Couple’s cafe society

pictured at the Harland Cafe John Street 'Steve Sara Bradley
pictured at the Harland Cafe John Street 'Steve Sara Bradley
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A CHANCE discovery led a couple to go into business together to run a Sheffield cafe. Steve Bradley, whose work in the hospitality industry included early stints at Henry’s Café Bar, Hanrahan’s and the Beauchief Hotel, was made redundant in Christmsas 2010 and was looking for a job or a business opportunity.

His wife Sara said: “We’ve always sort of talked about going into business together. He rang me in the summer and said, ‘I’m sitting in this really amazing cafe; you’ll have to come and have a look at it. I really like the feel of the place’.”

That was Cafe Euro in the old Clifton Works buildings in John Street, between London Road and Bramall Lane, which was up for sale.

They decided to go for it and Sara said she suddenly found herself giving up her job of 20 years in the office at Sheffield University students’ union and quickly starting a very different life behind the counter.

They decided to change the name to Cafe Harland, which is the name of the old cutlery and toolmaking works next door because they didn’t fancy the name Clifton Cafe. They decided Cafe Euro was “a bit London Road”, said Sara, adding: “We should have it called it the Mid-Life Crisis Cafe!”

The change has paid off, said Sara, as it has attracted people to see what’s different.

Inside, the space is still very much like Cafe Euro, although there have been some changes and more are to come. The look is very plain with blonde wood floors and pale walls and a food counter and bar take up the back right-hand corner. To the left is a view out to the internal courtyard where there are some tables and chairs.

Blackboards behind the counter display the menu, which is also on the tables, and some daily specials, which are usually soups and quiches.

The menu includes breakfasts, various sandwiches and panninis, chips, the aforementioned soups and quiches and a children’s menu, plus a very tempting range of cakes on display at the counter.

Offers include free tea or coffee with a breakfast costing more than £2.50 before 10am and ‘worker’s special’ sandwiches for £2.95, or £3.50 with a drink. Cakes are £2.50 with a drink outside the main lunchtime of 12-2pm.

We visited on a Sunday, arriving just before noon, and so the menu was ideal for the dreaded word, brunch. In other words, some could go for lunch and some for breakfast.

I decided that a proper cooked breakfast (£3.95) was a must.

The vegetarian version is the same price and other prices for other choices range from £1.50 to £3. They include a bacon or sausage buttie, eggs or beans on toast, just toast or toasted fruit bread, croissants or pain au chocolate.

You can add bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, eggs etc for another 50p per item.

My friends Phil and Kate went for lunch. Kate is a big fan of the cafe and drops in regularly because she finds it has a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

Kate ordered a bacon, leek and cheese quiche with salad and chips and Phil had a bacon, brie and cranberry pannini (£3.50) and some spinach, pea and lemon soup (£3).

My breakfast was a good plateful with bacon and sausage supplied by Walkeley butcher Chris Beech, free-range fried egg, tinned chopped tomatoes and thick toast with the yellowest butter on I’ve ever seen.

It was all very well cooked and my only carp is with the mushrooms, which aren’t fresh, but they tasted fine.

Kate enjoyed her quiche, which she said was very tasty, and the chips were good too(I nicked one).

Phil liked the pannini, which he said was a lot moister than usual, and we all enjoyed trying the soup, which had distinctive flavours of both vegetables and a cleansing hit of lemon at the end. It wasn’t a combination I’d thought of but I might steal the idea now.

After a relaxing time chatting, we decided it was time for another cup of tea and I thought that we should try some cake, even though none of us was in the least hungry.

I was seriously tempted by a Guinness-flavoured chocolate cake and intrigued by the trifle cake – a sponge with a trifle-style filling and topping – but in the end went for a piece of cinnamon and apple layer cake.

This was lovely with a light sponge and slices of fresh apple on top of a cinnamon-flavoured buttercream topping and filling. It was a mighty slice and we couldn’t do justice to it, sadly.

The café was busy, later on filling up with climbers coming from The Edge indoor centre next door.

Sara and Steve are keen to make the place a social centre and hub and it’s worth checking out the website or Facebook page for upcoming events.

As reported on these pages last week, MP Paul Blomfield is speaking at the first of a monthly series of Café Culture meetings on Friday, February 10 on ‘what makes a GOOD society?’ and the café is also running half-term activities for both children and adults, with talks and craft and cooking sessions.

Our bill came to a bargain £19.25.

lVerdict: good food, good value, good atmosphere, good-hearted people.

lHarland Café, 72 John Street, Sheffield, S2 4QU. 0114 273 8553. www.harlandcafe.co.uk

lOpen Monday to Friday 8am-5pm, Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm.