I knew the Roebuck and its surroundings reminded me of something… a postcard, a photograph a shot from a TV programme perhaps?
The way the old-style, life-sized bricks and mortar Sheffield pub is being dwarfed by the larger-than-life construction work going on all around it looks somehow familiar.
On Arundel Gate the concrete towers of Hallam University’s new education building are starting to reach into the Sheffield sky. The 32 storeys of St Paul’s Tower is head and shoulders above everything, the ‘cheese grater’ car park stands prickly and defiant in its post-modern eccentricity.
Next to that the soon-to be 10-storey office building that will complete the Heart Of The City project is already towering over the Roebuck and it’s only half finished.
Then I realised what it all looks like.
Up! The 2009 Disney film where a lonely old man ties thousands of helium balloons on to his old house surrounded by tower blocks and modern development and floats it away for the trip he has dreamed of all his life.
His tiny old nineteenth century house is completely overshadowed by 21st century development. As is the Roebuck
A lovely film and a great story of one individual’s battle against conformity and refusal to abandon his dream. We couldn’t hope to match such grandiose metaphors - we just went and ate there instead.
First things first - it’s cheap and cheerful rather than cheap and nasty.
Where else can you get two decent main courses from a selection of 14 dishes for a tenner?
If you’re after fancy service and complex dishes the Roebuck is not for you. If you’re after a cheap, filling and tasty meal, it is. Though not everything we had was to be recommended.
The pub is a mix of old and modern with some solid wood furniture, a good fireplace and tasteful renovation all around. The beer I had was sound and clear and there’s a bar full of real ales including two from Sheffield’s Wood Street Brewery - both of which were excellent, more of which later.
You order and pay for food at the bar and then they bring it to your table. We chose from the slightly tatty cardboard menu - new ones needed chaps - and went for the shared starter platter, pictured left, between the two of us. The best of it was the chicken gujons. Delightfully moist chicken breast pieces in a crunchy and tasty breadcrumb coating, a little heavy on the sage for me but first class pub nosh.
The nachos were disappointing. Done on what looked like fried flour tortillas with a little cheese but not much in terms of flavour. The coleslaw was without distinction, onion rings fairly crisp but lacking a little something in the batter. The garlic ciabatta was fine.
On to the main event and I chose the sensible and prudent option of steak and ale pie, chips and mushy peas.
The pie had no bottom or sides but came in its own dish and the top was decent flaky pastry. The meat was melt in the mouth beef at its best in one of the best pie gravies I’ve tasted.
Then there’s the chips. Five stars and no mistake.
Last week I went on about the chips at the Leeds Arms in South Anston after trying them and discovering they are cooked three times.
These were just as good, crunchy outside, soft and moist within. and also cooked three times too, according to landlady Alison Newbold.
“The chips are good because they are home made,” she said. “They are blanched in oil first, flash fried later and then fried again when we get an order.”
The peas were fine and topped off an excellent main course for a fiver.
My daughter’s vegetarian lasagne was packed with veg, nicely herby, with plenty of sauce and with side salad and garlic bread - another winner for a fiver.
Desserts weren’t quite as tempting.
The sticky toffee pudding was a bit dry and not very sticky at all – good toffee sauce but not much of it. The chef’s crumble was better with some rich, thick custard but though I like the fruit in a crumble to have a tarty kick this was really tart – a touch more sugar would have helped.
“We do two for a tenner because we have to to compete,” said Alison who owns the Roebuck and the Hillsborough Hotel and set up and runs Wood Street Brewery.
That’s a busy life.
“We don’t really make much on the food because I insist on cooking everything from fresh, I don’t use frozen stuff. We get all our meat from Crawshaw’s at Hillsborough.
“We are surrounded by development which can be a nuisance and we do look a bit like that house in ‘Up!’, you’re right!
“We set out to create a rural-type pub right in the city centre and all that new development makes us stand out even more.”
With two halves of bitter our meal came to a bargain £28.45.
Let’s hear it for the little guy…
The Roebuck, 72 Charles Street, Sheffield S1 2NB. Tel 272 1756. Food Served Monday to Saturday 11am – 9pm, Sunday noon – 6pm. www.theroebucksheffield.co.uk