The Common Room

February 3, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Over the years, I’ve had some good nights at the Common Room on Devonshire Street, but they’ve all been liquid-based – and to be honest, the menu had never given me that burning desire to order anything more substantial than booze. However, I recently found myself at the Common Room for a work’s do, stomach grumbling at the sight of my co-workers’ burgers, and wishing I’d ordered something for myself (rather just plundering the staff bar). After that, it was only a matter of time before I found myself at the Common Room again, this time with food in mind.

The Common Room is an enormous venue, with a definite sport’s obsession. Take a wrong turn at the bar, and you’ll find yourself in a warren of pool rooms. Sit, well, practically anywhere, and your eyes will naturally come to rest on one of the many television screens that line the walls (and those televisions are always showing – you guessed it, sport). The Common Room has a fantastic atmosphere when there’s a game on, and the sheer size of the place means you stand a chance at getting a seat, even when there’s something popular on the T.V screens.

In addition to the pool rooms, there’s an area around the bar that’s all about the comfy booths, and a separate dining area. The dining area is a contrast to the dark wooden beams and exposed brickwork of the rest of the Common Room; it’s bright, airy and has a canteen feel to it. One look at the menu, and this change of decor makes sense; the Common Room’s grub is pure American diner.

We took our seats in the dining area and were surprised when the waitress came over and requested a debit or credit card, which they kept behind the bar until we’d finished our meal. This isn’t a policy I’ve encountered in Sheffield before! After handing over a card, it was time to take a closer look at the menu. The Common Room is very loyal to its American diner theme, with a focus on burgers, chips, hot dogs, and ribs, not to mention a few nicely authentic touches, such as corn chips, cherry soda, and root beer. There’s also some really innovative sauces on offer that’ll please the adventurous eater – don’t worry, this isn’t a boring ‘chips and a burger’ place!

I opted for a veggie burger (£7.00), more for the accompaniments than anything else. The menu promised a burger filled with salsa, cheese, burger sauce, and a “green chili slaw” that I couldn’t wait to try. When my meal arrived, I was pleased to see they hadn’t been stingy with the slaw – I had an entire tin can full of the stuff, and the slaw itself looked chunky and homemade. There was also a decent portion of fries, served in a little blue and white jug.

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Despite the big portion of fries and slaw, the burger itself didn’t look particularly exciting. The single patty, one lettuce leaf and square slice of cheese, left the burger bun looking a bit sad and empty. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I started chowing down, the veggie patty was chunky and full of identifiable veggies (always better than vegetable mulch!); the square of cheese didn’t have the plastic taste I’d been dreading; and the salsa and burger sauce made this rather plain-looking burger really tasty!

When I finally got around to that rustic-looking slaw, it was every bit as yummy as I’d hoped. Those fresh, crunchy veggies in creamy sauce, turned my run-of-the-mill french fries into a treat, and I piled on the slaw enthusiastically. My only niggling disappointment, was that I’d expected anything called ‘chili slaw’ to pack a punch, and it wasn’t in the least bit spicy.

At the other end of the table, my dining companion decided to treat herself to some equally guilty grub: a feast of Bacon Fries (£4.95) and Starter Wings (£3.50).

Bacon fries are one of those so-wrong-it’s-right dishes; a celebration of everything that’s bad for you, in the form of french fries, piled high with bacon and cheese, and finished off with a winning trio of cheese sauce, baconnaise (that’s bacon flavoured mayo!) and BBQ sauce. When you wake up with a hangover, this is everything you crave, packed into one calorie-laden dish.

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The bacon was thick and grease-free, while the cheese had a good flavour to it, and the combination of cheese sauce and baconnaise sealed the deal. It was thumbs up for the bacon fries!

At £3.50, the Starter Wings turned out to be a value-for-money pile of chicken wings, which were dark and sticky with the Common Room’s Wild Turkey Bourbon glaze. There was even a bonus helping of sauce in the bottom of the bowl, which helped keep the chicken wings moist.

There’s enough interesting flourishes on the Common Room’s menu to lure you back for a repeat visit, and the place definitely has an artistic flair when it comes to sauces (scotch bonnet jam, or banana ketchup, anyone?) This may not be the place to go for a slap up meal, but sometimes you have a hunger that only big burgers, fries, and bacon-flavoured mayonnaise can satisfy.

If you’re in town and want something quick, filling, and a little bit naughty, the Common Room is worth a visit – as long as you’re not on a diet!

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