Gav and I first discovered Harmony Cafe a good 4 years ago when it first opened. It was a tiny little cafe, constantly packed with hungry diners and we were always lucky to get a table.
The food was worth the fight, but quite often we weren’t up to it, so we didn’t eat there as much as we would have liked. That may all change now though as Harmony have relocated a couple of doors down the road to 17 Westfield Terrace (where Cafe Guru used to be). This means that Harmony looks more restaurant than cafe and there are twice the number of tables to fight over.
We popped in one Saturday afternoon for a late lunch and we were pleased to see that the décor of the restaurant was smart and minimalist. There is still that cafe style to the place in that you make your orders at the counter. I personally don’t mind ordering at a counter rather than having a waiter take them. It means that I’m not hanging around trying to catch a waiter’s attention to make my order. It does also mean that the chances of the waiters getting a tip at the end of the meal are pretty slim…… which makes me wonder why restaurants still do this.
Onto the food. The menu is ‘homestyle’ as chef John wants to replicate the more homely traditional Chinese dishes, so that when the students come to Sheffield they won’t feel too home-sick! It’s a good plan. Not only do the Chinese students love this stuff, Sheffielders love the chance to try a new style of this popular cuisine. Of course Harmony aren’t the only guys cooking home style; Mandar Inn and Orient Express are at it too. Given how busy each of these places are I don’t think we need to worry about a saturation of the market just yet.
We spent a good 10 minutes looking over the menu. It’s another long one and there are many delicious sounding dishes on there. We order drinks of pearl milk tea and plum juice. The tea, served cold, was incredibly sweet and milky. Plum juice tasted of, well, plums.
We decide to give a couple of the starters a go. After falling in love with hot and sour soup (£2.80) at the much missed Vietnamese Noodle Bar we order some along with curry fish balls with chips (£4.50).
Ordering hot and sour soup is kinda like taking part in a game of Russian roulette. Sometimes it so hot that it makes your eyebrows sweat and prevents your taste buds from enjoying the rest of your meal, and at others, it just makes your lips tingle a little. This one is on the mild side with just the right amount of heat so it doesn’t blow our heads off. It’s good and thick too; just how it should be.
Curry fish balls with chips was a strange one. The balls of fish are strangely spongy; a bizarre but not offensive texture. The chips are standard fries and are good and crispy. The curry sauce is the real highlight. Oh my. It’s just like fish and chip shop curry sauce, but better. In fact the whole dish seems to be a bit of a play on the British fish and chip takeaway.
I started off by dipping my chips into the sauce, but soon gave in and just poured it all over my plate of chips. Mmmmm. Luxury!
For mains we have tasty braised beef with rice (£6.50) and a claypot of aubergine and minced pork in salty fish pot (£8). The beef was beyond tasty; it was gorgeous. Cooked away for hours and served up in its own juices the beef was beautifully tender; literally melt in the mouth. There was a back note of Chinese spicing which was good as it added a different aspect to the dish and reminded us of where we were.
The claypot was equally as delicious. Aubergine was perfectly cooked to the state of creaminess, mince was nicely complemented by the subtle fish sauce and there was a lot of pak choi in there making the dish healthy as well as tasty.
There weren’t any desserts on the menu, but we all know that I ain’t that fussed about desserts, and we were both stuffed, so that was no real loss.
All in all, the move down the round is a good one for Harmony. The food is as good as ever and there’s been some real improvements to the décor (and the chances of getting a table)!
Has anyone else been yet? What did you think?