Lesley Duffield fell in love with Scandinavian cuisine during frequent trips to Sweden for work.
At the time Lesley was working for an Anglo-Swedish company but after being made redundant dreams of a new career direction started to form.
In March she opened Scandinavian themed cafe Smorgas at the junction of Glossop Road and Clarkehouse Road.
Lesley said: “It is something completely different for me.
“I have been waiting for the opportunity to open a cafe, drawing on Nordic influences.
“When this space became available I jumped at the chance.”
Things didn’t get off to the best of starts for the fledgling business, with appalling weather in March and April hitting footfall hard.
But a change in the weather since the beginning of May has also brought a change in fortune for the cafe with business really starting to pick up.
Lesley explains that the ethos behind Smorgas is simplicity itself.
“We are aiming to keep things simple. That’s the Scandinavian way.
“Everything is about the quality.
“It is all about seasonality and the whole vibe is that people can come and take time over the food.
“Open sandwiches aren’t easy to eat quickly and on the go as normal sandwiches and that’s the point.
“Part of the ethos is about eating with your eyes and we present things in a way so they can see the food before they choose it.”
Lesley adds that the location of Smorgas makes for a varied mix of customer.
“A lot of people come over here from work for coffee or lunch breaks and people have work meetings here.
“We get people coming in who work or are using the hospital, we get students and we get quite a few Scandinavian expats.
“We are offering something that no where else in Sheffield is.
“The Scandinavians particularly appreciate the rye bread which is hard to get hold of.
“ I think the secret of our success is definitely being able to see the food before you buy it.”
The interior of the cafe is quite small but with the weather on the up customers are also able to make the most of the outdoor seating area.
Going forward Lesley is planning to build up the menu as she bids to put Smorgas firmly on Sheffield’s culinary map.
“We hope to soon offer Scandinavian waffles which are the flat, heart-shaped waffles.
“Longer term we’d like to have a licence and open in the evenings but that is a lot further down the line.
“What we have found is there is definitely a market for this sort of thing.”
On the evidence of my lunchtime visit to Smorgas, Lesley is definitely onto a winner.
The concept really is a simple and fun way of choosing what you want to eat.
Although there are menus on the tables the best way to pick what food you want is to go up to the counter and take a look at what’s available.
The open-faced sandwiches are all laid out for you to see, as well as the salads and a selection of cakes.
In order to get a proper taster for what is on offer at Smorgas I went for a selection of things.
I ordered the soup of the day (£3.50), an open-faced salami and Jarlsberg sandwich, a side salad of Nordic couscous and a soft drink.
After placing my order I found myself a seat and by this time the place was relatively busy.
My wait for the food was only a matter of minutes and my tactic was to attack the soup first before it went cold.
On the day of my visit the soup of the day was tomato and basil.
The soup was velvety in texture and had a great depth of flavour.
If anything, it was slightly more filling than I had perhaps bargained for, given that I still had a sandwich and salad to get through.
Salami and cheese are a great combo and are enhanced even further when dill pickles are added to the mix.
Rye bread isn’t my usual choice but on this occasion it added nice flavour and texture.
The Nordic salad, meanwhile, was nice and fresh and the zing of the apple helped cleanse the palate.
I thoroughly enjoyed my spread and although I probably shouldn’t have I decided I couldn’t resist a slab of cake to finish my lunch off.
Being in an adventurous mood I opted for a piece of Danish dreamcake (£2.50)
Dreamcake is a sponge cake encrusted with a coconut and brown sugar topping.
It was a new one on me and it completely won me over. So much, in fact that I plan to go in search of a recipe and recreate them at home.
All in all the whole lunch came to £12.50 which considering I had soup, sandwich, salad, cake and drink works out as really good value.
I left Smorgas not only with a a full stomach but also with a warm feeling.
This is a new business which is really making a go of it and giving Sheffield something a bit different - a taste of Scandinavia.
n Smorgas, 401 Glossop Road. Tel: 0114 327 1700.