A city to relish
In the latest in our popular cheap eats series, Ruth Allan heads for Sheffield
In the latest in our popular cheap eats series, Ruth Allan heads for Sheffield
The Steel City is an up and coming star on the regional food scene. If you know where to look, delicious snacks, posh meals and fine craft beers are hidden in plain sight. Michelin star-seekers will find what they’re looking for at The Old Vicarage, while highly contemporary restaurant Silversmith has a six-course Yorkshire-inspired tasting menu. It’s the more relaxed places that sum up the city though.
As the printed tiles of this new restaurant and bar suggest, rotisserie chicken and “British flats” (pizzas) are house specials. Like a chi-chi Pizza Express, the interior is cream, Glasgow grey and silver. Chandeliers shimmer, whitewashed boards creak shabby chic. It might look more 2002 than 2012, but Graze Inn was fully booked on a Sunday night. It’s the baby of the Brew Kitchen family, co-owned by chef Richard Smith and Thornbridge Brewery’s Jim Harrison. The result is a destination for award-winning ale and pub food with NYC ambition. Portions come big or cute, with everything designed to share. Saffron risotto with very slowly cooked oxtail was lemony heaven, although a quarter of buttermilk-rubbed rotisserie chicken with sides of jalapeno salsa and green salad (£6) hadn’t spent quite long enough in the oven. Sweet potato fries (£4) were good, coral-coloured chilli salt jazzed up squid tempura. My son’s margherita flat came with a rolling pizza knife, every eight-year-old’s wildest dream. While in the area, stroll down Sharrowvale Road for JH Mann fishmongers and Greedy Greek Deli.
Flats from £10, rotisserie chicken from £6, Thornbridge Lord Marples, £3.30 pint, house Bulgarian chardonnay, £15. Graze Inn, 315-319 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, S11 8NX. Tel: 0114 267 6666
Steel City Cakes and the Broadfield Ale House are worth a go in the Abbeydale Road area but I’m here for Bragazzis. Recommended by Sheffield-born blogger Helen Franscesca, it’s the spit of a back street café in Pisa. Figs perched in a crate on the counter while a basket of ciabatta sandwiches (asiago cheese, grilled aubergine, sun dried tomato pesto and fresh basil, or a deluxe salami picante, olive and grilled pepper brown bloomer, both £3.60) was nearly sold out. I ordered an americano coffee (house blend, made by Sheffield roasters Pollards, £4.50 a bag), rich dark chocolate brownie with hazelnuts, and baked cheesecake. Wrapped in clingfilm and greaseproof paper, the cheeses in the chiller cabinet look like the ones in my fridge at home. I chose a slice of deliciously multi-textured taleggio (£2.10/100g) to join them. A Bragazzi paring knive (£30) dangled above my head, while Italian eggs wobbled in a stack as I waited. Hotch-potch furniture and a rusty Vespa in the window made for an authentic nibble of Italy.
Coffee £1.70, cakes £2.50, sandwiches £3.60. 220-226 Abbeydale Road, Sheffield, S7 1FL. Tel: 0114 258 1483. Open Mon-Sat, 9am-5.30pm, Sun 11-4pm
Recommended by The Big Issue in the North readers, this baby blue café has Yorkshire’s finest as suppliers. Inspired by New Zealand’s café scene, owners Trudi Colman and Justine Twigge have designed a menu that’s 80 per cent vegetarian and vegan to 20 per cent meat. I enjoyed perfectly pulled pork in a floury bap with homemade red cabbage coleslaw and a feta and sun-dried tomato puffed pastry (£2.50/£6.50 with salad and bread) as the airy restaurant filled up. Just-fried tortilla strips in the spicy Mexican soup (£4.50) were inspired, the tough avocado and under-spiced tomato soup were less so. At the weekend, Welsh rarebit with a poached Gainsborough egg (£5) and breakfast stacks complete with regional tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, halloumi, egg and homemade tomato chutney (£6.50) are best sellers. Weekdays are all about the homemade falafel with hummus and vine leaves, fresh filled omelettes, and hearty stews. Salads are made from Hazelhurst Fruitery’s most seasonal while drinks include Pollard’s coffee and organic elderflower cordial. I felt healthier just stepping in the door. Booking recommended.
