Think of your favourite town or city. Now think of the food scene in that town. Are you sat in a coffee shop with a book and hazelnut latte? Or maybe you’re tucking into a Sunday roast at the local pub, accompanied by a craft draught beer or cider? Even tucking into some international street food for a casual lunch break while shopping?
Every town and city I have lived in has had a unique food scene. As a self-confessed foodie (even my mum has noticed I talk about food more than anything else), the food scene where I’m living is always something I’m aware of. In the town I grew up in, it’s all about Coffee 1’s chai lattes, spiced apple and cinnamon, and smoothies. When I was at university in Norwich, I was devoted to one particular tea shop but frequently visited several pubs with my course mates. Sheffield turned out to be no different. But before I reveal where my favourite place to eat and chill in Sheffield was, let me tell you about the other places I discovered.
The takeaway that first gave me hope that Sheffield had a food scene to explore. While exploring the city before moving there, I discovered a small white takeaway that marketed itself as healthy. Obviously I went in to see what was going on but, honestly, I was expecting to find sweet potato fries and halloumi. Instead, I found baked sweet potatoes, veggie noodles, quinoa, turkey meatballs, vegan pad thai, and even several green smoothies. As a health freak, gym rat, and foodie, I was loving it. My first meal there was turkey and cranberry meatballs in a tomato sauce with veggie noodles and quinoa. So delicious that the first thing I did after was phone up my sister to tell her about it. Since then I’ve introduced friends to Nourish, had breakfasts and lunches there, and grabbed more than one green smoothie in passing. And yes, I get that smug healthy feeling whenever I visit.
Any student knows that the university coffee shops and pubs play a big part in your experience of the student food scene. For anyone in the know at the University of Sheffield, Interval is the place to check out. A cafe bar, it’s open 7 days a week and serves food until 9pm throughout the week. From my first postgrad social, where I knocked my own drink out of my hand, through to lunches with my coursemates, Interval is integral to my Sheffield. It will particularly go down in history, or at least my history, as the place where I began to prefer vegetarian dishes to meat dishes. As someone who was brought up to believe meat is an integral part to a meal, to realise you prefer the butternut squash enchilada to the chicken and chorizo version is a big deal. So even if I didn’t have wonderful memories on Interval, I would be including it for just opening my eyes to how varied vegetarian food can be.
There is only one flaw with Interval… they aren’t open until 11am! When you have a mentoring session that finishes at 10am and you want to grab a late breakfast, 11am opening is not ideal. Fortunately, Coffee Revolution is open for breakfast pastries and coffee for those students who are awake before midday. Turns out that there are more than I expected as well! Though no Hive (my beloved union coffee bar from the UEA days), Coffee Revolution offered up great coffee and hot chocolate for a reasonable price… unless, like me, you like flavoured syrups, which always inflate the price. If you’re a fruit and herbal tea drinker, you can try something from their ‘regular’ range or branch out and try a Birdhouse tea from a local company. The only problem was finding a seat with enough room to work at while enjoying your coffee. Personally, I always favoured a window seat and staring out while daydreaming… I mean working!
This is the one place that I wish, wish, wish I could have taken my sister to. Inspired by Brooklyn diners, the Lucky Fox specialises in one specific food… Fried Chicken! Beloved by many people, including my sister who will drive to a different town to get hold of it, fried chicken has suddenly become trendy. Lucky Fox is the place to go in Sheffield, with a ridiculous variety of fried chicken dishes. Even fried chicken and waffles with cinnamon butter! However, being the plant-based convert that I am, I have never tried the fried chicken. Instead, I fell head over heels for their breakfast fries. Two perfectly fried eggs on top of a deep dish filled with fries, drizzled with lots of ketchup. On one particular morning, when I might have had a bit of a headache from the night before, I had a side of halloumi too. Seriously the best restoring breakfast for the not-health conscious. It didn’t become one of my regular places but it hasn’t definitely fuelled my foodie imagination. I mean, fried chicken and waffles! I have to try that.
Every British food scene has to include at least several pubs. Even my small hometown has five just on the main street! Every true Brit has their favourite pub, the ‘local’ even if it isn’t all that local. Ours was the Red Deer, just round the corner from my friends’ flat. A proper academics pub down a side street, my parents were highly suspicious when they visited but on stepping inside also fell in love with it. Admittedly for this cider drinker, Sheffield pubs aren’t great. A lot of craft beer but not a lot of cider beyond big names. However, when they serve a good selection of wines, Old Rosie cider, various gins and mixers, and mulled drinks in winter, a beer-bias can be forgiven. But let’s be honest, a good pub is not just about the drinks. It’s about the people. And there the Red Deer excelled. From post-seminar pints to celebratory wine nights, I spent so much time laughing and chatting in that pub. Like I said, it was our local.
