REVIEW: Sheffield sports bar The Wilcard has a touch of Premier League class

Sheffield’s almost-latest sports bar has a touch of Premier League class, writes Star reporter Steve Jones.

Saturday, 26th June 2021, 4:45 am

Whatever your sport, you won’t struggle to find somewhere to watch it in Sheffield But you might struggle to find a better spot than The Wildcard on Ecclesall Road.

Opened in October 2020 following a refurb on the old Napoleons casino, the venue, billed as “Sheffield's first luxury sports bar and grill”, boasts more than 40 TV screens and a four-sided jumbotron above the bar, making it impossible to miss the action.

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The Wildcard Bar & Grill on Ecclesall Road, Sheffield.
The Wildcard Bar & Grill on Ecclesall Road, Sheffield.

There are even televisions in the toilet and, if you’re lucky enough to bag an individual booth, you’ll get your own screen and some privacy away from anyone supporting the other team.

You can also choose what sport you want to watch while you enjoy some food or a drink.

A mezzanine separates restaurant seating from casual dining downstairs, which is ideal if you don’t fancy listening to the armchair managers.

The food menu is extensive and full of the fare you expect at sports bars: wings, nachos, pizza and burgers, plus a grill menu. Yet it’s free of the pretentiousness a “luxury” tag often brings.

The Wildcard's chilli cheese burger.

No need to worry about Googling half the menu, then, it’s just the usual popular choices done well.

Granted, it doesn’t push any boundaries when it comes to originality, but the people coming through the doors aren’t here for a fine-dining experience.

A huge selection of draught beers – ciders less so - is also complimented by a cocktail menu and the large, open-plan space and high-spec finish throughout helps create a more welcoming and inclusive environment than your average sports bar, which can be a bit blokeish.

Memorabilia lining the walls – much of it a nod to Sheffield’s sporting heroes – is a reminder of the city’s illustrious and unrivalled history when it comes to sport and another touch with separates Wildcard from their rivals.

Chicken wings marinated in a Memphis Sticky BBQ sauce with ranch dressing.

We’d been warned about the ‘weekend millionaires’ who frequent Ecclesall Road’s latest hotspot but the midweek crowd is a good mix, and friendly staff and speedy service make for a good experience.

The only downside was a wobbly table, if we’re being fussy.

Ten succulent chicken wings generously marinated in a Memphis Sticky BBQ sauce with ranch dressing was an ideal-sized and tasty starter for two.

Despite the upmarket setting there’s no elegant way to eat chicken on the bone, so you just have to get stuck in.

Next up was the chilli cheese burger, which was stacked high and just as messy. It was easier to navigate with a knife and fork but there were no complaints about the taste or portion size.

Wildcard don’t take themselves too seriously, so a good-sized portion of fries are served with all the burgers on the menu.

Unfortunately, there was no room left for dessert. Another time, though, definitely.

“Luxury” does come at a premium relative to the city’s other sports bars – one appetiser, two mains and two drinks each came in at £54.50 (service charge not included) – but the experience and food quality was a level above the competition.

While it may be a bit soon to be selling their own branded merchandise, The Wildcard is top of the table in a crowded market. And a safe bet.