I have been in Sheffield eating like a lord, and also like a Sheffielder, which in many ways is same thing.
I think I grew up in Sheffield at a very bad time for British food. A previous generation would happily have eaten rabbit, pigeon, pigs’ trotters, maybe even venison if they were able to get it. A later generation grew up watching fancy chefs on tv and "experimenting" with kiwi fruit. But I grew up in the days when a mother could think she was doing right by her family when she served frozen fish fillets, and steak and kidney pie out of a tin.
Consequently I don’t often get nostalgic for the food of my youth, but the roast pork sandwiches of Sheffield (and I know they’re found other places too) continue to haunt my taste buds. This is one I ate at the weekend from Beres Pork Sandwich Shop in the city centre.
Beres have been in business since 1961, which probably makes them newcomers in the world of the Sheffield pork sandwich – Funk’s of Hillsborough have been around since at least the 1890s.
And you know, I like the roast pork well enough, but I think it’s the extras that really move me: the stuffing, the apple sauce, the crackling, all of them present in the sandwich above. The crackling is only “recommended for people with strong, healthy teeth” – it says so on the bag.
It surely comes as no surprise that Sheffield is the home of a good meat pie, and so no huge surprise that there’s a restaurant on Division Street called Pieminister – part of a small chain that was actually founded in Bristol. We tried going there at about 9 o clock on Saturday night, but were told they’d sold out of everything except mashed potato, which was surely a good sign, so we returned the next night.
The two pies you see in the picture above are the Moo – “British Beef Steak and Craft Ale,” and the Deerstalker – “Wild British Venison, Bacon, Red Wine and Green Lentil.” Gotta say I didn’t notice the green lentil, but you tend not to when there’s venison around.
I don’t suppose hotdogs are especially local to Sheffield. I occasionally had one as a kid, but it wasn’t a meal, just something you ate when you were at the seaside or at a fun fair, kind of like candy floss. But after eating hotdogs in Chicago last month it was impossible to resist the “Bulldog” on the menu at the Fox and Duck in Fulwood Road, Broomhill, a pub that calls itself “a lively boozer.” And no, I have never heard the word scran used in Sheffield or anywhere else.
The Bulldog was pretty decent, and the things on the top that look like wood shavings are in fact “grilled and crispy onions" sitting right on top of the raw onions.
There was also deep fried and breaded haggis with tandoori ketchup (fusion cuisine, we got it!). It looked like this and was “interesting” though I don’t think it would satisfy many true haggis fans:
Need I say that Japanese food didn’t feature in my family’s cuisine, or anybody else’s at the time I was growing up in Sheffield. Just a few years back, as my Japanophilia was taking hold, I tried to find a Japanese eatery in Sheffield and could only locate one, which from the reviews sounded very dodgy indeed, so I didn’t eat there. But now Sheffield has a significant Asian population, not many of them Japanese I’d have thought, but even so these days you can find 15 or more Japanese restaurants in town.
We settled for the Mr Miyagi Revolving Sushi Bar, again on Division Street, just a pie or gyoza’s throw from Pieminister. Of course like many other restaurants that describe themselves as revolving, the restaurant itself doesn’t rotate, but there’s a circulating conveyor belt that delivers the food. In this case the empty belt continued to move at eye level, even as the food came via a waitress.
Above is a Classic Sashimi Set, and two Oyster sashimi – which were as good as you could get most places, and more than you could once possibly have hoped for in Sheffield or within a few thousand miles of it.