The following review has been written by Sheffschefs after a visit to the establishment. All visits are made anonymously, as ordinary paying customers.
The Cricket Inn is now in the hands of a partnership that includes Richard Smith, who is well known for his culinary prowess at the likes of Artisan and Thyme Cafe.We were long overdue a get together with a couple of friends, so we headed off to the Cricket Inn on a chilly Thursday evening in mid February to catch up with them over a good meal and a drink or two.
It was cosy and inviting inside and we were pleased to note that it still feels like a 'proper pub' having retained the traditional style but with some new bistro touches a la Thyme Cafe, such as hotch potch wooden chairs and the trademark silver buckets holding assorted cutlery. There is a printed menu, plus plenty of chalk boards, which also highlight daily specials and an abbreviated early bird menu which was on offer until 7pm the night we visited. For those watching their weight, there is also a 'lighter' menu which seemed to feature main menu items with reduced or replaced carbohydrates. Mind you, when you see the chips here, you'd have to be a strong character to refuse them.
The pate starter was described as having 'lots of toast' and they weren't kidding either - our friend really enjoyed it but had to leave some toast to keep space for the main course. My own cauliflower soup was lovely and light, warming and very tasty and the smoked salmon was just the ticket for our friend who wanted a starter, but something nice and light. Top marks went to the soft shell crab with chilli jam which was quite a work of art perched on a slate tile with its garnish alongside, looking as if it might scuttle off if disturbed. It was quickly polished off though and thoroughly enjoyed.
Main courses were all substantial without being overwhelming. One of our friends enjoyed a meat salad from the lighter menu options and two of our orders were for traditional pub favourites, a sirloin steak and a steak and kidney pie, which went down well. The steak and kidney pie looked very attractive on yet another slate tile with everything in dinky dishes, but this did make it something of a challenge to eat. After the praise for the soft shell crab starter I was looking forward to it, but must confess that half way through I was wishing that I'd gone for the fish cakes, as two soft shell crabs with accompanying chips made for a very rich meal and I struggled to do it justice. I'd opt for the starter version next time.
With a few glasses of wine, a pint of real ale and a couple of soft drinks, we paid about £27 per person for a first class meal in a very convivial atmosphere. There were plenty of people in eating meals, but also others who were just out for a drink and we noticed some lovely options for those who just want a snack whilst enjoying a pint or a glass of wine - forget the crisps and nuts, how about sharing some hand cut chips with with mayonnaise, a few fat juicy olives or some fresh bread and dipping oils? These and other enticing snacks were all on offer.
Nestling half hidden up the delightful sounding 'Penny Lane' in Totley is the Cricket Inn - not surprisingly, in front of the Cricket pitch.
We'd gone for an unplanned lunch with some friends and were very pleasantly surprised by what we found. The Cricket Inn has a lovely pub feel to it, with open fires and wooden tables, but the bar food is definitely a cut above your average pub meal.
A wide range was on offer, from sandwiches, hot and cold through to full hot meals. We sampled the deep fried Brie sandwich, a mushroom omelette and the special of the day, which was a pork loin with a rich sauce and mash. They were served on huge white bistro plates and tasted as good as they looked. Another highlight was the enormous bowl of chips we were presented with - the sort of chips that you remember from the distant past, before pre prepared lumps became the order of the day. They were golden, crispy and delectable. We almost fought over the final few.
All in, it was an excellent meal in a lovely cosy environment. They have a dining room adjacent to the pub too, for a more formal occasions and the menu for that looked very inviting too. No doubt, we'll be back for more soon.