No Name is the hottest culinary ticket in town and with good reason, writes Amanda Wragg.

No Name, Sheffield
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Even the Telegraph food writer found it difficult to book a table. “Never mind Noma, No Name in Sheffield is possibly the world’s hardest-to-get restaurant reservation,” tweeted Xanthe Clay. You know that when the broadsheets are circling, it’s time to jump in the car and head down the M1.

The No Name buzz has been getting louder since it opened in 2017, and an entry in the 2019 Waitrose Good Food Guide hasn’t done it any harm. An endorsement from Luke French, at the Michelin Bib-Gourmanded Joro on the other side of town, recommending folk to find it has put it on every foodie’s radar, so yes, it’s not easy to score a table.

With just 20 covers, there are two sittings, and the only time left for us is 6.15pm and we have to clear the table two hours later. Plenty of time to rattle through a couple of courses and see what everyone’s banging on about. Well it turns out to be not quite as simple as that– the end they had to hose us out.
Squashed between Denise’s Gent’s Barbers and a pet supplies shop, No Name is a simple affair. The room is small with an eclectic collection of stuff on the walls: sepia photos of old Sheffield, strings of lights, framed sheet music and incongruously, two pairs of stilettos. There are Bentwood chairs and vintage Sheffield Steel cutlery. The menu is written on a sheet of brown paper hung on a wire with clothes pegs. There are a couple of nibbles, three starters, four mains and two puds. I want to work my way through the lot.

Twice baked cheddar souffle

Slices of warm, soft, sea-salted focaccia arrive with a dish of something described as cream cheese and chives; forget any notion of Philadelphia, this is Ambrosia. Next, twice-baked Cheddar soufflé. I’ve got history with this dish – it’s easy to get spectacularly wrong but it rarely stops me ordering it in the hope that one day a decent one will fetch up. Well, it’s fetched up, and is a thing of such elegance it stops me in my tracks. Velvety, punchy, sat on a tangle of celeriac shoelaces, scattered with toasted hazelnuts, it’s my dish of the year. Crispy corn-fed chicken is the classiest KFC, sensationally light with the whisper of a crumbed coat and a shower of Parmesan. Alongside, there’s griddled baby gem and a slick of creamy Caesar dressing; ingenious.

Curry cued salmon with mango chutney, mint yoghurt and wild rice.

One of the mains is braised beef and mash but in my book it’s an autumn dish, and we’ve got a sultry evening bordering on sticky. “Market fish” turns out to be a whacking fillet of sea bream, accurately cooked and beautifully presented with a jaw-dropping grapefruit and basil beurre blanc, fresh peas and runner beans. It’s such a simple plate of food, light and colourful. Any dish that involves prune ketchup has my name on it. The belly pork it comes with falls apart at the fork, it’s rich, treacly and dense, and a sliver of black pudding and a golden square of spud results in a dark brown plate of food offset only with buttery kale.
Chef/owner is Thomas Samworth who in a previous life worked at Gary Rhodes’ W1, Max Fischer’s Rowley’s in Baslow and the Schoolrooms in Low Bradfield. What he’s doing here is extraordinary, given he’s working in a kitchen the size of three phone boxes and cooking on two rings. The place is full on a Wednesday evening, all the dishes are coming out on time. There’s one waitress, and she’s warm and informed. It helps that she doesn’t feel the need to explain “the concept”; radical, I know.

Warm chocolate mousse with honeycomb, salted caramel and milk ice cream.

You won’t need dessert. We didn’t need it but everything that had gone before was so special we just couldn’t resist. And OMG, as the young people say. Warm chocolate mousse with salted caramel, honeycomb and milk ice cream is possibly the most gratifying thing I’ve eaten since the cheese soufflé: silky, salty, sweet, crunchy, warm, cool, all in one mouthful. With the vanilla cheesecake cream with lemon curd, white chocolate and raspberries, we let out sighs of pleasure.
Samworth cooks with the seasons and from the heart. He shows great restraint and intelligence, and he’s not without humour (I loved the Henderson’s Relish riff in the soufflé). There’s no shrinking from big flavours, and everything gets equal billing on the plate. And hats off to a chef who isn’t afraid of salt – Samworth uses it liberally and to good effect. There are no condiments on the table. That’s how confident he is.
No Name, 253 Crookes, Sheffield S10 1TF, tel: 0114 266 1520. Open Wednesday to Saturday, 6-11pm.

About The Author

Mandy Wragg is a freelance food journalist, writing and inspecting for the Yorkshire Post, Alastair Sawday, the Morning Advertiser, the AA, Cool Places and David Hancock's Inn Places. She co-writes, an independent guide to eating, drinking and staying in Yorkshire.

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