CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Previous Coffee Columns >> Rude Shipyard
I was curious to try the relatively new Rude Shipyard for two reasons. The first reason is the Internet presence it seems to have, with plenty of online forums about Sheffield and/or coffee featuring rave reviews of the place. The other reason, of course, is the intriguing name. I have to admit that among all the unusually named cafes I've reviewed -- Gee Whiz, Cry Baby,
The actual name of the cafe over the door reads: "In the Rude Shipyard beneath my window..." I like the fact that the name ends in an ellipse. Then again, I like the fact that writers like bell hooks and e.e. cummings feel no need to capitalise their names, and that Harry S Truman's middle name was actually "S". And look at me: do I spell my name JC Mitchell with no dots after my initials to distinguish myself from my father, who was often known as J.C. Mitchell? Not really; I do it because I like it that way.
As I discovered once inside the cafe, the ellipse is there for a reason, because the name is the first line of a poem:
"In the rude shipyard beneath my window
Books tumble from ear to elbow.
An amalgamation of script and scran,
A living room where money changes hands."
The cafe is appropriately named because it's a tiny bit of mess, a cosy nest of chaos. Although there is seating upstairs, we stayed downstairs in the main room where we squeezed ourselves into the only two available seats. Wriggled into the chairs like rats through a keyhole, we realised we'd given up our basic human rights to legroom, as the table in front of us was actually two antique sewing machine tables, complete with treadles. The other seating in the room, all occupied, consisted of a sofa and chair around a coffee table and a tiny two-chair table in the corner by the bookcases.
Besides a full coffee and tea menu there are lots of bottled cask ales as well as two handpumps. The cakes seem to be very popular but the snacks are a bit pricey, with a bite-sized samosa going for a quid. The chalkboard food menu was currently offering fish cakes (1 portion remaining), burritos (1 left), meatball sandwiches, and bagels with various spreads. I could definitely see Marmite and cream cheese, but Nutella seems a bit sweet for a bagel. I suppose that's my Los Angeles Jewish deli upbringing showing.
Our double macchiatos were served in large green cups I could picture in the kitchen of my more Bohemian relatives. The macchiatos were nicely made and the coffee tasted even, clean, and round, although it was a bit too smooth for our tastes, more like a comfy plush round cushion than a punt down the River Robust.
As it was Valentine's weekend the man sharing our crush of a table was reading The Anti-Valentine Anthology, and on the table was a schedule for the weekend-long Anti Valentine's Festival featuring bands, poetry, cabaret, and magic. It sounded like a fun event, albeit a probably very cramped and crowded event. I pictured something like the more popular live gigs I used to go to at the tiny Al's Bar in downtown Los Angeles, where if you found a bit of cool brick wall to be smashed against you could count yourself lucky. If those sewing machine tables were regular tables instead and offered a bit of legroom, the cafe would make a lot more sense as a live venue. But then a lot of things in this world don't really make sense.
Speaking of not making sense reminds me of a recent e-mail conversation with a workmate about the numbering logic of our respective university libraries:Even though Level 5 of the campus library in which I work is full of books to be shelved, my commanding officer has sent me down to Level 3 where there is absolutely nothing to do and the Level 3 monitor is quite bored. Ah, well, at least I can get some rest, and perhaps we'll play a game of chess... There's a sign been put up by the newspapers in the campus library in which I work that says something like "Back Issues are kept in the Stack on Level One". Level One? The information boards also use this nomenclature, albeit in tiny writing: ground floor of your library is Level One, first floor is Level Two. It's very odd; the reason why the ground floor is labelled Level One is that it is at first floor level in your campus; there's a Level 0 in other places and the adjacent building starts at Level Two. The clue is to be found in the room designations: rooms on Level One in your Library are numbered 61..., Level Two 62..., etc. But some poor, confused child somewhere in the university, desperate to homogenise the Libraries, made a misunderstanding and ordered the signs wrong for my Library. So C101 is on Level Two and C001 on Level One. Fair enough, someone made a mistake; it's easily done. But now somebody else is perpetuating this error, and it bothers me. It bothers me that someone is trying to make a consistency which is not actually consistent.