Dining Out: The Cricket Inn, Totley
- Credit: Archant
A destination for drinkers and diners alike, this refurbished inn occupies a charming spot on the outskirts of Sheffield
SLIGHTLY OFF the beaten track at the foot of a winding lane, the Cricket Inn’s ‘hideaway’ location on the southernmost edge of the Peak District, near the leafy suburb of Totley, gives no clue to the fact you’re seven miles from the cente of Sheffield, but its peaceful location encompasses everything that is great about a quintessentially English country pub.
Unsurprisingly, the inn is situated next to the local cricket pitch – so close that the large beer garden opens straight on to the pitch – and inside it has all the touches of a ‘proper’ pub with rustic wooden furniture, exposed floorboards, open fires and a cosy bar serving local ales.
In keeping with the friendly and informal atmosphere, dogs and muddy boots are welcome and – as the Peak District is a mere stone’s throw away – it’s the sort of place where smartly-dressed couples don’t look out of place next to a group of intrepid walkers and their four-legged friends.
For the past decade the Cricket Inn has been under the ownership of the award-winning Thornbridge Brewery, together with Sheffield chef Richard Smith and his restaurateur wife Victoria.
Fittingly, there’s a fantastic selection of Thornbridge Ales and specialist beers but it’s the food that really puts this pub on the map, with rustic, seasonal dishes served alongside a surprisingly good choice of fresh seafood.
Pub snacks include pots of cockles; deep-fried whitebait; chips with rosemary sea salt; half a pint of shell-on king prawns; and a platter of crackling, black pudding, chipolatas, chorizo and glazed ham. There’s also sharing boards including ploughman’s and seafood varieties, plus ten starters such as baked crab gratin, chicken chowder, house pâté and oak-smoked salmon with capers and shallots. Regularly-changing blackboards showcase seasonal dishes, whilst the main course menu includes Thornbridge Ale pot pie, steak burger, traditional fish and chips, rotisserie chicken, pan-fried calves liver and sole.
I began with Lincolnshire poacher cheese on toast (£6). A twist on the traditional classic, it comprised two slices of crispy toast topped with melted cheese, sticky red onion jam, watercress, grain mustard dressing and crispy bacon (an extra £2).
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My partner thoroughly enjoyed his portion of homemade black pudding (£6.50), topped with a just-right soft-poached egg, crushed garden peas, smoked bacon and a tasty English mustard velouté.
He turned to the specials board for his main course – a fantastic mixed seafood spaghetti (£18) – punctuated by fresh mussels, prawns and crab meat, tied together with a light parsley butter sauce.
But my honey and rosemary glazed lamb shank (£17) was the dish of the night. The meat was so tender it fell from the bone, and the hearty serving was enlivened by bubble and squeak mashed potato, root vegetables and braised pearl barley, bound together with a rich lamb gravy.
After two faultless courses we couldn’t resist dessert and the menu – boasting gems such as baked marmalade pudding and Willy Wonka chocolate pots – left us so spoilt for choice that despite being sated we had to have one each!
My light-as-a-feather brown sugar meringues (£6) were served with little pots of condensed milk rice pudding, blow-torched strawberries and strawberry ice cream, whilst across the table my partner enjoyed tangy passion fruit crème brûlée with lime sorbet and coconut biscuits (£6).
Service was some of the friendliest I’ve ever received in a pub and special mention must be given to the staff who make sure all guests – whether diners or drinkers with dogs – are satisfied. Everyone is made to feel welcome at the Cricket Inn. The Cricket Inn, Penny Lane, Totley, Sheffield S17 3AZ Tel: 0114 236 5256, www.cricketinn.co.uk