Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Abroad in Sheffield

I started this list as a resource of affordable eating holes for anyone who has the misfortune of finding themselves hungry in Sheffield. It's not a misfortune that is unique to Sheffield, although I'd venture that due to our particular type of suburban sprawl, significant leg work is required in contrast to a concentrated metropolis like Manchester. 

There are glaring omissions here that I make no apology for. No Jöro or Rafters, no Peak District destination fayn daynin. I rarely eat out as a special occasion, I eat out because I'm hungry. This is no reason to stuff a soggy supermarket sandwich in your cake hole for reasons of expediency. The advancement of gastronomic culture is not measured in skilfully intense young denim aprons trying to tweezer their way into the red book, it is the everyday availability of affordable quality.

HowSt (Howard Street) - imagine taking the concept of a British caff, of the bacon egg and sausage variety, injecting some professionalism into front of house and buying a decent coffee machine, and using edible ingredients. The full English is a thing of beauty, rather than a sorry shameful opportunity for self loathing.

Proove and Porter Pizza - I mention these in the same breath for obvious reasons, and despite their differences both are excellent. No flabby boiled dough disks here, or ridiculous gimmicky toppings, charred crispy wood fired simplicity. Under no circumstances leave Proove without eating a tiramisu.

Noodle Inn Centro - I've given up on the London Road branch, which has turned into the sort of place you can take the kids for uncle Mike's sixtieth.  Because it functions as a de facto canteen for international students (chopsticks in one hand, iPhone in the other) the kitchen straddles volume output economy and competence. At these prices you can't expect the sort of stellar cooking you get with the traditional Sichuanese cooking of China Red or transcendent Hunanese at Golden Taste, but that costs nearly twice the price. Even if they were twice the price, they would still be the best value restaurants in town.

Noodle Doodle - again, don't be put off by the name, or the gaudy decor that invites the lazy deprication of 'cheap and cheerful'. Everybody needs somewhere to go and eat laksa soup when they're feeling frail, and my ongoing investigations suggest this is the place. It is certainly a solid reposte to the insipidly mild version served at the bafflingly popular Saigon 68.

The Beer Engine - a tricky one this, as I haven't eaten here since the departure of the superb John Parsons, but I trust their management to sidestep the pitfalls of tedious British pub stodge and get their shit together.

Apna Style - seriously brilliant no frills cooking, seemingly knocked out by one bloke with a couple of pans and a tandoor. Gluten apostates are advised to take their own spoon, as cutlery is not provided. An inexpensive inexhaustible supply of freshly baked chapphati and roti is.

Just Falaffs - I know, let it pass. Situated at the southern tip of the Lentil Belt which stretches from Hunters Bar to Meersbrook Park, this is a vegetarian restaurant that knows it's customer base and is, shudder with me, 'on trend'. This is of absolutely no importance however next to the fact that, like the pizza joints mentioned above, this is doing something g that few people have the faith or conference to carry through. As the name suggests they make falafels. Fresh every day. The same goes for the bread and tiny handful of other dishes. I'm sick of being told the 'customer wants choice'. I don't. I don't want the choice of walk into some gargantuan mega Tesco and being given the choice of a hundred differently branded loaves of Chorleywood  dogshit sliced white. I'd rather go to a proper bakery that makes one type of bread and has done so forever. 

On the subject of bread, Tamper a coffee on Westfield Terrace have recently started selling loaves from the Depot Bakery. Poor to this, we had a 'city centre', a hub within a conurbation of half a million inhabitants that didn't sell a single loaf of properly made bread. This is still something of a problem. Forge Bakhouse and Seven Hills do thugs properly, but you need a trek out into the Lentil Belt to find them.

This is a situation I don't see changing any time soon. More so than perhaps any other British City, Sheffield has been doomed to centrifugality from the off, and the latest developments in the ongoing debacle of city centre regeneration do not inspire. It is for this reason that I feel it important to chip in by writing this. Over the last decade, by asking like minds on the Internet and putting in the leg work have I started to out together this disparate map of people worth chucking your money at. If I save a single soul prom Pizza Express or a Pret a Manger, my toil shall not have been in vain.