Food Review: Snap Deli, 985 Ecclesall Rd, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S11 8TN. Tel 0114 268 6047.

Dinky caf�-cum deli: Owner-chef Chris Gillingham hands over some of his mouth-watering sweet treats to one of his staff. PICTUREs: steve parkin
Dinky caf�-cum deli: Owner-chef Chris Gillingham hands over some of his mouth-watering sweet treats to one of his staff. PICTUREs: steve parkin
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ELFANSAFETY jobsworths down south have banned triangular flapjacks in favour of rectangular ones after a pupil was hit in the face by one.

It says several things about our education system, not least that it produces people too dumb to realise a square has four ‘dangerous’ corners rather than three.

Goodness knows how they would have ruled on the Snap Deli’s triangular fried eggs.

Not that owner-chef Chris Gillingham is likely to hurl one across the dining room in his dinky little café-cum deli on Ecclesall Road at Banner Cross, Sheffield. But that’s how they come out of the pan if you order ham, eggs and chips.

Snap, opened two and a half years ago, is one of those delightful little places where if they don’t do it themselves, get it from the place next door or down the road.

Take the eggs. Our table, one of five, is a few feet from a box of them with a little sign which explains they come from Aston Springs Farm at Aston, near Rotherham. I’m still eating lunch when Emily, one of the farmers, comes in with four or five trays of eggs.

She asks Chris how the eggs have been and he says they have gone down well. I chip in and find the farm has 3,000 free-range hens, rare bred pigs, a shop and a goat called Gordon. Now that sort of thing makes your food taste even better.

In fact, the Snap Deli is a matey sort of place. We have both had the spicy parsnip soup, the only ‘starter’ if you’re doing a three course taste test, and a couple of attractive young women come in and muse whether to order the same.

They ask us how it is and I have to do a snap critique and say it’s got just the right texture, neither too thick or too thin, gently spicy but ask the kitchen to go easy on the croutons which end up as a bit of a mush at the bottom of the bowl.

Although it only seats about 20, every available space at Snap Deli is filled by blackboards – there are ten of them, not counting the ones on the tables – or shelves lined with bottles and jars, quite a few of them chutneys, pickles and jams from the local Just Preserves, of which more later.

We’ve bumped into Chris on and off over the years, front of house at The Terrace in Hathersage and at Kitchen, on Ecclesall Road, but he seems equally at home in the kitchen. He started Snap with his foodie business partner Rob Smith, who runs a local company making wetsuits and oversees the outside catering.

Breakfasts, whether Full English, veggie or Welsh rarebit, are pretty big here, but it’s lunch and Snap offers the usual range of sandwiches, salads, jacket spuds and daily specials.

Although we’ve ordered soup we also, for some reason, ask for tea for two (£1.50), which comes in big white cups and saucers and a little bowl for your teabag.

The soup (£3.50) is flavoured gently with curry powder and a few other spices, including roast garlic, and I’d be happy with this anywhere.

If the eggs with my ham and eggs special of the day come from Aston (£5.95) the ham, two thick, juicy, pork slices, come from Pat O’Brien, the butcher right next door. “It’s good that if you order sausages they will be made next door that morning,” says Chris later.

The chips haven’t come out of a bag but are homemade, skin-on chunky chips stacked Jenga-style. And there’s a really excellent little pot of spicy tomato ketchup made in the kitchen to go with it.

My wife’s salmon and cream cheese tart (£5.50) is also a Chris special – they turn them out in dozens for outside catering – and scored with a good pastry and tasty filling. It came with a salad and jacket potato but, oh dear, that wasn’t very hot.

“Let’s put it this way, the butter isn’t melting,” says my wife. There can be few people who do three courses in a café at lunchtime but we’re here to size up the food and you need more than a mouthful to do a proper job.

I eye up the cakes in the counter and discover vanilla slices. Now I’m old school when it comes to cakes and they are just my cup of tea. I ask if they’re made on the premises.

“No but I have to get up very early in the morning to get them from Vinny’s on the Parkway Market because they’re sold out by 6am,” says Chris.

Reluctantly, I forget the slice and order two cakes which he does make. It’s a good choice because the chocolate brownie with hot chocolate sauce was gratifyingly squidgy without being too sticky.

I have a moist, lemony drizzle cake and Chris asks if I want lemon curd with it. Normally I can’t stand the stuff as I was brought up on stodgy paste you could stand your spoon up in but this is made by Just Preserves, which Snap Deli has just bought out.

It is a revelation, with the consistency of double cream and a strong but not overbearing lemony taste. My congratulations to former café boss Matt Hulley who has taken on the role of Just Preserves chef.

Not sure how much each cost but the total was £3.40, a steal, and we finished with good coffees (£3.50 for two).

Snap Deli shows that even if you run a café you can make the most of local produce and aim for excellence (we’re going to forget about the lukewarm spud).

We take home a jar of lemon curd, half a dozen Aston eggs and a vanilla slice that was well worth Chris getting up early for.

The Dawes Verdict

Snap Deli

985 Ecclesall Rd, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S11 8TN.

Tel 0114 268 6047.

Open Mon - Fri 8am - 5pm, Sat: 9am - 4pm.

Credit cards. Childrens menu. Breastfeeding friendly. Street parking.

Food 5

Atmosphere 4

Service 5

Value 5