The ‘Specials’ board at Quintessential Kitchen is a treat.
Hot Yorkshire ham sandwiches sit alongside white chocolate & pistachio blondies, and vine ripened tomato soup & cheesy croutons.
“I like to marry the specials in with the time of year,” explains Martin Blake, owner of the South Yorkshire eaterie, which is Barnsley’s best-kept secret, tucked away in a pretty sidestreet.
“The menu reflects my own travels, it’s everything I love to make, so we have Thai food, Spanish, bits of Italian, and some great traditional English food. I’ve always had a sort of taste memory; an ability to deconstruct a dish’s ingredients and then reconstruct it back home.
“We make everything on-site and completely from scratch - our own bread, sauces and chutneys.”
The cafe, which counts Dan Jarvis and Dickie Bird amongst its regulars, is based in the town’s Tobacco Warehouse. And stepping through the door, you immediately feel the busy pace of the day drop away. From our spot at a table in the middle, we have a perfect view of Martin slicing the Yorkshire Ham on the counter and the smell of the freshly-baked bread wafting through the building is heavenly.
We order one hot Yorkshire ham Sandwich (of course) and the bao buns 5-spice shredded pork with spring onion and Thai salad, from the Specials Board. For our little one, aged just three, Martin whips up a simple cheese sandwich on sliced bread.
The bao look so exciting when they arrive it’s almost a shame to eat them, but when I slice through the fluffy bun, it’s mouth-wateringly good. The succulent pork in the centre is flavoured perfectly and adds the perfect tang in contrast to the smooth flavour of the bun. And despite never having much need in my life for salad before this, I have to hold my hands up and say I ate the whole thing.
The Yorkshire ham sandwich was also absolutely delicious - thick and with a great salty flavour, between slices of homemade bread you could really sink your teeth into. A choice of three homemade chutneys was a nice touch and finished the dish off. A favourite was the side portion of homemade potato salad that accompanied it.
For dessert we couldn’t resist the blondies with homemade vanilla icecream - and they didn’t disappoint: gooey and good to the last bite.
“The word Quintessential refers to quality and class and that’s what we strive to provide,” adds Martin.
Our bill came to £29.30.
Star rating out of five:
Three more to choose from:
The Potting Shed, Barnsley Road
Aroma Cafe Bar, The Arcade
The Victorian Tea Rooms, The Arcade