On the face of it, there’s something missing from Sheffield city centre. No, not a new John Lewis, the Goodwin Fountain or a five-star hotel - a dedicated, sit-down, fish and chip restaurant.
There are takeaways, of course - but the kind where you can linger over a substantial meal is rare indeed.
For a time, Bruce Payne ran a place that fitted the bill - Seafayre, on Charles Street, had the full works; it was licensed, there were waiters and sauce was offered in small dishes. Class indeed.
But Bruce, who used to own Castle Chippy in the former Castle Market, shut the restaurant in 2015, moving to the Moor Market, where he’d originally refused to go after objecting to rents there.
And The Market Chippy, the latest venture from Bruce and his wife Helen, goes some way to filling the gap for an eat-in fish and chip establishment in the middle of Sheffield.
The location’s perfect, for starters. On a midweek afternoon the resurgent Moor, with its Light Cinema and new shops, is as busy as Fargate - no exaggeration - and the market’s bustling too.
The Chippy has one of the first kiosks in the row of stalls in the market’s food court. Diners can leave with their food if they wish, but there is plenty of seating; quieter spots are towards the back. Orders are placed at the counter and, in most cases, are served immediately.
The standard cod, chips and mushy peas came piping hot on a paper plate - no ceramic crockery, sadly, but the cutlery was metal, thankfully, and a cup of strong tea was served in a proper mug.
The cod’s batter was golden and not too thick, giving way to tender, perfectly white fish beneath. Chips were plentiful, chunky, and not overly damp, and the peas were clearly homemade - no catering tins here.
The tomato ketchup was a bit of a let-down to accompany such a good meal. The Chippy’s bottled variety resembled odd, thin jam.
But overall the quality was sufficient to enter the ‘hidden gem’ category. The price is right, too - £5.60 in all, cheaper than Seafayre.
It shouldn’t be a surprise. Bruce married into the Pearces, a family that has chip shops across Sheffield. Batter is still made by hand and they shell their own peas. “It’s as traditional as you can get,” he says.
Sagitta potatoes from Dronfield are being used to make the chips currently, should anyone wonder, as Bruce’s farmer has run out of seeds for his favourite ‘caesar’ variety. “In a year’s time they might reappear,” he adds, hopefully.
Star rating out of five:
Three more to choose from:
Harry Ramsden’s, EEccleshall Road
and to take away - Two steps, Sharrow Vale Road