Saturday, 16 March 2019

FOOD | SFINX, SHEFFIELD RESTAURANT REVIEW

I was kindly invited to review Sfinx, this in no way affects the validity of my review.

Romanian food isn't something you'd necessarily come across up north, and it wouldn't be a cuisine that'd be at the forefront of my mind if I was going to pick somewhere to eat but when I was invited to try Sfinx, a Romanian restaurant in Sheffield, I was intrigued as to what it would be like and as you well know I love trying new places to eat in Yorkshire!

When I first asked Kev and we looked at the menu, his first reaction was 'hmm, but are we going to like it?' - there were things on the menu that we'd never heard of before and certainly had never actually tasted but I was determined to try it because I wanted to experience Romanian cuisine.


On arrival we were greeted by the restaurant manager who was one of the most friendly gentlemen I think I've ever met and he quickly explained that we were no different to most British people in that we've never come across Romanian food before and we were pretty much clueless as to what to order so we agreed that we'd try a few different items from the menu to get a full Romanian experience. The atmosphere itself in the restaurant was smart but relaxed; it's clearly a favourite with local families.

The host explained that Romanian food is a bit of a hybrid of different cuisines brought to Romania over the years from Bulgaria, Russia, Austria and Slovakia and most of it had been tweaked with their own blend of herbs and spices. All dishes are homemade in the restaurant so by the time everything had been explained, my initial reservations were gone and I was looking forward to trying some Romanian food. 


I started with a mason jar of their homemade lemonade which was delicious; not overly sweet or sour. They have an amazing selection of wine which we did sample a little bit of and despite the fact I'm not a wine drinker per se, their Moldovan Cabernet Sauvignon was really enjoyable; so smooth (all I could think when he mentioned Moldovan wine was how much Michael Whitehall went on about it on Travels with my Father...)

Then came the starters: homemade bread which was absolutely amazing especially because it was still warm served with a 'Sfinx Sharing Platter' which is devilled egg, aubergine & winter spread,  cabbage roll, salad, pickles and olives. It's my ideal starter because I like little 'picky' bits as starters, especially when it's served with bread. 

  


My particular favourite was the aubergine spread (the lighter coloured one) which is made from baked aubergines, chopped onions and mayonnaise. It sounds so simple to make and it probably is but it is absolutely beautiful with the homemade bread. 

Cabbage rolls are made with seasoned ground pork, pickled cabbage and bacon, again, they were something I'd never tried before and I did wonder whether they'd be my cup of tea but they were so tasty! I knew I'd like the devilled eggs because eggs are among my favourite food - they're filled with chicken liver pate and in all honesty I could have eaten lots of those! The only part of the sharing platter that we weren't keen on was the pickles on the side but I do think that's purely down to our own personal tastes. 

We spoke to the host and decided that we wanted to try a few different bits from the menu for our main course; we chose Hungarian goulash, Romanian stew and then a selection of Romanian speciality meats served with rosemary potatoes.


The Hungarian goulash is a mildly spiced beef stew, I double checked before we ordered that it wasn't going to be too spicy but the host explained that it was mild, served with a chilli so that customers could make it to their desired level of spice. The beef was so tender and was perfect with the potatoes, paprika and spices. It's one of those meals that just warms you up; a real comfort food. 


Romanian stew is a mixture of chopped pork, chicken breast, Romanian sausages, and mushrooms, blended with rich tomato sauce, served with polenta, fried egg and cheese on top. Polenta isn't something I've ever really tried before but it seems to be a bit of a Romanian alternative to chips and rice. It went really well with this stew in making it into another hearty meal. I preferred the Hungarian goulash whereas Kev preferred the Romanian stew but it was nice for us to be able to try both.

The amount of meat on the platter was quite daunting after we'd eaten so much already but I was determined to try the Mici and pork collar which are two traditional meats eaten in Romania. Mici are minced meat rolls made of a mixture of beef, lamb and pork meat with spices - they are extremely tasty and go really well with the Romanian mustard served on the side. The pork collar also surprised me because I associate pork with being a little bit dry but that's because as Brits we traditionally eat it as chops which is quite a dry meat but the collar was beautifully tender. The rosemary potatoes were something else; despite the fact that I was already full from all the beautiful food we'd eaten, I just kept picking at them because they were so nice!


After giving us 10 minutes for our food to settle, our conversation with the host turned to dessert and we decided that we'd share one because we really wanted to try something but we wouldn't manage one each. 

Papanash is the most traditional Romanian dessert on the menu so naturally we went for that. Don't be put off by the description of them being 'cheese doughnuts' because these are absolutely to die for. The way they're made makes them so light but equally indulgent at the same time; served with cream and wild berries you really have to try this when you visit Sfinx.


I'd recommend Sfinx to anyone in the Sheffield area looking for somewhere new to try; if you let the host know that you're new to the cuisine he'll definitely be able to point you in the right direction but based on my experience if you try nothing else during your visit you absolutely must have the Aubergine spread and papanash... when I visit again I fully plan to try something different from the main menu but they'll remain my choices for starter and dessert!

If you want to take a look at the menu before you go there's a copy on the Sfinx website along with lots of other useful information about location and opening times.

Have you ever tried Romanian cuisine?

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