The thing is, I have these moments of doubt. It’s since I had this knee operation, when they took out some of my hamstring to rebuild my knackered anterior cruciate ligament. Sounds painful, you should see the video (really, I have it on dvd - our dinner parties are unforgettable) Just over two weeks after that, gingerly walking without my crutches for the second time, I slipped on my decking, broke my wrist and dislocated my elbow hideously. Luckily it was my left arm. Og no, that’s right I’m left-handed. Skip on to, well, now some nearly 4 months later, and my arm still doesn’t straighten, it still hurts plenty, and I have seven pins, three screws and a plate in my wrist.
Wednesday was one of those days where doubt overtook me. I can maybe cope with not playing football or even cricket again, it would be no loss to the game on either account. But is it going to ache like this for ever? Am I ever going to get any power in my wrist so I can do normal things like put on the hand brake with one hand, open jars, or (possibly more importantly) go back to work.
All this was on my mind as me and Mrs Mafia took a taxi down to Crosspool, the small leafy suburb of Sheffield where Artisan is situated. It’s celebrated chef Richard Smiths restaurant which opened back in December 1995 as ‘Smiths’ opened. The Smiths had spent the previous decade working both here and in the US in fantastic properties from country house hotels to restaurants, pubs and cafe’s gaining experience and picking up accolades and awards along the way. After 5 Years as Smiths, the site was re-styled and renamed ‘Richard Smith at Thyme’. After another successful 5 years as ‘Thyme’, where the restaurant had become known for its bold 7 days a week menu, another rebrand to the site saw the restaurant renamed ‘Artisan’, with a Manhattan meets Paris bistro feel. It now finds itself at heart of the biggest independent restaurant group in Sheffield, in conjunction with Thornbridge Brewery.
I can’t comment on Manhattan/Paris thing, but what I can say about Artisan is that it has a lovely relaxed yet ‘cool’ feel and appearance about it. And the food (and the beer) is beautiful. The Thornbridge (all the beer is Thornbridge Brewed) Jaipur removed a little bit of the doubt about my mind (and it wasn’t just lifting the pint glass in my left hand that did it either) and I followed up by taking on an Asian Tuna Burger, Barnsley (lamb) chop, and a Lemon tart. Mrs M (she actually doesn’t mind being referred to as this) had Slat and Pepper Squid, a main of Halibut and Creme Brulee.
What you can do at Artisan, is choose from a 6-12-6 menu, where basically the starters and puddings are £6 and the mains £12. The normal menu is a little more, £5-£10 for the main courses and a couple of pounds or so for the bookends, but you can choose from both menus (or at least we could) The staff were excellent, helpful and friendly and all in all it was a thoroughly good night out. You can check out a sample menu on the Artisan website, but do remember it changes every day.
By the time I got home my doubt were gone. I felt like I could take on the world. Well, a jar of sauce anyway, for a start.