THE Harley? That’s not an eatery. Is it?
You don’t go there when you want food. You go there when you want a can of Red Stripe, and it’s 2am.
The place, in Glossop Road, isn’t so much a bar as a hazy no-man’s land. You enter with the intention of having a last sociable nightcap, and leave, blinking in the early morning, wondering if there’s time to nip home for a shower before work. That’s The Harley, yes? Sheffield’s late bar and self-proclaimed throwers of a “world class party”.
Gigs staged here - including Arctic Monkeys and Titus Andronicus - have gone down in city folklore, while music nights called things like Gold Teeth are always packed out. There’s also a hotel attached although, one imagines, it’s probably advisable for weekend guests to bring ear plugs.
But food? Really? Apparently so.
Two years ago, bosses set up the inhouse Twisted Burger Company. The idea was to produce comfort/party/hangover food which was fresh and fun and could be served all day, and it’s been gaining a word-of-mouth reputation ever since.
So much so, indeed, that next month the burgers - sourced in Lancashire - will be franchised into a second boozer, Aire Bar, in Leeds. There are further plans to move into outlets in Manchester and Nottingham. That expansion follows three months when dining numbers at The Harley itself have gone through the roof. Covers some weekends, says brand manager Charlie Leaver, are up 400 per cent on last year.
That’s probably why this Saturday lunch we have to wait 15 minutes for a table. But it’s worth it. The burgers are amazing.
We’ll get to just how good - so good - in a second.
For now, the decor feels different by day. Dinky tables are laid out where revellers will later dance through the night, and the curtains are thrown open to reveal vast windows onto Glossop Road. Crucially, there’s real ale on tap so one can avoid the ignominy of accompanying lunch with a tinny. Staff are friendly if more heavily tattooed than you might get at Bella Italia.
And the burgers themselves? Magnificent; little basketed mountains of brioche stuffed with thick beef patties and greedily topped with everything from sweet meats to something bright-but-delicious called techno sauce. It’s dive-right-in-food. Don’t-be-shy-food. Food that, if you’re worried about getting your fingers sticky, has already beaten you. There’s nothing so pretentious as starters so we ploughed straight in. The Pig Daddy Kane (dishes are named after cultural totems) is double beef topped with pulled pork that is sticky and drippy; while Super Supersize Me is triple beef that’s so stacked (bacon, cheese, gherkin) it looks like it’s been doing bench presses out back.
Sometimes you have a burger and you wonder why anyone bothers with steak. That’s how these are.
The sides don’t slouch either. Twisted Coleslaw is awesome, while the Harley House Fries are fired fabulously with Cajun spices. Brownies for dessert were good, although unnecessary after what went before. So, aye, The Harley definitely does food, and does it brilliantly. And Leeds, Nottingham, Manchester? They’re in for a treat.
* £33.45 with two beers.
Venue: The Harley
Address: Glossop Road, Sheffield
Contact: 0114 275 2288
My star ratings out if six: