Why are there no Michelin-starred restaurants in Sheffield? A guide to fine dining in the Steel City

Why doesn't Sheffield have any Michelin-starred restaurants and what does it mean for its dining scene?

Updated on • Written By Ellie Donnell

Why are there no Michelin-starred restaurants in Sheffield? A guide to fine dining in the Steel City

Sheffield’s relationship with the Michelin Guide is a complicated, and somewhat frustrating, one. It was a sad day when the latest Michelin Guide was released in 2021, as the northern city was once again fated to walk home empty handed. The truth is that its so-called walk of shame wasn't a new experience for Sheffield, which hasn’t laid claim to a Michelin-starred restaurant for the last six years. The last restaurant to be awarded a coveted star was the Old Vicarage at Ridgeway back in 1998, and despite holding onto it for a respectful 17 years, sadly it lost the title of the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Sheffield back in 2015. Since then, it’s had no such luck on the award front.  

It’s not all empty pockets though, as there are still a handful of restaurants in Sheffield that hold a special mention in the Michelin guide. These restaurants have each earned a Michelin plate, so not quite a star, or even a Bib Gourmand which is the second-best prize to the much-coveted star. But still, you’re probably doing something right if Michelin says so. 

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The question now: is the calibre of Sheffield’s dining scene to be judged by its seeming lack of top-class restaurants? Not in our book. To discount an entire city’s restaurant offering due to a shortfall in fine dining destinations would be culinary treason of the snootiest kind. We at SquareMeal value everything from hole-in-the-wall cheap eats to white tablecloth establishments – including everything in between. And Sheffield’s dining landscape is not to be sniffed at. In recent years, its offering of plant-based restaurants has snowballed to accommodate for the growing trend for vegan eating – that's why we compiled this essential list to the best vegan restaurants in Sheffield. And if pizza and pasta are more your thing, you’ll be delighted to hear there are a surprising number of Italian restaurants in Sheffield, too. 

But we’re here to talk about Sheffield's very best restaurants, the cream of the crop if you will, and for that we must look to the below places. We’ve rounded-up the restaurants in Sheffield with a Michelin plate, which signifies a very good restaurant. And let’s be honest, ‘very good’ by Michelin’s standards is probably very, very, very good by anyone else's. Take a look.  

Juke & Loe 

Ecclesall Road is a three-mile-long stretch in Sheffield that’s home to numerous restaurants, bars, and boutique shops. It’s here that you can find Juke & Loe, a contemporary restaurant run by two brothers, where the atmosphere is relaxed and the menu small and simple. The pared-back presentation of its seasonal dishes are modern and elegant, while flavours here are pronounced and bold. We can’t help but drool at the sound of Cornish plaice with shiitake butter, mushroom puree, artichoke, miso and leeks; venison tartare with oyster mayonnaise; Brocco Kitchen shiitake, apple and seaweed brioche; and Mille-Feuille with caramelised apple, vanilla crème pâtissière, burnt butter and cinnamon ice cream.  
Book now: Juke & Loe

Joro 

The Michelin Guide describes Joro as ‘a simple but stylish place’, where its ‘tasting menus mix modern British, New Nordic and Asian cuisine and feature some unusual combinations’. The portions are on the dinkier side, but after eight courses of them you’re unlikely to feel the need to grab a meal deal afterwards. While its plates might say fine dining, the atmosphere at Joro is relaxed and welcoming to create an accessible dining experience. Ingredients are hyper-seasonal and responsibly-sourced, with examples being BBQ katsu pork belly, line-caught Cornish turbot with Yuzu and dashi creamed sea leeks, and Highland wagyu knuckle with wasabi mustard and watercress. 
Book now: Joro

Old Vicarage 

Ah yes, the restaurant that fell from grace. We’re only joking, because the Old Vicarage is still an award-winning restaurant that serves really excellent food. A large part of its charm lies in its name; the restaurant is indeed located inside an old Victorian church house, although anything typically traditional about this spot ends with the building it's housed in. Its innovative, modern menus – choose from the prestige menu or the short dinner menu – see locally-sourced ingredients cooked and crafted with meticulous attention to detail. Examples of dishes include salt-baked Jerusalem artichoke braised with ginger beer and thyme vanilla, hazelnut and herb garden oil; and roast deer with truffles, pommes anna and caramelised chestnuts. A matching wine flight is also available.  
Book now: The Old Vicarage

Rafters  

Blowout tasting menus don’t get much better than the ones on offer at Rafters, which includes four and six-course menus (vegetarian option available), as well as a kitchen table menu to be shared. The Michelin Guide describes the food here as ‘modern, richly flavoured dishes; cooked with enthusiasm and served with pride’. Look out for Highland wagyu with coal, beetroot and blackcurrant; Scottish venison with parsnip, blackcurrant and kale; and apple cake Filey Bay whisky, toasted almond and dill.  
Book now: Rafters

Brocco 

Brocco Kitchen is probably the most laid-back restaurant in this list, an all-day neighbourhood spot serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and a Sunday roast. It can be found inside boutique hotel Brocco on the Park, and many of its dishes are inspired by Nordic cuisine such as seasonal smorgasbords. It also specialises in free-from eating with a range of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free plates on offer.  
Book now: Brocco Kitchen

There's plenty more where that came from. Take a look at our list of the best restaurants in Sheffield.