Food review: Dog days at The Bowery

The Bowery in Devonshire Street
The Bowery in Devonshire Street
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Sausages in buns may not be gourmet cuisine. But, says Colin Drury, this city bar does them brilliantly

The hotdog is the most noble of creatures, noted the Canadian theorist Laurence J Peter: “it feeds the hand that bites it.”

The Bowery in Devonshire Street. Manager Claire Best.

The Bowery in Devonshire Street. Manager Claire Best.

It’s a strange phenomenon, the sausage in a bun.

Less civilised countries - ie. the US and Germany - may adore them but over here we pride ourselves on enjoying more sophisticated fast food. Like kebabs.

Fact is, you order a hot dog in the UK and chances are you’re going to end up eating an over-stretched prophylactic filled with the sweepings from a farmyard barn. Or something even less appalling, such as a Ye Olde Oak.

Gourmet cuisine, they’re not. Harsh perhaps but they just don’t have a good rep. They’re illicit somehow. You take a burger home to meet your folks. You don’t even admit to being friends with a sausage in a bun on Facebook.

All of which perhaps makes it a bold decision by The Bowery, in Devonshire Street, to go big on them. The bar - famous for being part-owned by former Arctic Monkey Andy Nicholson - unleashed (unleashed? geddit?) its Dolly Dogs menu six weeks ago.

Before then they didn’t do food, and, to be fair, they don’t do much now. It’s just dogs and sides. You want anything as complex as a burger, try The Harley instead.

But...wait...don’t do that.

Because these hot dogs - and there’s a fair range - are wonderful; thick, sizzling truncheons of pork, beef or (if you really must) vegetarian substitute served on soft brioche. On Thursdays, when we went, they taste better because they’re two-for-one.

The Bowery opened in 2008 and, after a recent refurb, has the feel of a New York diner; all booths, subway signs and mock-industrial lighting. Staff are friendly, and the fact there’s a guy actually cooking your dogs in a mini-kitchenette behind the bar is very quaint.

We don’t have starters because there aren’t any so it’s straight for a beef chilli dog, a pork lone star dog (topped with coleslaw and barbecue sauce), two portions of fries and an extra coleslaw.

And its lovely; fast food as it should be; messy, drippy, finger-lick-y knots of just-vaguely-greasy tuck, designed to fill holes and illicit groans. The sausages themselves were that rarest of things for hotdogs - meaty. You wouldn’t just let these meet your ma and pa, you’d happily marry them.

Too much? Just wait until I get started on the coleslaw, a bright purple mass - coloured by red cabbage - of freshness.

Three quibbles. Firstly, cutlery is wooden and throw-away, which isn’t very pleasant. Secondly, if you want to phone ahead, no-one ever answers - manager Claire Best tells us they only respond to emails, which is bizarre. And thirdly, there’s no desserts.

For now, it matters not much. These are hotdogs to make you understand why the Germans adore them.

* £12.80 with two drinks.


Venue: The Bowery.

Address: Devonshire Street, Sheffield, S3 7SG.

Contact: 0114 272 3577.


Food 5

Atmosphere 4

Service 5

Value 6