Tea and coffee from £1.80, tarts from £2.50, mains around £6.50. Homemade, 4 Nether Edge Road, Sheffield, S7 1RU. Tel: 0777 4013 438. Open 10am-3pm-ish every day except Mon, and Fri-Sat evening
Street Food Chef
With a new canteen in the heart of student territory, Street Food Chef serves Mexican grub on the go. The takeaway on Pinstone Street offers breakfast burritos (streaky bacon, free range egg, black beans, Monterey jack cheese, salsa, salad and sour cream) from £3.75 regular to £5.45 large, authentic Tex-Mex tacos (small, soft burritos ideal for you to cradle around the filling), nachos and burritos. We found the beef brisket and slow-cooked tacos, with larger than ideal chopped onion chunks, a little lacking in zest. But the mini beef burrito was a riot, with promising attention to detail. Beans are cooked with a spice blend inspired by Toronto’s Mex food carts, chipotle chillis give the salsa its sizzle. Beef is slow cooked with oregano and local Henderson’s Relish. We ate standing up on a shiny table, sour cream oozing from our wraps, cans of Rio Tropical on the side, and a bag of Ring of Fire chilli seeds (£2.50) to grow back home.
Burritos £3.75. Street Food Chef, 98 Pinstone Street, S1 2HQ. Tel: 0114 273 7909. Open daily until 5.30pm, Sunday, 4pm. Street Food Chef Mexican Canteen, 90 Arundel St, S1 4RE Tel: 0114 275 2390. Mon-Sat 10am-10pm
Few pubs in the country can rival the Sheffield Tap. Sprawled over three rooms, ornate tiles, brass and woodwork hint at an Edwardian refreshment room. Modern touches include drawings of Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley, and the pub, only opened in 2009, has won awards for conversion and beer offering. A strapping bar takes centre stage with draught ales, real ciders such as Thistly Cross and porters on rotation, as well as four Thornbridge ales. I took ages to make a choice from 200-plus bottles, eventually going for a Danish To Øl Raid Beer. Red, rich and rusty, this is a strong, full-bodied lager. The ale drinker in the party tried a pint of Hequinox, made in Goole by the Great Heck Brewery (this particular brew secured bronze in the recent SIBA awards), my son had a cola. The vibe was not unlike a plush railway waiting room with beer. Dogs are welcome and beer-loving train spotters will be in seventh heaven as the bar looks out over platform 1B.
Real ales £2.60-£3.50, keg beers £3-£7, sandwiches and paninis £3.50. Sheffield Station, Sheaf St, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 2BP. Tel: 0114 273 7558
I work in the centre of Sheffield and love to get food from a lady from Venezuela who has taken over a place called Pirates Pasties.
She is based at the entrance of Orchard Square on the Church Street side opposite the LloydsTSB bank. She does some lovely Mexican food, fajitas with various fillings and breads. You can also have the toppings on salad and it is all home made, including the salsas, and is really good value for money. You are always greeted with a friendly chat and a smile. I would definitely try it while in Sheffield.
I thought I’d write to encourage you away from the city centre and towards Heeley and Nether Edge.
A great little café for families on Chesterfield Rd run by a local parent is the Honey Pie Tea room. Jo, who runs the café, set up last year after some market testing selling cakes and coffee from the local park. It’s very family friendly and kitsch although my inner-minimalist screams against the clutter and posters all over the windows blocking all available daylight! My kids think it’s a real treat to go there.
The Home Made Café in Nether Edge is also great. They do burger nights, which are very popular, although I haven’t made it to one yet. The decor is restrained kitsch with dressers with cake stands and attractive tablecloths. It does a roaring trade when the farmers market is on. The staff are very friendly.
These cafés offer locally sourced food for good value.
My favourite good-value places to eat in Sheffield include Blue Moon Cafe, St James’ Street (next to the cathedral) – home-cooked vegan meals. Really good, really reasonable. Probably the best place to eat in town, and it feels so healthy.
Fanoush, London Road, is a falafel takeaway. £3 for a filling falafel and salad wrap. There are only about five things on the menu. I love this place!
Dhanistas, Abbeydale Road, is a South Indian/Sri Lankan restaurant. The vegetable curries are the best, the vada and the dosas lovely, and it’s super cheap!
The Orchid, London Road, is my favourite Thai restaurant – tasty and not expensive. The people are so friendly.
Actually, all the places I’ve mentioned have very friendly staff.