Sandwich bar’s full-English, cakes and salads have students and builders wanting more.
It’s a freezing, wet January morning and you’re just getting on top of an apocalyptic hangover,
The headache is down below 100 decibels, the guts have finally stopped trying to escape.
It may be worth staying alive after all.
Then it hits you. You’re starving. Starving the point where hunger becomes lust.
A lust for lard, salt and caffeine. We’ve all been there.
So it was last week after a couple of drinks the night before turned into several.
But breakfast lust can be dangerous and lead to unsuitable liaisons with rubbery pink bacon, sawdust sausages and snot-slimey eggs.
Some succumb to furtive fumblings with fruit, yogurt and granola, others flirt with fast food and, in the most desperate cases, porridge. Yes, porridge.
But let’s not dwell on such bleak vistas, breakfast awaits and I’d had my eye on Wellies for some time.
Mainly because it’s always packed.
Using the old chippy maxim that if there’s a queue it must be worth waiting for, I took myself, my hangover and my colleague Keith to Wellies to be fed.
Wellies is a brightly painted café on the corner of Charles and Arundel Streets in the city’s ‘cultural quarter’.
Every working day for the past two years Hallam students have queued alongside brickies, joiners, electricians, plumbers and others in dusty boots and high-vis jackets working on Hallam University’s £30m Sheffield Institute of Education building on Arundel Gate - to be home to 157 academics and 5,000 students. But no builders.
All those hungry hard-hats from Nottingham, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield etc will have moved on as the Balfour Beatty building project comes to an end this week.
So what will that mean for Wellies?
“We didn’t know about the building work but as we were working on the place – it used to be called Nibblers – we discovered the work was starting, said 25-year-old owner Alex Tate, from Dronfield.
“It’s made a big difference to us, especially in summer when students aren’t here.
“Around 50 per cent of our customers are builders. This job finishes next week but there are a couple of others starting in the area soon so we’re hoping we’ll attract them too.”
So what is it that keeps them coming back for more?
Wellies is used to being busy and the staff are alert and quick. They take orders at the counter, give a ticket on payment and bring food over when it’s ready.
Coffees and teas are almost instantaneous.
I have a decent tea - builders’ of course. I would have liked the teabag leaving in but I am an over-fussy sod.
Keith likes his Americano, strong and dark with a good kick of flavour, he was happy. He was also happy with his bacon, egg and tomato sandwich.
My breakfast arrives with all the colour and calorific glory befitting the full English. I chose hash browns instead of mushrooms and though looking as though it’s from a freezer pack, the potato cake was crunchy and comforting.
Sausages can be a major issue when breakfasting out but these were meaty and nicely done. The bacon was cooked crisp as I asked and could not have been better in texture or flavour.
Egg yolk was still soft without the dreaded mucous, the beans were recognisably beans and not the sort that have you guessing where they might have come from.
The tinned tomatoes lacked seasoning for me but the granary toast was good.
Afterwards I went back for cake - banana cake and a Boost crunch made from B oost chocolate bars with enough sugar and caffeine to blast away the remains of any hangover. Tastes good too.
The banana cake was light and subtly flavoured and both desserts are made on the premises.
The coffee is excellent - knocking spots off some of the trendier places round-about in my opinion.
“We have been here for two years now,” added Alex.
“I have worked in hotels and restaurants all my life - Maynard Hotel at Grindleford, Whirlownbrook Hall and Millhouses Park Café - but it was a bit of a leap to start my own place.
“It’s worked out really well. We get bread from Turners in Sheffield, our meats from Owen Taylor’s butchers in Derbyshire and our fruit and veg from the Parkway markets – we like to keep it local.
“We weren’t going to focus so much on breakfasts, we were hoping to be a more salads kind of place, but we are going with demand.”
Alex and his partner Lia run the place and they are thinking they might start up a second Wellies.
“We were thinking of another one near the other university or Ecclesall Road area.”
So what about the name Wellies? “Wellies is the name of my parents’ favourite restaurant in Majorca,” adds Alex.
“They have an apartment there. We were thinking of names like Brunch then someone in the family suggested Wellies which was different and we liked it.”
So did I, Keith and all those students and builders.
For two breakfasts, three coffees, a tea and two cakes our bill came to £15.90.
Star rating out of five:
* Food 4
* Atmosphere 4
* Service 4
* Value 4
* Wellies, 140 Charles Street, Sheffield S1 2NE. Tel: 0114 2725987