Yorkshire Life Luncheon - Whirlowbrook Hall, Sheffield
- Credit: J E Photography
Whirlowbrook Hall in Sheffield was the venue for ‘Best of British’ dining at the Yorkshire Life Luncheon
Whatever your Brexit tendencies, it's good to know that when it comes to British food there's usually little debate about how well we do it.
Growers, producers, suppliers all take pride in their produce and the kitchen team at Whirlowbrook Hall in Sheffield were out to celebrate the fact with their own Best of British menu for the Yorkshire Life Luncheon.
Whirlowbook Hall is a stunning event venue in the heart of the leafy Ecclesall Road South area of the city.
The characterful destination lies in dazzling grounds which shine all year long and leaves were just being tickled with shades of yellow and orange when we dined mid-September.
Blue skies and sunshine created temperatures to belie the calendar so the fresh, light flavours of our lunch were the perfect way to celebrate the last of the summer's finest days and it was perfect to be able to enjoy a glass of English sparkling fizz from the masters at Chapel Down on the hall's terrace overlooking the manicured gardens.
Whirlowbrook Hall is packed with history and charm. The building dates from 1906 when it was originally a family manor house built by Percy Fawcett. In 1920, the house became home to Sir Walter Benton-Jones, a leading industrialist in the city. It was only in 1951 that the grounds became open to the public, and the hall is now renowned as one of Sheffield's premier event and wedding venues.
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Event coordinators ensure everything runs smoothly for an unforgettable celebration. The layout of the building means there are a range of individually styled function rooms catering for every occasion, from weddings to business lunches, christenings to charity dinners.
For a smaller gathering there's the traditional Oak Room or the quiet and serenity of the Willow Room.
The Garden Room, with its stunning views and terrace is a perfect venue for a larger party, was the setting for our Best of British lunch.
The spectacular food was a good example of the ability of the kitchen team to create unique themed menus to suit all occasions and palates.
Whirlowbrook Hall holds regular events and lunches throughout the year and in November will host its first ever vegan tasting menu.
Menus are devised by talented young chef Alex Fretwell who loves the challenge of taking the best of seasonal ingredients to create exciting menus with innovative twists.
For our starter, mackerel was cured in Sheffield gin to create a punchy flavour that worked well with the zingy tastes of fennel, radish and watercress. The dish looked a picture, well presented on dark plates that made the ingredients pop. The wine choice of Chapel Down Baccus was ideal with its fresh garden notes of elderflower.
The main course of mallard duck breast looked amazing - duck, cooked pink with crispy skin and cleverly accompanied by cubes of mini fondant potatoes - the twist being these were heritage purple potatoes. Accompaniments of a flash of bright pumpkin puree, carrot and chicory added a flourish of colour. Alex proved he has a deft hand when it comes to combinations. The lightness of a plum jus was delivered with an effective 'less is more' approach.
The wine chosen with this was a Spanish Garnacha - its makers are Scottish! A wine rich with soft berryish flavours.
Dessert raised a smile - a Bakewell tart with a Whirlowbrook twist. This version almost mousse-y in texture and all the more delicious for it. Indulgent and delicious, especially with clotted cream and raspberries alongside - and perfectly complemented by the beautiful English Hush Heath rose from Kent with its summer fruits flavours.
Young Alex and his team are excellent at what they do in the kitchen and this historic venue is certainly one to watch. There are plenty of exciting things going on the rest of the year to try for yourself.
Whirlowbrook Hall, Ecclesall Road South, Sheffield