There is loads and loads to like about Joro. But if I book a table for a tasting menu - which I have been told by the restaurant themselves takes around two and a half hours - then I rather object to having to vacate the table after two. Fair play to the server, he told us as soon as we arrived that they would need the table back at eight. And, owing to bad traffic across Sheffield we were about five minutes late arriving for our booking. And, I totally understand why restaurants turn tables - especially relatively new, popular restaurants who need to get bums on seats to generate revenue. But two hours was stingy, by their own reckoning; as a result, the pace of the meal was slightly quicker than I would have liked and we were not offered coffee (which, as it happened, we would both have appreciated). Clearly, the solution is not to book a table at six, but why should early punters be treated any differently to those who prefer to dine later?
Ooooh, deep breath. That was tough. Back to the fan-girl stylings to which my readers are much more accustomed. Because, as I said, there was loads to like here. The style is difficult to describe except to say it is very distinctly, typically, a certain type of modern British. Helpful, huh? They themselves describe it as "An urban restaurant influenced by nature" - which is fair enough. I would add that they are not constrained by any particular cuisine type, seeing as how the flavour profiles seemed to range across Europe and out to the Far East in scope.
The ten course tasting menu was considered, balanced and well executed with some dishes touching upon the sublime. Of the savoury courses, a full four were entirely vegetarian and it was great to see these plates holding their own against their meaty counterparts. A tangle of roasted brassicas served on a black garlic sauce, for example, really demonstrated how vegetables can stand up to hefty, smoky flavours and deliver something that is more than the sum of its parts.
For all that, our favourite courses all happened to involve meat - so no chance of us converting yet. Among the initial snacks, the cubes of homemade black pudding with apple cider gel were utterly divine. The pudding had a dense, almost fudgy texture which I appreciated very much.
I was in raptures over 130 day aged beef tartare with smoked butter and truffle. Just look at the amount of truffle on that plate! That shows a real generosity of spirit in the kitchen. Surprisingly, or perhaps not given that this was a brigade of chefs who clearly knew what they were doing, the beef more than held its own. This was an autumnal dish, musty and earthy - again, huge flavours but all in harmony.
D was particularly taken with mallard - cooked sous vide in a brine and served with a punchy coriander pesto, soy ketchup and puffed rice. I say particularly taken, he spent the rest of the evening talking about it. And much of the next day. He says that he wants to recreate it himself and consulted with one of the chefs as how best to do this. I am quite happy with this development.
One of the desserts - a brown butter and muscovado parfait on a Parkin base with sherry syrup and sour apple - was a thing of beauty and a joy forever. The other was good, although paled slightly in comparison with this inspired combination of sweet and sour and spice.
So much to like and a minor annoyance. I would go back to Joro, and considering Sheffield is about an hour away by train that's quite the compliment. But I wouldn't book an early table and I'd probably point blank refuse to leave until they brought me an espresso. Just to learn them.