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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Nosh

August 19, 2012 at 9:20 am | Posted in Cafe | Leave a comment
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As someone who enjoys whiling away Sunday morning in a coffee shop, it’s currently one of my biggest bugbears that Tamper Coffee doesn’t open on a Sunday (waaaaah!) The upside is that we’re always trying out new places for our little Sunday morning coffee club, which is how we discovered Nosh this week.

Located as central-as-they-come on Division Street, Nosh is a bright, pleasant and cheap-as-chips purveyor of hot drinks and assorted snacks. We placed our order at the till, where we were served by a very pleasant waitress who, rather than rushing through our order, took the time to exchange a few pleasantries with us – a surefire way to make new customers feel positive about a place.

We slipped into one of several surprisingly private booths and awaited our food and drinks. We were caught out by the fact that there wasn’t table service for hot drinks, and quickly returned to the counter for the liquid part of our order. There was also something a bit budget-hotel about the plastic tubs of sugar sachets and other condiments on the table, but these niggles were soon forgotten when we tucked into our hot drinks and snacks.

First up, was a bargain £1.95 latte which came nicely presented in a tall glass. Although the Our Cow Molly milk is sorely missing (Tamper, you’ve spoiled us!) this is still a cut above most big chains.

My hot chocolate was rich and indulgent without being sickly, even the dregs at the bottom were delicious rather than silty with undissolved chocolate powder. The drink was finished off with (un)healthy lashings of yummy chocolate powder. At £2.19 this treat is an absolute steal.

But that wasn’t the biggest bargain of the morning: the bacon, egg and cheese muffin we ordered came in at a pocket-friendly £1.60. A little dubious about this cheapie breakfast, we were pleasantly surprised by what showed up: a freshly-cooked, no-frills treat of tasty bacon, perfectly-cooked egg and a large slice of cheese. Grease-free and obviously pulled straight off the grill, our reviewer raved about the taste, the freshness and, of course, the price.

A large americano (£2.10) to wash down the muffin equalled one very happy camper.

Nosh is a cheap and cheerful place, set in bright, clean surroundings – they may pedal bargain butties, but there’s nothing ‘greasy spoon’ about them. Nosh serve a decent, Fairtrade cuppa (at this point, it goes without saying you can get better coffee elsewhere in the city) but it’s the no-frills food where they really excel. Do yourself a favour, and treat yourself to a budget-friendly breakfast sarnie while you’re there. If you’re on a tight schedule and/or a tight budget, quick, pleasant and pocket-friendly Nosh is the way to go.

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