REVIEW: Heavenly spot to take a lunch break
It must be the grandest welcome to any cafÃ© in Sheffield - but then not many can boast a jaw-dropping stained glass window in the entrance.
Indeed, it is hard to believe that 1554 Coffee at Sheffield Cathedral opened less than a year ago, given its stunning location - it was one of the last three cathedrals in the country to cater to the nation’s obsession with hot drinks.
But its name harks back much, much further, to the year when new queen Mary Tudor granted a Royal charter that gave back confiscated lands and property to the burgesses of Sheffield.
Today, in a smaller fashion, the coffee shop gives pennies raised through the sale of cheese scones to the upkeep of the cathedral.
“It all goes back into the cathedral, towards the cost of upkeeping it, so it is a business but it is also about bringing people in to the cathedral”, said the coffee shop manager Ruth Maher.
“A lot of people who live in Sheffield have never been inside, but they come here to meet somebody for coffee and they just say ‘wow.’
“There is a certain amount of passing trade because of people coming to visit but now we have a lot of people using it as a meeting place and business people coming in for lunches.”
The coffee shop, formerly a redundant meeting room, has been transformed in keeping with the cathedral. It is light and bright, with cabinets of silver at the front, more jewel-hued stained glass enclosed at the back, and Scandinavian-style wooden chairs on tiled flooring. The curving cutlery was made in Sheffield and so too are items on the menu. With little room in house to craft elaborate dishes from scratch, some of the work is done by other local suppliers.
Snap Deli on Ecclesall Road provides an ever-changing range of savoury and sweet dishes, while the packed pork pies come from Wateralls butchers in the Moor Market.
And there surely can’t be a more aptly named supplier in the world than Heavenly Coffee...
Ruth added: “When we were looking for coffees we tasted many of them but Heavenly Coffee roasted us our own beans which are exclusive to us - and because of the name the idea of it being stocked at Sheffield Cathedral really worked.
“We are going to get Our Cow Molly ice cream in the summer as well, a lot of people like to sit outside the cathedral in the sunshine when it is warm and you can take all our food out.
“We like to stress that we are independent - some people think that we are a franchise - but this is all done by the cathedral, for the cathedral.”
It’s too chilly yet for al fresco dining but there were certainly plenty of people inside. We had tried to visit earlier in the week, but it had been busier than usual and there was little left just after 1pm.
This time we arrived almost on the dot of noon. Several small signs on the counter meant we missed the chowder and sandwiches options. So, to the pastry.
Our selections were warmed and brought to the table, cleared and then replaced by dessert ten minutes later - easy, excellent service.
My Parma ham and brie pizza was based around a crisp base and heaps of topping: rich tomato which added moisture, silky black olives, salty meat and creamy cheese scattered with herbs. An upgrade added four salad selections for a total cost of £5,95, from bold, peppery pesto pasta to a too creamy, full fat retro-style coleslaw. When the pizza was gone, the plate was still full. ‘They don’t skimp on salad’, said my colleague.
The star was, surprisingly, soft chickpeas in a well seasoned onion and tomato sauce, while the leafy greens were fresh.
Marisa’s miniature vegetarian quiche had a hidden base of caramelised onion chutney and spinach encased in sturdy pastry. There was more sweetness from the beetroot, but not overpoweringly so, and that brie. It looked small but proved filling - especially with the salad.
My brownie was the gluten free sweet of the day: catering for food sensitivities is well covered here. It was solid to cut into but moist inside, which is difficult to achieve with specialist baking, sticky and rich in the mouth.
Her cherry bakewell - one of many fruit-based puddings - has a crispy pastry case, gooey almond filling, thick glace icing - and real fruit. Another cherry on top was the bill - we paid £20.90 with bottled soft drinks.
1554 Coffee, Sheffield Cathedral, Church Street, Sheffield, S1 1HA.