter’s located on the same side of town as us and an interesting looking menu. A quick check with the in laws that they liked the look of the menu and a call to the restaurant to check they could adjust the tasting menu for gluten-free guests and the reservation was made

There was a lot of off street parking on the Saturday evening that we visited. A little trot up the stairs and we were in the comfortable, warm dining room

We had pre-ordered the tasting menu in order to help accommodate our gluten-free guests and it turned out to be a great choice. There’s also an a la carte menu available but you get ‘savoury snacks’, ‘Rafter’s signature bread box’ and pre-dessert in both menus

Our meal kicked off with ‘chef’s aperitif’, which turned out to be little cubes flavoured with gin & tonic. A promising inventive start

Then, a pair of savoury snacks arrived in quick succession. Firstly a tapioca cracker topped with fresh seafood and yoghurt. Then, deep-fried quail’s eggs followed, the gluten-free version coming with no crispy coating. I’m training Emma to become a Malaysian level haggler and she’s learning fast – she managed to get a extra round of tapioca crackers for our table by saying we loved them

The bread box came with cultured butter, which had a pleasant, slightly acidic tang

Slightly unusual to get a cheese dish next but its savoury nature justifies its position as a starter. Whipped stilton had a light, airy texture and came with shaved pear, walnuts and celery

Next up, the John Dory had sweeter partners in parsnip, apple and an umami-laden miso sauce. Nicely balanced

A classy slab of turbot tasted of the sea with samphire and razor clams and lifted with oyster sauce

The next dish was my favourite – a perfectly made lobster ravioli served with langoustine, monks beard and toasted pine nuts. Our gluten-free guests got guinea fowl as a substitute

Our main meat course was a duo of pork, caramelised cabbage and celeriac. It reminded me why I love the sweetness of pork so much

I’m a cheese addict and couldn’t resist the optional cheese course. We shared 2 portions between 4 of us

There were 3 desserts though I forgot to take a couple of photos. A palate-cleansing pre dessert followed by rhubarb and custard. Then my favourite – iced bannoffee parfait, peanut butter and bitter chocolate

Tea and coffee were extra though they came with petit fours

You can feel the ambition at Rafters. The food is getting there. Good flavour combinations though a couple of dishes could have done with just an extra zing to elevate it. Service was friendly but needed a little polish when announcing dishes

Recommended for special occasion dining in Sheffield

Rafters Restaurant
220 Oakbrook Road, Sheffield S11 7ED

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