Milestone slow-cooked chicken BBQ sauce popcorn

Christmas at Milestone

I’ve been to Milestone several times now, trying out brunch, lunch and dinner with various friends over my two years in this great city. It never disappoints and their food and drinks are consistently inventive and exciting. On my last visit, which was for a tasting menu, we’d had a good night and gone home stuffed. So, when I received an invitation to try out their winter offering, I happily accepted, knowing we were in for a treat.

Now, before I get stuck into showing you what we ate and drank, let me tell you something- I haven’t missed the “the” off this blog title. No, the restaurant-formerly-known-as-The-Milestone has dropped it. That’s right, in the same year in which Jay-Z became Jay Z (why?!), Microsoft denied holding talks to rename the Bernabéu (gasp!) and someone named their baby North West (seriously), The Milestone has also made a bold moniker move by becoming, simply, Milestone. Capisce?*

So, it was a Monday night. The Other Half and I bundled up and took ourselves off down to Kelham Island. Upon arrival at Milestone, we headed over to the bar to order a drink while our table was prepped. I had a mulled pear Bellini (£6.50), which was just the ticket. It was sweet, not overly spiced, and warming, with a hint of vanilla. It looked just like a prosecco, but tasted a bit more special than that.

Mulled pear Bellini
Mulled pear Bellini; perfect end to a long day.

The Other Half’s pear essence cosmopolitan (£5) was refreshing and tasted dangerously non-alcoholic… we could easily have sunk many more of these wintery cocktails. Especially as it wasn’t served in the long-stemmed martini glass we’re used to cosmos coming in (which only ever lead to spillage after the first two, in my case).

Pear essence cosmopolitan at Milestone
Pear essence cosmopolitan at Milestone

The gastro pub was surprisingly busy for a Monday, with a mixed clientele- couples in their 20s dining with a set of their parents, groups of male work colleagues talking business with their collar buttons opened and date nighters of all ages. This is hardly surprising, seeing as Milestone was named best for fine dining at this year’s eatSheffield awards, just one in a long line of accolades since opening in 2006. The place was bustling but the atmosphere was relaxed, aided by the chilled out soundtrack which included tracks from Zero 7 and Air.

Part of Milestone’s ethos is that they don’t believe in buying in products when we can make them ourselves- this was evident in the lovely bread (£2.95) we were brought while we made our selections from the menu. The slices of homemade bread were almost as thick as the big slab of tree trunk they were served upon. Whilst others have debated whether one ought to expect to be brought bread and butter as a complimentary pre-meal nibble in restaurants, I will say this:  the bread here is worth paying for. It’s damn good.

Bread and butter.
Bread and butter at Milestone.

For my starter, I selected the slow-cooked free range chicken, barbeque sauce, caramelised Jerusalem artichoke, spiced popcorn and chicken crackling. This was a steal at £6.50 and was beautifully presented- just look at it:

Milestone slow-cooked chicken BBQ sauce popcorn
My starter: slow-cooked chicken with BBQ sauced and spiced popcorn

It looked too gorgeous to dismantle, but it was worth it when I did. The artichoke was earthy, the chicken crackling perfectly crisp and salty and the slow-cooked chicken was succulent and complemented well by the spiced popcorn and BBQ sauce. It was all good, but the star for me was that chicken skin/crackling, over which much care had been taken to achieve the texture and form.

The Other Half’s starter of pan-seared pork belly, nose to tail pig terrine, celeriac, blood pudding, sautéed king scallop and a redcurrant jus was equally as easy on the eye. Real effort had gone into this dish, not just in its presentation- from the perfect cooking of that scallop, to the carefully-formed terrine or the redcurrants which burst in your mouth. It packed a punch in the flavour department, too, with the blood pudding and the jus delivering the goods.

Pork belly, terrine, blood pudding
Pan-seared pork belly (£6.95).

By this point, I’d moved on to a glass of The Siren, a South African chenin blanc/viognier/chardonnay blend which I’d selected with some advice from Alan, who was in charge of the restaurant. It was a good recommendation and went very well indeed with my main course of pan-fried pork loin, sweet and sour cabbage, smoked bacon, buttered mashed potato and sage. The bacon in the greens was crisp and salty, just how I like it, and the pork was succulent. There was a lot of flavour packed into this and I didn’t need to season the dish at all- always a good sign.

Pork sweet and sour cabbage and bacon
My pan-fried free range pork (£16.95).

Because I was feeling greedy, I also ordered a side order of Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy (£2.50). This was actually two puddings, which arrived in- guess what?!- an enamel dish, swimming in a good amount of tasty gravy. Despite the generous gravying, they remained crispy and light, though I could only manage to eat one of them.

Milestone Yorkshire puddings
When in Yorkshire…

The Other Half’s meal was sublime, too. Hake, cooked sous vide then pan-fried to crisp up the outside, served with Jerusalem artichoke, buttered kale, lemon butter, caramelised shallot puree and fennel salt, with a side order of thyme roasted new potatoes (£3).

Sous vide and pan-fried hake.
Pan-fried hake (£14.95). Delicious.

I got to try a bit of everything and it was awesome. There wasn’t a big thyme hit on those potatoes, but no matter- there was plenty of other flavour going on. Sous vide then pan-frying is a great way to cook fish; the hake was juicy, but with a crisp little jacket on.

The portions were generous, but we decided to wedge a pudding in too. We decided we’d best share one, though, and settled on the chocolate and red wine cake (£5). Served with salted caramel and mulled fruits, this doesn’t look like a big portion, but they’ve got it right- the cake is really dense and rich.

Chocolate and red wine cake
Chocolate and red wine cake.

We were both glad we’d only ordered the one between us. Not only was this really pretty on the plate, it was filling too. The chocolate truffle on top, the layer of ganache-y icing and the berry emulsion were my favourite bits. But it was all very good. The only thing visually which let the side down a bit were the very ordinary-looking dessert spoons. I know, I know, I’m splitting hairs, but everything else was just so pretty.

Empty plate
Dessert plate after- a good sign.

Once we’d cleared the dessert plate and chatted a bit more about our meal and the people around us, it was reluctantly time to leave. We headed out into the cold night, feeling warm and fuzzy after a great night at one of our favourite Sheffield places.

The view from our table- cosy colours and lighting. Just add food.
The view from our table- cosy colours and lighting. Just add food.

This post is unapologetically good. Milestone deserves it. Sure, I was their guest this time, but I’ve been many times before and paid full whack- but there’s a reason I keep going back. The food.  The service. The ambience. It’s the perfect blend and Milestone can be whatever you want it to be (as evidenced by the varied clientele). At times for me it’s been the place for a hungover brunch, a posh dinner with friends, a quick lunch before heading for an afternoon’s shopping or a romantic date with the OH. If you’re at a loss for somewhere to go this festive season with family, friends or your significant other, I can enthusiastically recommend Milestone. It’s imaginative, local food at a great price. And there’s not a roast turkey in sight.

There’s also a fantastic cookery school there, so if there’s someone in your life who you want to get skilled up in pastry, poultry, pasta, pig or other things, they’d probably be delighted to find a Milestone cookery school gift voucher in their Christmas stocking (hint, hint, Santa).

Thanks again to Alan, Clare and the whole Milestone team for a great night.

* At the time of writing, the name change isn’t yet evident on their website or in the venue, but I’m told by their PR that it’s happening.

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