The Bottom LineFormerly a pub, the Wig&Pen in Sheffield's historic Paradise Square, is a cross between a gastropub and restaurant. Its warren of tiny, dark, panelled rooms in a Georgian House gives dining an intimate feel. Dishes are accomplished versions of traditional Northern English fare and, unlike trendy places that reinterpret with a lighter touch, these are served with trencherman abundance.
The Wig&Pen Essentials
- Address:Paradise Square, The Cathedral Quarter, Sheffield, S1 2DE
- Telephone:+44 (0)114 276 3988. Dinner reservations advised.
- Price Range: Dinner about £20-£30 for two courses, coffee and wine or beer. There are also early bird menus, a tapas menu and bar lunches.
- Bargain Deal: The two-course, fixed-price, early bird menu, served 6 to 7:30 Monday through Saturday, costs only £10.
- Opening Hours:Monday-Thursday 11a.m. to 11p.m., Friday-Saturday 11a.m. to midnight. Private hire on Sundays.
- Visit their website
A Taste of Paradise?Sheffield's 18th century Paradise Square, lined with dark brick terraces, is as pristine and severe as a vicar's cassock. Built on a slope, it forms a natural platform for speakers and was the scene of mass political rallies and public meetings. In 1779, John Wesley preached to what is recorded as the first mass public meeting in the square. He is reported to have written that it was "the largest congregation I ever saw on a weekday." One wonders what he made of the public houses that came to anchor the corners of the square in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Damaged during World War II and extensively restored, Paradise Square now has just one public house and, in the past few years, it has morphed into a sophisticated restaurant and bar. But one can still imagine hungry diners, their appetites worked up by a lively rally, tucking into the Northern fare at the Wig & Pen.
A Northern FocusFood need not be difficult, challenging or intellectual to be sophisticated. The Wig&Pen's kitchen manages to pull highly accomplished food that is, nevertheless, comfortingly familiar and served in hearty portions.
The most adventurous choices cluster in the menu of starters - venison carpaccio, braised pork cheek in cider and sage, ravioli stuffed with beetroot, feta and walnuts. Main courses focus on steaks and chops, grilled fish, a few pasta dishes and a small vegetarian selection that seem more imaginative than tempting - fettucini with chilli, bok choy and mushrooms, vegetable tart with honey roast beetroot salad. Stick with the steaks and chops which are thick, beautifully cooked to order and served with interesting sides - polenta chips, beer battered onion rings, sweet potato dauphinoise. The night we visited, there was also a pretty spectacular seafood mixed grill that included salmon fillet, tuna steak, beer battered squid rings, prawn stuffed tomato, polenta chips and gremolata butter.
Leave Room for DessertThe Wig&Pen serves a nice selection of appropriately gooey desserts - pina colada sundae, Rich chocolate mousse. This being Yorkshire, rhubarb, a Yorkshire speciality usually appears on the menu in some guise or another. I tried a rhubarb creme brulee that was lovely.
If you are looking for good, well prepared classic dishes - with an occasional twist - while you are in Sheffield, can manage hefty portions and can appreciate the bargain prices available for dining early, check out the Wig&Pen in Sheffield's Cathedral Quarter.