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Previous Pint Pleasures - July 5, 2004

guinness eileen

The Riverside Cafe Bar, 1 Mowbray Street, Riverside, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Sheffield, like Rome and Seattle, is built on 7 hills around 5 rivers which include the Don, the Sheaf, the Rivelin, the Loxley, and Porter Brook. The River Don winds 70 miles through the Don Valley from Sheffield out into the Pennines, finally joining the River Ouse at Goole. The Don was the location of the first recorded use of water power for industry, which eventually led to the construction of many of Sheffield's famous steel mills along the river's banks. Sadly this caused the rich salmon population to dwindle, and the Don eventually became one of the most polluted rivers in England. Fortunately today it is considerably cleaner, with fig trees flourishing along parts of its banks and trout and grayling happily sharing the river with families of ducks.

Last year the first section of the Upper Don Walk opened, starting near the old Whitbread Exchange Brewery. This scenic walk will continue to the Kelham Island Museum and beyond, passing several fine cask ale pubs along the way. On this initial stretch of the walk is the Riverside Cafe Bar. Originally a residential hotel, the building became the Brown Cow pub when the servants' quarters were turned into a beer cellar. The pub has been called the Riverside since 1995. An attractively bright, roomy pub featuring original stained glass windows and art on the walls, the Riverside's drawing point is its patio with umbrella tables overlooking the Don -- a perfect place for a summertime lunch and pint.

The first time we stopped into the Riverside was on a sunny day when my mother was visiting from America. We sat outside and sipped refreshingly crisp pints of Barnsley IPA and nibbled on our non-traditional pub lunches while watching ducks swim in and out of the reeds . The second time we stopped in we had another non-traditional lunch, this time mine being a Greek salad pita with feta and olives. On our most recent visit, when we took our friends Belgian Daisy and American Barb, the sun was so intense that we opted for a table inside. Daisy and Barb, who were both on holiday, sipped halves of Leffe (8.4% ABV, SA Interbrew for Br Abbaye de Leffe, Dinant, Belgium), a wondrously superb heaven of a beer, each sip like a huge bursting bouquet of lilies in one's mouth. Since Andrew and I weren't on holiday we chose more cautious pints of Adnams Regatta (4.3% ABV, Adnams and Co, Southwold, Suffolk), a perfect summer beer which always seems to inspire riparian screenplays. Since it was a Sunday lunchtime the four of us went for the carvery which offered several types of meats including lamb and pork, a vegetarian option, and all the Sunday roast trimmings. My vegetable and cheese pie was scrumptuous, the roast potatoes were excellent, and the braised leeks were heavenly. And all these served by young women in pink t-shirts...

The Riverside is open all day and serves food all afternoon. Live music is featured on certain nights, and a non-smoking room is available, which is good news. If more pubs that had the facility for a non-smoking room would provide one, perhaps we could steer clear of this ridiculous no-smoking-in-pubs legislation that certain pressure groups keep trying to push through. Sure, it happened in Ireland, and in California and New York, but it doesn't mean the rest of the world has to follow suit. Both smokers and non-smokers ought to be able to smoke in a smoky room or not smoke in a non-smoking room when they're out having a pint with friends, and I think more pub owners should make the decision to go this voluntary route if they have the rooms, the space, and the clientele.

'Nuf said. Now back to my pint...

Riverside Updates
(Last updated 31 October 2015)