I like to think that I have my ear to the ground when it comes to new places to dine out or enjoy a nice glass of wine or two in and around the area.
Staffordshire isn’t like Manchester or London (surprise surprise). There aren’t new restaurants popping up every other weekend with a cool “new” concept, fusion foodie combinations and trendy folk lining up to Instagram their kooky dishes… so when there is, I make sure I’m there, knife and fork in hand and ready to see what all the hoo-hah is about.
After banging on about making Blockhouse at the Sheet Anchor the next on our mission to experience the latest foodie places in Staffordshire, I finally managed to persuade Terri Lowe to partake in a soda & lime and good company one December evening.
Blockhouse at the Sheet Anchor opened in December 2016 following an extensive overhaul of the existing Sheet Anchor restaurant to unveil a restaurant combining all the best element of a grill house and traditional pub led by urban led interior decor. Citing the Orange Tree, Wayfarer and Swan with Two Necks as its sister venues under the umbrella of Parogon Pubs, Blockhouse at the Sheet Anchor had a lot to live up to in terms of location, atmosphere and menu.
& it did.
It would be easy to assume that Blockhouse is your usual steakhouse, after all, to the untrained palette a steak is a steak (mm, steak) but the guys behind this new venture have taken inspiration from all walks of cultures including the techniques of South African barbecue from where their Operations Manager heralds. With traditions such as cooking with barbeques on beaches with fresh catches from land and sea, keeping the fire burning for up to five days and cooking slow and low and grilling at searing temperatures to produce tender and delicious dishes, it’s these techniques that are mirrored in the kitchen of the Blockhouse.
Aimed in the most part (but not exclusively) to the meat lovers amongst us, the extensive menu features dishes such as a 12 hour smoked belly pork, sharing platters for two (including seafood and the butchers block), an array of contemporary burgers and a classic lobster and brisket dish means that you’re spoiled for choice upon ordering.
In order to give the menu a bit of whirl and because we were both admittedly already full from a plethora of festive office food, Terri and I both opted to DIY our own Blockhouse platter by ordering items from the starter and sides menu.
From the starters menu I ordered the brick barbecue hanger steak, seasoned with a cajun rub and served literally on a smouldering barbecue brick with skewered hanger steak, onions and green peppers cooked medium/well done with a delicious smoked taste. A bowl of tomatoes may not sound like a worthy starter, but the fresh sliced tomatoes and pea shoots were light and sweet in contrast to the tang of grated goats’ cheese finished with a dressing of olive oil, salt and pepper. From the sides menu I opted for a warming and wholesome Mac and Cheese. Presented in a saucepan (I kid you not), for £4 this gooey and cheesy treat is one of the most generous side servings I’ve ever ordered and could easily be mistaken for a primo pasta dish if you were in an Italian. It’s hands down one of the best Mac and Cheese that I’ve had the pleasure of tasting and if you like things spicy, you can have it served with jalapenos for a little extra.
Would I recommend a visit to Blockhouse at the Sheet Anchor? Certainly. For £18 each which consisted of 3 small dishes and two soft drinks, it’s really not overly pricey for the location, service, quality of food and the surroundings.
The restaurant itself is decorated in a neutral palette with smooth leather upholstery, modern Eddison lighting, sculptures of chopping boards and roaring log fires in the restaurant itself which gives an intimate laid back & traditional feel to the slick decor.