The Cutlery Works is a fine example of a new type of food hall. Jill Turton discovers that bao buns, poutine and pies are among the dishes on the menu at the 14 restaurants. Pictures by Simon Hulme.

The Cutlery Works, Sheffield
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On a wet Wednesday lunchtime in the run-up to Christmas, I’m in Sheffield’s Kelham Island, the restored industrial area that once housed the tiny blackened workshops of grinders, polishers and all the trades that made up Sheffield’s cutlery industry known as Little Mesters, and after dark a dodgy area of kerb crawlers and substance traders.

Neepsend Lane still looks run down, but the old Rutland Cutlery Works has undergone a major restoration by Matt Bigland and Nina Patel Bigland, owners of the city’s Milestone restaurant.
The Cutlery Works opened last year as a 300-cover food hall, known as the Cutlery Works. Now it’s home to 14 restaurants and three bars across 14,000 square feet, touted as the biggest food hall in Northern England.
The Biglands say they were inspired by the new food halls of Europe. They could be onto something; I’ve been to terrific artisan food markets in Malaga, Palma and Rotterdam. The Cutlery Works follows the European pattern – a collection of local and independent food stations, each with their own kitchen, each offering a different cuisine.

The Japanese-inspired Konjö Robata Kitchen is a satellite of the upmarket Jöro restaurant where you might order sticky rice with barbecued mackerel, yakitori skewers, or duck leg in a bao bun.
Who knew that poutine is a Quebec favourite of skin-on fries with cheese curds and gravy (mushroom gravy also available)?
Soggy chips don’t do much for me, but Gravy Train Poutine looks the business.
Fin and Bone do eggs benedict for breakfast/lunch and trade up in the evening with the likes of clam chowder, moules frites and ox cheek tacos.
Five Rivers is Vietnamese and Ma-Ba does vegetarian Gujerati. No marks for guessing what Pie Eyed is about. There are all things chocolate from Bullion Chocolate Factory and vegan and gluten free cakes from Elly Joy.

Sugar and Lemon Crepes

The design too is fun. Exposed brick, vintage Vietnamese posters, a splash of neon. There are quiet alcoves with sofas and low tables or high stools at big wooden sharing tables. One corner has gorgeous Moroccan cushions and is hung with a riot of colourful Japanese lanterns. It’s all lovely.
The deal is to bag a table upstairs or down, choose from the menu or wander the food stations, chat with the chefs and order your food. When it’s ready, servers will bring it to your table. From Pie Eyed we get a wonderful Cheddar and red onion pie – deep, made with hot water crust pastry, filled to the brim with onions, rich Cheddar and a browned bread crumb topping. It comes with chips. The non-meat gravy is as savoury as anything made from meat juices, so that my mate Charlie can speed-scoop the gravy with a fork, boarding school style.
I’ve gone for Konjö’s robata grill, the simple charcoal grill used in Japan to prepare skewers of meat or veg. The skewered shiitake mushrooms with a light teriyaki sauce of soy, ginger, garlic and sugar hit the spot. So did the crispy chicken wings doused in a sticky hot sauce eaten with fingers and mopped up with a handful of napkins.
For dessert we might have gone for Elly Joy’s vegan and gluten free cakes, but there was too much protein powder and non-dairy ice cream for my taste. Instead we shared a classic crêpe with sugar and lemon from Foundry Coffee Roasters.
These amazing coffee roasters were in Nether Edge before relocating to the Cutlery Works. If you’ve never had really freshly roasted coffee, come here on Wednesdays after the roast. It’s the best coffee I’ve ever tasted.
The crêpes not so much, too thick and short on the sugar and lemon. The food at the Cutlery Works is mostly good, prices are held between £6 and £10 and there’s a lot to like about the casual dining vibe. The menu usefully lists all the vegan options from across all the outlets. Children are genuinely welcomed (confirmed by a cute one-year-old in a highchair tucking into fish and chips with her dad).
There are regular tastings, workshops, food and drink pairings, morning yoga sessions and weekend brunches.
This weekend there are craft stalls, a brass band and Father Christmas. Forget sherry and mince pies, this is 2019 and mine’s a blueberry buzz smoothie and a ‘froconut’ sandwich.
The Cutlery Works, 73-101 Neepsend Lane, Sheffield, S3 8AT. Reservations: www.opentable.co.uk. E: hello@cutleryworks.co.uk.
W: www.cutleryworks.co.uk. Open Wed-Thur 9am-11pm, Fri/Sat 9am-1am, Sun 9am-10pm. Price: Dinner for two with wine and service approx. £55.

About The Author

Jill Turton

Jill Turton is a freelance food and travel journalist who writes for numerous publications. She inspects restaurants for national food guides and is a regular reviewer for the Yorkshire Post. Jill is author of Good Food in Yorkshire and the Time Out Guide to the Lake District and with Mandy Wragg writes the Yorkshire online food guide www.squidbeak.co.uk'

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