Have you heard the one about the fine dining restaurant in a students’ union building?
Inox Dine, one of the newest additions to the Sheffield restaurant scene, is tucked inside the University of Sheffield’s Students’ Union. And, I must say, it’s really rather nice.
As an alumna of the University, I had hitherto only associated meals in this location with potato wedges in the Interval bar, a pasty on the go, or a quick and dirty burger in Bar One- always accompanied, as most meals in my student days were, by a lurid-coloured alcoholic beverage. So, when a friend invited me to join her for lunch at Inox Dine, I was really intrigued to see what was on offer for grown ups back at my old playground.
The Students’ Union building is fresh from a £20m refurb project and I cannot believe how different it looks from ye olden days. Sheffield’s current students are spoiled with this amazing facility, including a wide variety of catering options, plenty of spaces for socialising or studying and a really good shop. Inox Dine is just the icing on the cake.
Open to everyone in the city- not just students or staff at the University- Inox Dine is a 100-cover restaurant which is open from 8am-8:30pm Monday-Friday, and at weekends by special arrangement or for special events (this coming Sunday, 3 November, for example, they’re hosting one of their Sunday Sessions, featuring live music at lunchtime). The name comes from metallurgy, where “Inox” is the name for stainless steel, first created 100 years ago this year right here in Sheffield.
Working with a range of local favourite suppliers, such as Our Cow Molly and Moss Valley Fine Meats, as well as sourcing their own honey from hives on the Ranmoor Village roof, Inox Dine are really working hard to showcase all that’s great about keeping it local and the great produce that Yorkshire has to offer. Their head chef, Joe Berry, is Sheffield-born; you may previously have sampled his wares at the lovely Losehill House Hotel & Spa. At Inox Dine, Joe’s come up with a menu to suit a variety of budgets and palates.
Meanwhile, restaurant and hospitality manager David Smith (formerly head of catering at Sheffield Wednesday FC) has honed a well-run team of waiting staff. The service at our lunch was seamless, from the warm welcome we received upon arrival to the moment we paid the bill- the Inox Dine team on shift during our visit all seemed to genuinely enjoy their jobs and were professional service staff in the best sense of the words.
Though the restaurant was not very busy during our lunch, the atmosphere was still pleasant and you could easily forget that you were in the Students’ Union building; Inox has been designed with a grown-up clientele in mind, from the sleek armchairs to the custom Inox Dine steak knives (Made in Sheffield, of course). There are also great views of the city to be had from the fifth-floor location.
And what of the food? Well, we shared the Inox Bread and Batter to start, at £1.95 a head. This featured a dark rye and black treacle roll, a crisp white poolish roll and a Yorkshire pudding with Henderson’s Relish and onion. And some lovely, salted proper butter.
For me, the rye and treacle was a little too strong, but the Yorkshire pudding was perfect- crisp, light and those Hendo’s onions were delicious. And you can’t beat proper butter- what an indulgence. Especially midweek.
Rather unadventurously, we then both had the same main, the roast beef tartine. An open sandwich served with a choice of baby potato salad or French fries, the tartines are only served from 11:30am-2:30pm. At £7.50 each, they are an affordable and tasty lunch option. The roast beef, which was perfectly rare, was concealing a delicious bed of celeriac remoulade, all served atop a long slab of freshly-baked baguette.
The French fries could have done with a minute longer in the fryer to suit my tastes- but the beef was really the main event here, and it was spot on.
A diner at a neighbouring table had the barbecued chicken salad delivered and it looked so appealling that I am already pretty sure I’ll have it on my next visit to Inox Dine. The menu promises Ras el Hanout chicken, cumin, roast aubergine, pepper, cucumber, pomegranate and rocket served with a yoghurt and mint dressing… my mouth is watering here.
Sadly, I was too pushed for time to stay on for a pudding, which is a real shame as the selection looks imaginative and seriously appealing to my tummy. Next time!
Because I was partway through a demanding day at the office, I stuck to Diet Coke. The extensive wine list deserves my attention next time though, with wines ranging from £4.20 a glass to £55 for the most expensive bottle (excl. champagne, which tops out at £60 for the most expensive bottle). I definitely want to try the Chapel Down English sparkling wine at some point.
Inox Dine is a really surprising place, in the best possible way. I admit, its location had me cynical, but the menu, service and environment are all so well thought-through and executed that I quickly forgot we were in the students’ union building, home of many a drunken night out or a deep-fried-carb meal in my past. I felt like I had grown up and graduated to the fifth floor, where fully-fledged adults eat proper meals using custom-made cutlery- but it was lovely to walk out of the building through all the students, belly contentedly full, reminiscing about my younger days and seeing so many young people excited to be in Sheffield, my favourite city on Earth.
I want to return to Inox Dine, not only for the desserts and wine, but to try out their range of afternoon teas with my girlfriends. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on Inox Dine if you’ve been- leave me a comment below or Tweet me at @girleatssheff.