Upper-crust tastes for Sheffield

Marmadukes Cafe and Deli   Clare and Emily Nye
Marmadukes Cafe and Deli Clare and Emily Nye

A DAY before tackling the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge for St Luke’s Hospice with some colleagues from The Star and time for a bit of lunchtime carb loading...

And classy carbs they were, too, from Marmadukes Café Deli on Norfolk Row in the city centre, opposite St Marie’s Cathedral.

This place has taken over the premises of coffee shop 22a which has called it a day. Marmaduke’s is targeting the same daytime customers but it is a more upmarket affair.

It’s a family-run affair and the brainchild of Clare Nye.

Clare had a place in Bakewell, where she lives, called Relish, which she sold six years ago.

She described that as “like a mini Pret a Manger” but she moved on to concentrating on her work as in marketing and consultancy.

She has a degree in nutrition and dietetics and used her experience in the food industry to work with restaurants.

Her husband Tim retired as a police detective last September and they have been looking out for the right premises to start up their own place again. They went for 22a because they love the location and the ambience of the area and buildings.

Marmaduke’s had only been open for a week when I visited but Clare said that business had already been brisk andshe’s already looking to open another Marmadukes in Bakewell as well.

Her ambitions also extend to doing bistro nights in the near future and she means business as she has taken on Matt Duggan Jones from the Wig and Pen to run the kitchen.

Clare’s consultancy work takes her to London, hence the Neal’s Yard cheeses and Monmouth coffee on the menu.

The coffee comes from the London foodies’ heaven of Borough Market.

Barista Matt van Elkan looks after that side of the business.

I had two cups of Americano and it is very good indeed. Matt recommends it in cappuccino.

As far as possible, other supplies are sourced more locally, including the delicious Welbeck bread, Catherine’s Choice relishes, Cheshire Smokehouse charcuterie and Oldecote eggs.

As you walk in, the deli counter is straight ahead, with appetising displays of sandwiches and salads. There is a menu on the table, plus some specials displayed at the counter, and you order and pay at the till, then someone brings the food.

You need to watch out, though, because the servers lack a little experience and your food may go to the wrong table, but those teething troubles can soon be ironed out.

Around the corner are the main seating areas and there are still tables outside.

The decor is made from reclaimed and recycled materials – old scaffold boards have been used for wood panelling – and cutlery has been used for wall hooks. There’s a retro look to the black plaited wires used in the lighting and the overall feel is a bit like a beach hut with a little touch of New England thrown in .

My workmate Tim and I decided to share what we ordered and we went for one choice from the menu and one from the specials.

The café is open for breakfast and choices include toast, croissants, porridge, sausage or bacon butties, scrambled eggs on sourdough bread or French toast with creme fraiche and seasonal fruit.

Prices range from £1.80 to £4.50.

Lunchtime offerings include chef Matt’s soups and quiches, cheese or charcuterie platters, potted smoked mackerel pate and various sandwiches and salads of the day.

Prices go from £4.50 to £8.95.

We decided to split two dishes and tried a hot chorizo and manchego cheese sandwich with chips from the menu and chose a fontina cheese and tomato sandwich with tortilla chips and mayonnaise, chosen from the counter.

The food was artfully presented on trendy wooden boards and the amount of effort that has gone into sourcing the ingredients really shows through.

I think that the chorizo actually comes from the Brindisa Spanish food shop at Borough Market and it was married excellently with the Spanish cheese, sweet and spicy piquante red peppers (like the Peppadew ones you can buy in jars) and rocket.

The Welbeck Italian ciabbatta-style bread was good warm but the crust was marginally too crunchy. The chips were great, with the skin still on, and the mixed salad was good.

The fontina sandwich on lovely open-textured bread was excellent, as were the accompanying tortilla chips and mayonnaise. We also liked the fact that it was wrapped up in paper and string.

Cakes are baked on the premises and there are plans to do some patisserie.

The cakes are temptingly arrayed at the side of the counter and I went for the classic Austrian sachertorte. It was gorgeous, moist chocolatey sponge encased in a crisp dark chocolate coating with tiny pieces of alpine strawberry on top. There was also a good hit of apricot jam used in the cake’s construction.

Tim tried the warm tonka bean cake with mascarpone cream, even though he was disappointed to learn that the name referred to a type of fragrant vanilla-like bean and not the “real tough toys for real tough boys” of his childhood.

He thought the cake packed a powerful punch of vanilla, almonds, cinnamon and cloves.

Our bill came to £27.35 in total, although I suspect now that we may have been accidentally undercharged.

And my visit set me up well for the 24-mile slog with colleagues from The Star. We all got round and are proud to have raised more than £1,500 for St Luke’s. To make a donation, go to http://www.justgiving.com/StarTrek1.

lVerdict: a classy addition to the city’s lunchtime trade. Save room for cake.

lOpen: 7.45am to 5.15pm daily.

lMarmadukes Café Deli, 22a Norfolk Row, Sheffield city centre. 0114 276 7462.