Yorkshire Life Luncheon 18Fifty5 restaurant, Copthorne Hotel, Sheffield

PUBLISHED: 13:08 28 March 2011 | UPDATED: 20:05 02 November 2015

Head chef John Lyons

Head chef John Lyons

Guests join us for lunch next to Sheffield United's Bramall Lane ground. Reporter Jo Haywood leaves her Leeds scarf at home Photographs by Andy Bulmer

Copthorne HotelCopthorne Hotel

John Lyons is a culinary conjurer. In fact, his food is so entertainingly inventive he could probably bag himself an honorary membership of the Magic Circle. With more than 15 years in the hospitality industry, including stints at the Savoy in London and at Michelin starred restaurants in France, the 38-year-old Yorkshire chef is back on home turf as head of the highly skilled brigade of 18Fifty5 at Copthorne Hotel in Sheffield.

He is clearly on a mission to build on the already prestigious culinary reputation of this fine South Yorkshire restaurant, which nestles snugly next to Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground, and attract the AA and Michelin accreditations he has held in the past for his ‘cutting edge rustic’ food.

‘I’m delighted to be back in Yorkshire,’ he said. ‘Especially as
part of the team at this superb hotel that’s fast becoming a major player in the county’s gastronomic circuit.

‘I relish pushing the boundaries while maintaining a simplistic approach in combining the many flavours of my classically based dishes.’ The menu he created for our lunch was a real boundary pusher with three magical courses that brought more gasps of awe, appreciation and pleasurable bewilderment than three weeks with David Blaine.

1855 restaurant1855 restaurant

It began with an ingenious chicken liver parfait dish served with a side order of instructions on how to eat it. After mixing the separate parts into a delicious whole in what looked like scientific bell jars, guests were left with a luxurious, earthy parfait to spread on their miniature loaves of crusty bread.

And that was just the starter. Pulling out the stops again for the main course, John conjured up another magical dish with rare, intensely flavoursome rounds of locally-farmed venison at its heart. The meat was good on its own, but teamed on the fork with a crunchy kernel of hazelnut and a sweet sweep of chocolate – swept from what looked like a deep-fried Ferrero Rocher – it reached even dizzier heights.

There was chocolate again for pudding, but not just a sweep this time. In this case, guests were presented with a cricket ball-sized globe of cold, crisp white chocolate filled with a beautifully sharp strawberry ice and studded with freeze-dried berry jewels.

This was quality, contemporary dining that more than matched its quality, contemporary surroundings – a perfect fit, according to Orla Watt, the hotel’s general manager.

Annie StirkAnnie Stirk

‘John came to us in November and we haven’t looked back since,’ she said. ‘He’s the perfect fit for us. He’s very innovative and inventive, but his food is still accessible. This is interesting food that everyone
can understand.’

The Copthorne, built by the owner of Sheffield United, opened in January 2009. Its 100-seat restaurant has since gone on to win awards and plaudits for its innovative menu built on a core of seasonal, locally sourced ingredients.

‘It’s a very Yorkshire-based menu,’ said Orla. ‘We want to keep our carbon footprint small, so sourcing locally makes sense, but it’s also about getting the best ingredients for our kitchen. Luckily for us, the best ingredients are right here on our doorstep.’

For more information about 18Fifty5 or Copthorne Hotel,
call 0114 252 5480 or visit millenniumhotels.co.uk/copthornesheffield


Wendy UlyettWendy Ulyett

Chicken liver parfait, hibiscus jelly, crispy duck and Grand Marnier

Round Green Farm venison, coffee, frangelico and hazelnut

White chocolate and strawberries

Wine notes

Toso Sparkling Chardonnay, Mendoza, Argentina: this has ripe green fruits, lime and melon combined with toasted aromas. It is vibrant and clean on the palate with a good length.

Bethany Riesling, Barossa Valley Australia 2007: powerful on the nose with a deep concentration of fruit and the hint of petrol that signifies a good Riesling. This is deep and rich on the palette with sufficient power to hold up to strong flavours.

Victoria Roberts and David WhitewayVictoria Roberts and David Whiteway

Malena Syrah, Sicily, Italy 2008: rounded, spiced fruit on the nose with great weight in the glass. This is smooth on the palette with sufficient grip from the tannin to balance the richness of a meaty dish.

Casa Silva Late Harvested Semillon Gewurztraminer, Colchagua, Chile: this super dessert wine from South American winemaker of the year Juan Pablo Silva has a powerful aroma, plenty of spiced fruit and just a hint of perfume.

Wines provided by Barrels & Bottles wine and champagne merchants of Sheepridge, Chesterfield, 01246 453399, barrelsandbottles.co.uk.

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