Story & photo:John Mellor
Surprises in Burngreave are often just around the corner, as I discovered recently when looking for the Curry Canteen run by Rupert Ellis. It is within about 3 minutes’ walk of the Ellesmere Road shops, tucked away among the old cobbled streets behind John Heath’s Funeral Parlour. To get to it, you walk down Hallcar Sreet, take the first left, then first right into Dorking Street.
The Curry Canteen lies half way down on the left between the Staffordshire Arms and the Rock Christian Centre.
I was warmly welcomed by Rupert, who owns the business, and he struck me as a great enthusiast and an energetic entrepreneur committed to producing and serving a menu of delicious curry dishes.
I asked him why he had come to Burngreave. He said:
“I’ve been in the catering industry for 15 years and my last business was a restaurant in Broomhall. My father owns this building which is part of Sheffield Foods Ltd, better known as ‘the onion factory’. There was an opportunity for me to take over the Curry Canteen 5 months ago and this came at just the right time. I’d previously taken a year out between 1999 and 2000, travelling around India and Kashmir, and loved the taste of the different types of curry which I found there.”
I then asked Rupert if he got much ‘passing trade’, as the restaurant is a bit off the beaten track. He replied:
“That’s true, but there are several factories in this area and I am building up a good lunchtime trade from the factory workers. The clientele is quite multicultural and they keep coming back for more! The restaurant can seat around 30 customers and a lot more come for takeaways. But the main part of the business is in supplying frozen meals which we deliver to pubs across the city. We find these are very popular.”
Rupert kindly offered me a complimentary plateful of curry and rice (which made it just slightly cheaper than the very reasonable prices on the menu). In fact there were four curries: lamb, chicken, spinach, and beans and chickpeas, all of which had delicious, mouth-watering flavours – I could understand why Rupert’s customers kept coming back for more! While I was there a regular customer, Tesfom from Eritrea, came in for a late lunch and told me: “I really enjoy the curries they serve here”.
Rupert then introduced me to his chef, Adil from Kashmir, who was busy upstairs in the large kitchen. Adil explained the secret of the wonderful flavours: “I use my own mixtures of spices which are based on traditional Kashmiri recipes; this is what gives them their special and unique flavour.”
I happened to mention that my wife loves vegetable curries, especially spinach and bean recipes, and Rupert insisted on giving me a takeaway for her; it was an offer I couldn’t refuse – and a very appropriate (if slightly belated) treat to celebrate our 44th wedding anniversary.
The opening times of the Curry Canteen are 12 noon – 6pm, Monday to Friday, or call 279 5348. I shall certainly be back there for another delicious curry in the not too distant future – even if I have to pay for it next time!