A new bright blue building sticks out among the long, mostly red bricked corridor of restaurants and shops on Ecclesall Road. Amaro Lounge has arrived on one of Sheffield’s most popular roads and it’s doing things a bit differently.
The concept for Lounges was launched by three pals from Bristol who wanted to escape the often too corporate world of hospitality and start something of their own.
Although that homegrown idea has spread across the country - there are now more than 100 different Lounges in the UK - they seem to have captured the original spirit in Sheffield.
Inside absolutely nothing matched but it worked. Every colourful chair, table, picture and mirror were different and it created a fun atmosphere that gave a sense of belonging without fitting to any rule or type.
“All the lounges are the same but different and each has its own individuality which is good,” Grace Parker, general manager, said.
“We’re still figuring out what our special character is but we went around a lot of the local shops before opening and the welcome we got was really quite special and lovely - they said if we ever need anything they would help.
“What makes lounges different is we reach out to a variety of people so that’s why we are quite quirky. You can come in just for a coffee, have something to eat, drink or it can be used as a bar, we have knitting groups, mothers meetings and gamers, we reach out to anyone and everyone - we want to bring communities together.”
They opened at the start of March and Grace said business has blossomed since then.
“It’s been a nice, slow pick up with lots of interest and curiosity, a lot of people peering in and wondering what we’re all about.”
Amaro also offers a more social way of dining with board games, a book swap and child’s play area and they are proudly dog-friendly too.
From what my friend and I could see on a Saturday morning, it was all working well with a steady amount of happy customers. Grace said Sundays are their busiest days.
The music was good to boot, with classics from Bruce Springsteen, Steve Miller Band and The Beach Boys thrown into the mix, which got my friend and I singing along.
The menu was large with lots to choose from. We were impressed by the number of vegan and gluten free options - so many they were listed on a separate menu.
Plates included some familiar favourites like fish finger sandwiches (which I imagine go down well with students living on the road), four different types of mac and cheese, eight different types of burger and tapas - which Grace said is their most popular option that people “go crazy for”. They are also planning to launch a specials menu in the future.
I was drawn to the all-day brunch options, chorizo and halloumi hash sounded particularly good as did the diner brunch - buttermilk pancakes, bacon, maple syrup, mini hash browns and fried eggs - but was swayed in the end by the New York steak sandwich.
The sandwich was quite basic but good, the steak was tender and tasty with Emmental cheese. But the real star was the Lotus Biscoff cheesecake I chose for dessert, possibly the best I’ve ever had. The biscuit base was soft and finely crumbled, made with the warm spices of Lotus biscuits, the filling was velvety and made even lighter by a cloud of whipped cream on top - it came in a good sized portion too. I also tried the homemade sherbert lemonade which was zingy and refreshing.
My friend had the vegan breakfast, churros and fresh orange juice which she said was great. The breakfast was packed and came with falafel, vegan bacon, hash browns, baked beans, slow-roasted tomato, button mushrooms, spinach, wood-roasted peppers and toast. The churros came with chocolate and caramel dipping sauces.
Although we visited on a weekend, various offers and deals are available throughout weekdays including free drink or dessert with a main after 5pm and three tapas and a glass of wine for £10.50 on Tuesdays if you go later than 5pm.
Staff were friendly and made us feel at home, Grace said it was also a really supportive place to work.
“Their belief is that if my team are looked after the customers will be looked after. It’s quite refreshing really, coming into a hospitality place that genuinely cares about the people who work for them. Everyone enjoys coming to work, it’s like a second home for lots of the team.”
Overall, there were plenty of options for a wide range of dietary requirements at a good price but the colourful vibe and inclusive atmosphere made it special.
The bill came to a total of £47.70 for two meals, two deserts and four drinks.