Spotlight On: Barrowboy
Since opening its doors in late-August, Abbeydale Road “neighbourhood bar” Barrowboy has already established itself as a popular port of call in an area which is increasingly becoming a lucrative proposition for a nice, varied drinks crawl away from city centre confines.
Situated next to Picture House Social, a few hundred yards up the road from other well-established watering holes such as The Broadfield and The Gin Bar at Vintedge, the cosy venue occupies a busy corner on the main drag, with large casement windows spread across the front providing a perfect vantage point overlooking the hustle and bustle outside.
Inside, the décor is stripped back and stylish: industrial chic fittings and a number of furnished wooden tables to the right of the tiled bar. Despite it being a late-October afternoon, the sunshine was streaming through and a couple of punters were sitting on high stools by the open windows while sipping at craft beers. It’s a hugely laidback vibe on weekdays in particular, perfect for some post-work leisure. The intimate surroundings make it a real social space which immediately puts you into contact with staff members, who welcome the Exposed team warmly on arrival before we headed over to browse the drinks selection.
Behind the amiable bartender, Rohan (who previously slung drinks at The Great Gatsby), are the six beer pumps – a combination of craft offerings and more conventional favourites with a Whiplash IPA, Yakima Red and Abbeydale’s Heathen alongside Peroni, Guinness and Japanese dry beer Asahi. There’s also an extensive cocktail to list to peruse featuring a number of concoctions with certain twists, such as the Banana Old-Fashioned, Lavender Martini and – ahem – the rum-based Jamaican Me Wet. However, we settled for beers with Asahis, Heathens and a very tasty mango sour Hops Not Hate from the well-stocked selection of canned beers settling us in nicely.
Nico Irving and chef Deck Stafford are the guys behind Deckards, the Midlands street food vendor in charge of the kitchen, and the star attraction on their quirky menu of bar bites are the baos – Taiwanese steamed buns stuffed with a range of tempting fillings and sauces. You can get three for a tenner, so since we were in a group, we ordered all six on the menu – fluffy, messy pieces of pure self-indulgence filled with treats like buttermilk Japanese fried chicken, Vietnamese pulled pork, Korean beef brisket and cherry cola glazed brisket alongside halloumi and BBQ jackfruit options for those going down veggie or vegan route.
The Pork ‘Bao’ Rosso, a chunky slab of pork belly covered in fresh mint and dukkah was a particular favourite, while the homemade coriander hot sauce smothered over the Hiyoko chicken and veggie Jack ‘Bao’er was a game-changer. Nico explained that they might eventually look at selling bottles of the stuff separately and if this transpires, it will definitely be a massive hit, mark our words. We ordered more Hiyoko chicken strips as sides with some hefty slices of fried halloumi just so we could get another hit of the stuff. The moreish loaded fries – and by loaded, they mean LOADED – were topped with cheese sauce, gochujang mayo, house slaw and generous portions of more succulent beef brisket. Easy-going comfort food at its finest, and the considerable order we’d placed lasted a matter of minutes before we were left contentedly picking at the last few fries in the box.
Sheffield has taken to the bao in such a way that Barrowboy has launched a brunch menu, complete with a variety of drink offers to keep punters happy on lazy Sundays mornings through to the afternoon. But regardless of whether you’re visiting for an early hangover cure, Saturday night cocktails or a mid-week bite, odds are you’ll enjoy the warm, convivial atmosphere and be leaving with a grin on your face from this welcome addition to the S7 drinks scene. We’ll certainly be back for our bun fix soon.
Barrowboy// 453 Abbeydale Road