Ahhhh, falafel. It really is the King of fast food for vegans. The only problem is that sometimes it can be a little bit bland. All chickpea but not oomph. This is so not the case at Falafel King! I was introduced to this gem during the winter semester. At first sight, it seems unremarkable and even a little cheap. And then you reach the front to order your falafel. Would you like regularly falafel, or with halloumi, aubergine or green pepper? They all come with hummus but which salads do you want in your wrap? And how many sauces to top it all of? Seriously, those falafels are personalised more than any other takeaway I know. But more than that, they taste amazing! A full meal in and of itself, each falafel wrap has clearly been made with love as well as speed (I never waited more than 10 minutes). I was singing their praises to everyone I thought would be interested. I can’t explain quite how much I love Falafel King but it is possibly my second favourite part of Sheffield’s food scene.
Inspired by New Zealand’s coffee culture, Tamper Coffee has two locations in Sheffield. If I’m honest, they couldn’t be more different. While Westfield Terrace is okay, the reality is that its a little cramped with low natural light. The pastries and toasties are fab and the coffee selection is great but overall not my kind of place. It was the Seller’s Wheel Tamper that saved them. Huge, light, airy and with an outdoor space, Seller’s Wheel is the kind of coffee shop and cafe that hipsters dream of. The breakfast I had was amazing! Avocado, poached egg, halloumi, pesto, hummus, tomatoes, broccoli, and toasted buckwheat! Literally the most restoring thing ever. Paired with a milky chai (NOT a chai latte), it put Tamper back in my good books.
Are you looking for somewhere to celebrate? Or maybe you just like Mediterranean food and wine. Ego on a Monday night is the perfect place to celebrate with friends and good food. The fact that two courses and a bottle of wine each for £20 might have had something to do with that. But wine or no wine, there is nothing to whine about (couldn’t help it) when it comes to the menu. One of the fullest menus I’ve seen outside of Wetherspoons, it is all cooked to perfection. No skimping on quality either. The best part was that my vegetarian friends actually had a choice! And it didn’t all involve mushrooms and goats cheese. Plus the chorizo, lamb shanks, mussels and various other dishes I tried there were al delicious. Next time you’re in Sheffield on a Monday, go check it out. You will not regret it!
If there is one thing that Sheffield’s food scene excels in, it is the multiple places you can go for brunch. I’ve been three times now and never disappointed by the food. Though I was prompted to leave with a friend once as they were super busy, I would still go again and again. The one that really sticks out was pancakes with compote, streusel and ice cream. For brunch! The food is all local too and you can see the influence in the menu. They even have a Duke’s Breakfast, referring to the Duke of Devonshire’s nearby residents at Chatsworth House. Plus, Marmadukes is right in the middle of town so perfect for a pre-shopping brunch with your girlfriends. So whether you’re just looking for an excuse to have ice cream for breakfast or a catch up with your nearest and dearest, check out Marmadukes.
The Gem of the Sheffield Food Scene: Forum
The final entry on this list and the reason why I really and truly love Sheffield’s food scene. Forum sits next to Devonshire Green and is almost always filled with people. A restaurant, bar and pizza place, Forum is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails. This is one hardworking foodie heaven to be open from dawn till dusk. Well, maybe not dawn but at least before 9am, which is still early.
The question is what to eat. Maybe the best nachos in the world? Or how about a breakfast burrito with fried onion and chilli? My personal favourites were the Korean pork burrito and the shaved bulgogi beef. Perfectly seasoned fries, tender meat, and veg cooked to perfection. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that the Forum offers several different mojito flavours for the rum and lime lover in all of us.
What was about Forum that made it stand out? It was just everything. From the huge food variety through to amazing atmosphere that always felt like a party was happening every evening, it was just a great place. But most of all, it was the place in Sheffield that spoke to my soul. That place where I was able to go for a solo lunch treat to read and work without worrying I looked like a loner.
As for the Sheffield food scene… it stole my heart 100%. I haven’t mentioned every place I loved because there are just too many to mention. From the Blue Mood Cafe to the Nottingham House, Sheffield is full of tiny independent places to eat delicious food and chill out with your friends. Not to mention that they outnumber the chains! But the best part of eating in Sheffield is the atmosphere. It doesn’t matter where you eat, you are always made to feel welcome as if you’re a regular. Plus, the variety of places is crazy.
So basically, I adore Sheffield’s food scene. I hope this post has given you an idea of the best places to eat. If that doesn’t inspire you to visit Sheffield, you’re clearly not a foodie 😃
The post One Year, One City, All the Food || Why Sheffield’s Food Scene Stole My Heart first appeared on CounterCultural. CounterCouture.