They say the third time’s a charm – and after our latest visit to 631 Ecclesall Road, I am inclined to agree.
Readers may know this was the very short-lived home of The Cat’s Pyjamas, which opened and closed in just a few months.
Those with longer memories will recall prior to that it was Prezzo, which lasted longer but was a standard Italian chain offering standard Italian fare.
Mowgli Street Food now aims to shake things up a bit.
The brand has nine sites across the country – a tenth is due – and aims to offer fresh and intense street food dishes like those Indians eat at home.
The restaurant has been given a much-needed rearrangement inside, it feels intimate with industrial touches, and the swing seats hanging in the window are fun. They, or the promise of on-trend street food, are such a draw in S11 we had to book a week in advance.
General manager Kate Bower said the response had been “amazing.”
“Nisha Katona, our founder, CEO and the woman behind all our recipes opens sits where she has a connection to the location” said Kate, who lives in Sheffield.
“Her auntie lives in Sheffield so she spent a lot of her childhood here, and one of the recipes, our Aunty Geeta’s prawn curry, was created by her. “Sheffield is really up and coming for its food at the moment so it is a good place for us to be.”
Our waiter at Mowgli was chatty without being too familiar, and explained how the menu worked. He urged us to think of it like tapas, but with Indian street food, and to order more than one curry (he was right.)
A last minute addition of yoghurt chaat bombs (£4.95) arrived first, and was a riot of colour, texture and flavour. Tiny bread puffs were filled with creamy spiced yoghurt, coriander and sharp tamarind and crunchy chickpeas, all combining beautifully. They were gone too soon.
“Try to eat them all in one go, or you’ll be wearing them”, said the waiter, and again he was right.
Treacle tamarind fries were more like diced potatoes than chips, but the slick and sticky-sour coating worked a treat on the fried cubes, elevating them. I ate as much as I could, but there were too many to finish.
Not a problem he found with the gunpowder chicken (£6.50). The street meat favourite had all the flavours of India, garlic, ginger, garam masala, wrapped into an irregularly shaped, crispy package.
There is an entire vegan menu at Mowgli – and a gluten free one – chiming with the dietary preferences of many in India so we had to try one meat-free option.
The green ginger and rhubarb dahl was a sweet, comforting version of the classic lentil dish, and there was certainly plenty of warming ginger and cumin. Try as I might, I could not find any taste or scent of rhubarb.
Our curries arrived in neat silver pots, and for £16 you can have an office worker’s tiffin box with four tiers chosen by chef. Tempting.
The house lamb curry was a highlight. A rich and intense sauce with hints of fruit contained oh-so-tender chunks of slow cooked lamb, I lapped it up. Goan fish curry was a world apart on the same table, with a fiery, chilli-packed flavour dominating the soft fillets of fish.
His house keema lamb was packed with layers of spices and mopped up with roti bread.
Mowgli passed the return test and is somewhere you could enjoy a feast of riches, or just one dish. The staff say the aim is to be open to all, whether you are wearing trainers, plant-based, bringing a dog or dressed up to the nines, and we certainly felt welcome.
Our bill came to £62.60.
Mowgli Street Food, 631 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield
Tel: 01142 266 0069