Wednesday, 6th March 2019
Last year, we were plagued by snow and frost when the ‘Beast from the East’ storm swept across England so my partner, Richard, and I have been making the most of the unseasonably and surprisingly beautiful weather!
We celebrated Richard’s birthday in true style by visiting Sheffield in South Yorkshire. We don’t live far from there and we were drawn by the bustling city centre, the theatres and the beautiful botanical gardens which are wonderful to wheel around in when the sun is shining.
We found an absolute gem of a restaurant less than ten minutes’ walk from the botanical gardens called Brocco on the Park which was amazing for access but also offered a diverse range of delicious food choices. Brocco allowed us to celebrate in beautifully decorated surroundings with menu choices that were not only beautifully presented but had a balanced flavour palette filled with fresh goodness. I loved their ‘Smorgasbord’ menu which was a Scandinavian option similar to Tapas, where multiple small plates are ordered and shared on the table. This was a social dining experience and allowed us to sample multiple tasty options rather than digging into one meal.
Brocco is only a short walk from the city centre of Sheffield - which has a lively arts scene – and boasts many beautiful hotel rooms if you wish to extend your stay beyond a meal.
One of the most helpful things about the restaurant was the car park and parking arrangements as city centre parking can be expensive and hard to find. There are car parking spaces allocated for each of the hotel rooms and a Blue Badge holder designated space available. More parking can be found nearby at St Augustine’s Church or on the Brocco Bank road from 9.30am-4pm.
Despite being a beautiful redbrick historic building, Brocco had easy access for wheelchair users. The front shows a short flight of steps and this is the main entrance to the building. However, there is a smooth ramp that leads from the righthand side of the building to a level-access disabled entrance. This is well signed on the large dark green board at the front of the building so wheelchair users can easily find their way towards this side entrance. Again, the doorway itself is very well signed as there is a clear notice stating to press the bell for attention and including a landline number to ring if there is no response.
We had no problem with this at all; a member of staff arrived promptly to open the door and welcome us into the restaurant. The entrance was smooth with no steps and only a very small lips which was positive to see! The flooring throughout was a smooth, solid wooden floor so any wheelchair could easily navigate the entire dining area. I used my WHILL Model C throughout my visit but a manual wheelchair user could easily self-propel on this surface without any problems!
The decor inside Brocco was light and airy. The design was simplistically Scandinavian but the fresh floral arrangements and large windows letting in natural light really set it off.
We visited at a lunchtime but the restaurant was still filled with many customers in a wide range of age groups and group sizes. There is even a lovely outdoor seating area with comfy sofa-style seats and tables if the weather is bright enough.
I was thrilled also that Brocco had clearly thought of disabled guests when designing their table arrangement; I could easily weave between every table and there was plenty of space for me to easily manoeuvre and pull into most seats using my WHILL Model C. WHILL’s specially designed omni wheels are perfect for a location such as this since they allow me to make really tight turns if I need to. Plus, the responsive controls are handy when changing direction to go between tables. However, I was lucky that I didn’t need to make full use of the tight turning circle capability of my WHILL as Brocco was so accessible to me.
We decided to share a ‘nibbles’ option while our Smorgasbord menu was being cooked. We chose the seeded crisp bread with homemade hummus and marinated olives. The presentation allowed the great food to speak for itself but I also loved the rustic slice of wood that it was served on! This was a really social sharing dish as we could break sections of the crisp bread off and eat it on our smaller plates. I think this and the Smorgasbord menu were all highly social choices as you got to share meals, try new foods and order things to place in the centre of the table. It would be the perfect choice to break the ice on a first date or to bring a larger group for a celebration shared meal!
The Smorgasbord menu involved ordering lots of smaller dishes. They arrived as they were prepared so there was no guarantee that all your dishes would arrive simultaneously, especially if you are in a large group, but I really enjoyed that aspect as it prolonged the dining experience and allowed our stomachs to rest after each delicious dish!
Our specials choice was the seared scallops which came with roast cauliflower puree and was topped with smoked trout roe. The scallops were delightfully light and their mild flavour contrasted with the stronger taste of the cauliflower and smoked fish roe. You could really tell the high-quality ingredients that had been used and how these intensified the flavour palette.
Alongside this, we also chose another fish dish. This was the crispy squid with lemon and garlic aioli. This was exceptionally tasty as the crunchy calamari rings contrasted beautifully with the homemade creamy mayonnaise-like sauce. The portion size was plentiful to share alongside the other small plates.
We both decided to go for the same dish as our second small plates; the 3oz beef fillet with roasted onion purée, potato terrine, crispy shallots and pink peppercorn sauce. This was beautiful! The steak was tender and had a deep meaty flavour. The chefs at Brocco had made some apt decisions as the crunchy shallots really paired well with the rest of the dish. This was my favourite Smorgasbord plate and I would order again!
Since we visited at lunch, Richard and I decided that we were too full to have a dessert but there were plenty of different varieties on offer there; something to please everyone.
Personally, I thought the disabled bathroom at Brocco was perfect for many wheelchair users. There were plenty of handrails to aid transfers, the toilet was at a good height and the sanitary bin was within easy reach of the toilet. There was a red pull cord and, although this initially seemed like it didn’t fully reach the floor, when you lowered the side handrail to the toilet this did. This would be really handy for a disabled visitor to feel safe when visiting the toilets. Plus, I loved the smell of their hand wash and moisturising cream.
The space within the toilet was easily large enough for me to fully turn my wheelchair around in. As I mentioned previously, I use a WHILL Model C which has specially designed omni wheels to allow tight turning circles and great manoeuvrability. However, I think most wheelchairs would easily turn in this space unless you are using a bulkier mobility scooter rather than a chair with a more compact frame like the WHILL I used.
Overall, Richard and I thoroughly enjoyed our time at Brocco. I loved the minimalistic Scandinavian decor but also the opulence of the fresh floral decorations that added wonderful pops of colour. The Smorgasbord menu had plenty of options that would suit every visitor, I also found this type of menu very social as you could share food with other members of your dining party. The food itself was nutritional and fresh but also had the sumptuous flavours you find in many forms of comfort food. The menu had many modern twists on classics that we all love and I enjoyed the fact that there was a monthly rotational specials menu to consistently give diners a fresh Brocco experience. The flavour palettes were well-balanced and the food looked beautiful on the plate; the food was certainly the star of the show at Brocco!
The access was also a real highlight of our dining experience. There was a disabled bay in their adjoining car park and the historic Brocco building was easily accessible to me via a side door that was clearly signed. The floor throughout was level-access and smooth. The table layout meant there was plenty of space for me to manoeuvre between tables and access all areas of the restaurant. Also, the accessible toilet met all my needs and had every amenity necessary to make a disabled customers’ life easy. Plus, the staff were really friendly and welcoming throughout our visit so this definitely made our experience even better.
If you’re in Sheffield or the surrounding areas then please do give Brocco a visit; our whole experience was exceptional and we will certainly be visiting again!
A version of this blog appears on Disabled Travel with Georgina
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