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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Tamper Coffee

June 14, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Posted in Cafe | 3 Comments
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One thing that was sorely missing from the Sheffield food and drink scene until recently, was a proper gourmet coffee shop. So, we were delighted when we heard about Tamper Coffee, a new cafe specializing in coffee and cakes, and since our first visit we’ve been completely hooked on its charms. Tamper Coffee is somewhat tucked away on Westfield Terrace, but it’s well worth hunting out.

Be prepared for a warm welcome when you step inside Tamper Coffee. This is the sort of place where the staff recognize you after the first few visits – a rare phenomenon in this age of coffee shop corporations.

Our party kicked off a very sophisticated afternoon with coffees all around. Lovingly brewing coffee from scratch takes time but with table service on offer this is no big deal – and the coffee is worth the wait. The lattes (£2.20) were served in cute glass cups on black saucers (a very funky combination I’m now going to use when I’m trying to impress house guests!) To top it off, Tamper Coffee sketch a little picture in the frothed milk of every latte. You don’t get service like that in Starbucks!

Just as we’d finished coo-ing over our drawings (the team member who ended up with the bunny rabbit was particularly impressed) our Tamper Coffee cappuccinos (£2.20) arrived, topped with a generous sprinkling of chocolate powder.

On their website, Tamper Coffee boast the tagline “serving only the best and freshest coffee in Sheffield.” A bold claim, but one that’s difficult to dispute. Made with Our Cow Molly milk and locally-roasted beans, it bears absolutely no resemblance to the brown stuff you find at the big-buck coffee chains. Coffee lovers, Tamper is your dream come true. Quite simply, it’s the best coffee I’ve ever tasted.

Not content with serving the best cuppa in town, Tamper Coffee’s menu stretches to a selection of sarnies, cakes and breakfast items. Our table ordered two smoked salmon, cream cheese and rocket bagels (£3.80 each) which were served on rustic wooden boards. Starving, my face fell at the size of the meal, but it was all an optical illusion: the smooth cheese, tangy smoked salmon and deceptively filling bagel left me stuffed.

Although I turned down dessert, not everyone could resist and a couple of date scones (£1.80 each) found their way to our table. Tamper Coffee’s date scone is a lumpy, homemade-looking sweet treat that tastes every bit as fresh as it looks. It came with tasty raspberry jam and butter, although it’s laced with so many plump dates it can be enjoyed on its own.

So, the best cuppa in town, fantastic food, homemade cakes, reasonable prices and friendly staff – but being the best in the business comes at a cost: Tamper Coffee was absolutely rammed when we visited over the weekend. Although they have just opened an extension with a few extra tables, we struggled to find enough seats for our party, and the waiting time for food was the longest I’ve ever experienced in a cafe. In fact, one of our meals (a ham and cheese croissant priced at £3.00) got lost in the rush of orders, and by the time it was remembered we had to leave. Tamper Coffee is a real gem of a coffee shop that deserves to do well, and it’s always exciting to see a homely, independent place thriving, but on that particular day I couldn’t help wishing it wasn’t quite so busy.

Tamper Coffee is the perfect antidote to the coffee chains that have dominated our high streets for far too long. It’s a small, friendly and independent gem that deserves your custom. Be prepared to wait far longer than you would for a Starbucks, but be prepared to forgive them for it when the best coffee in Sheffield arrives at your table (although it might be worth keeping a closer eye on your food order than us!)

If you like fresh coffee and yummy cakes in a vibrant, local and friendly venue (and really, who doesn’t?) then what are you waiting for?

ASK

June 3, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Remember that heatwave/summer we had last week, before the Curse of the Bank Holiday kicked in and plunged us back into 24-7 drizzle? During one of those rare evenings where you don’t need waterproofs just to go into town, we headed out in search of that old classic: italian grub. Sheffield has no shortage of fine italian restaurants, and in the end we settled on ASK.

Located on Cambridge Street, ASK has some stiff competition from Leopold Square – so how does it stack up against neighbours Zizzi and Strada? Well, unlike the Leopold Square crew, ASK lacks outdoor space, which is only going to be a problem during nice weather. Unfortunately, this was one of the 5 days a year where being outdoors doesn’t require full winter gear. Even though the ASK staff had thrown all the windows open, it was still a few degrees above comfortable inside.

Temperature gripes aside, ASK’s big, gleaming open plan interior has a cafeteria feel to it, that doesn’t set the ‘italian restaurant’ mood. Thankfully, ASK makes up for this when it comes to its eye for detail: the wine comes in stylish, gleaming glass carafes and the water jugs have polo-style hand-holes set into the glass.

Still a little too warm for comfort, we downed glasses of water while examining the menu. ASK serves the usual crowd-pleasing mix of pasta dishes, pizzas and seafood, all mixed up with plenty of those italian staples: cheese, tomato and herbs. We ordered our meals and switched from water to a carafe of white wine (£10.15 for the chardonnay) while we waited for our food to arrive.

First to appear was a helping of risotto gamberoni (£12.45). The risotto sauce was creamy and layered with tomatoes, prawns and refreshing shredded courgette. The courgettes and rings of red chili were perfect additions; the freshness of the courgette and the fiery kick of the chilis prevented the thick sauce from becoming overpowering.

Despite some interesting flavours thanks to the chili and the courgette, I was wondering why a rice dish demanded such a hefty price tag – until I tucked into the single shell-on king prawn that came with the risotto. The king prawn meat was as fresh and tangy as sushi, and cooked to juicy perfection. Although I only managed to scrape a few forkfuls of prawn meat from the shell, the price tag suddenly made sense. If I’d been served a plateful of nothing but those king prawns, I’d have gone home raving about ASK.

Also shipped to our table, was a Stromboli pizza (£8.95) The pizza arrived rustic-style, on a chopping board with an extra helping of chilis, as requested. Despite the sprinkling of chili peppers, the pizza still lacked a kick and there were complaints of it being too salty.

Finally, we were treated to the ravioli marittimo (£10.35). The pasta parcels were jam packed with a creamy mish-mash of seafood: crayfish, crab and salmon, to be precise. Like the rest of our ASK meals, the portion sizes seemed disappointing at first glance, but it’s the sheer richness of the food that leaves you stuffed. Topped with a herby tomato sauce and a few prawns, the ravioli completely finished our reviewer off.

However, we had one major gripe with ASK, and that’s how quickly the food arrived. While speediness is usually a good thing for rumbling tums, it meant we’d ordered and finished our food in under twenty minutes. Paying nearly £13 for a risotto that’s ready in ten minutes leaves you feeling cheated.

To stretch out our evening, we felt compelled to order a round of hot drinks and some puddings. Just like the carafes and quirky water jugs, our lattes (£2.15 each) arrived in style. Served in neat glass mugs with silver handles and white saucers, the presentation was faultless. Meanwhile, the honeycomb cheesecake hit the spot, although at £5.25 it was rather pricey for just one slice.

Our experience at ASK was a bit of a mixed bag. They certainly know their way around seafood, but the prices are a bit on the steep side, especially for food that arrives in under ten minutes. If you want to make an evening out of ASK, be prepared to shell out for plenty of extras. We were left stuffed, but with the nagging feeling that our evening out was over too quickly.

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