A veggie café in the shadow of Sheffield Cathedral proves that good food doesn’t always come with a side serving of hyperbole.
In the age of gastronomy there are few places that couldn’t care less for fashion, food bloggers and reviews. And the ones that don’t – well, they’re usually summed up in two words. Fast. Food. But bucking the greasy spoon trend are quiet cafés that don’t need plaudits to be popular, with Sheffield’s Blue Moon Café among them.
This no-fuss little café, within eyesight of Sheffield Cathedral, may have been peddling seasonal and sustainable food long before Simon Rogan got his Michelin chops – but here it’s the real deal. This is an old-school veggie café that’s as popular with students as it is new mothers (bring your own baby food, but make it meat-free), and which has the broadest demographic we’ve seen in an eatery in a good long while. And the reason for that is simple: this is hearty, inexpensive food, piled high and as appealing to a burly builder hankering after a doorstop sarnie as it is to a woman wearing architectural glasses, there to meet a friend to discuss the future of digital publishing.
There are no airs. There are no graces. It’s the sort of place I once mourned the loss of.
As for the food: bowls of wholesome soup (£3.70), demonstrating a brilliance and depth of flavour I am incapable of replicating at home, are served with slices of what appears to be homemade bread. Homity pie sounds humble at £2.45 but comes with an optional selection of whacking great salads – six of ‘em – for just shy of seven quid. These are the sorts of salad that look healthy, and probably are, but they’re also fatly dressed and filling. If you ever had the pleasure of the Everyman Bistro in the 1990s, you’ll know the kind of food I mean – the sort that’s as far removed from the limp, watery filler that adorns supermarket salad bars as roast parsnips are from a McDonald’s french fry.
Elsewhere, homemade flans, cheesy gratin, and an aubergine and green pepper curry all make an appearance, as do scones and cakes, while the Blue Moon is licensed, making it possible to chase up any of the above with a Kelham Island Pale Rider.
The Blue Moon is housed inside a former auction house, its ornate ceilings and high windows casting a grand kind of light across the stripped floors and basic furniture. Two walls are given over to noticeboards; they groan beneath the flapping weight of adverts for yoga classes and rooms to let. Above, four clocks keep time – in the cities of Doncaster, Rotherham, Barnsley and, of course, Sheffield. There’s an exhibition on the walls, and there’s free wifi. But there are no airs. There are no graces. It’s the sort of place I frequented as an earnest student, and the sort of place I once mourned the loss of, before I met that friend to discuss the future of digital publishing. While the jury’s still out on the latter, the Blue Moon’s future appears much more assured.