CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Previous Coffee Columns >> Barrett's@235
I am always excited when a new coffee cafe opens on my side of Sheffield. I would be excited beyond belief if one ever opened in sleepy Walkley, where I live, but since I'm close to the border of Crookes -- a CrookesEnder, as I like to call us -- I'm perfectly happy when a new coffee prospect opens in Crookes.
So I was looking forward to checking out Barrett's@235. Andrew and our friend Mike had the chance a couple of weeks ago to try a coffee here, and they both gave me a good report. All the better, I thought. So in the first week of the New Year, after I'd returned rather glumly to my university job after the short break, I decided to try Barrett's on my way to work.
Opened by James and Katie Barrett, the cafe is located on the corner of Toftwood Road across from the Punchbowl pub and Zara's Indian Restaurant. It was a quiet Thursday morning and the only customers besides myself were a rather somber couple finishing their pot of tea.
As I'd forgotten not to have my usual second double cappuccino at home I veered from my usual order and asked for a single macchiato so I wouldn't start vibrating in a caffeine frenzy so early in the day. My macchiato was perfectly presented, with a lovely crema capped with the right amount of milk foam and served in a white tulip-shaped cup with demitasse spoon. (That spoon is so important.) At £1.60 it cost a bit more than I'm used to for a single macchiato, but I kept an open mind. The coffee is from Grand Milano, a self-described "youthful" coffee company established in 2007 as a part of the Miko group that grew out of the much more senior Michielsen Koffie of Milan. My coffee was very smooth and showed a lot of promise, but sadly it was too weak. I assume that would have been a result of it being ground too coarsely, an insufficient amount of beans in the shot, or too weak a hand with the tampering. Whatever the reason, live and learn; next time I'll definitely go for a double shot.
The cafe is very small, with the large preparation area creating an L-shaped customer area. Sitting in one of the legs of the L made it impossible to see into the other leg, so I spent a good deal of my visit wandering about the cafe on foot. The food menu is impressive and attractive to both meat lovers and vegetarians. The mezze platter for £9.95 is a temptingly reasonable meal for two, with olives, pitta, haloumi, houmus, roasted red potato, and marinated vegetables. There's also an antipasto platter and a Ploughman's lunch platter. Sandwiches include barbecued beef, spicy chicken club, and some inspired vegetarian combos -- haloumi, houmus, carrot and beetroot; artichoke, tomato, mozzarella and leaf; and sun blushed tomato, pesto, and cheddar -- all made on a choice of fresh breads from the Bakewell Pudding Shop bakery, and all only £2.80 if you take them away. (I always get excited when I see haloumi on a menu.) The £5.00 salads are also equally inspired, and there are other yummy specials such as quesadillas, smoked peppered mackerel salad, a soft poached duck egg, and Welsh rarebit. The sandwich board outside offers "supper bowls" served in the evening as well as the full menu. The Christmas lunch and dinner menus were still posted on the wall and featured everything you'd expect.
On a side shelf were bags of Cauldwell's Mill Supreme Muesli made in Rowsley near Matlock in Derbyshire and which features 14 ingredients; these were for sale at £4.75. On the window sill near me I could see pretty arty little gardening tools, locally produced flavoured olive oils, cakes, and cordials, as well as bags of bread flour, presumably also from Cauldwell's Mill. And there were jams and chutneys branded "From Me And My Mum" in another shelf section.
Aside from a handful of little tables there are three different window counters with stools, including one all by itself with only one stool for the antisocial hermit who wishes to be isolated from the rest of the cafe patrons and have their own private view of the patrons exiting the tattoo and piercing parlour opposite.
The cafe also offers freshly baked scones, cakes, and breads made by Nick Wilkies of the nearby St Luke's Hospice. So I'm definitely tempted to come back for lunch and a double macchiato, if I can ever remember to.
Speaking of remembering -- or, more accurately, forgetting things -- reminds me of a recent Facebook posting after I inexplicably lost my valued Polaroid sunglasses and suede gloves at some point over Christmas and Boxing Day: