Food and Drink : Cafe Totem – Sheffield’s newest pizza pioneers.

Café Totem first caught my eye early in August this year when I read that they were selling shots for just 50p each. Come September and they have just launched their new, hand-made pizza menu…and all at very reasonable prices.

The Food – The standard pizza menu features Margherita (£5), Pepperoni (£6), Hawaiian (£6.50) and Hot & Spicy (£6.50). A Vegetarian pizza is also available featuring tomato, mixed peppers, onion and with the option of adding vegan cheese for 50p. The food is perfect for a light lunch or a quick bite as its not too heavy nor is it any effort to acquire. My food came within ten minutes of ordering and looked immaculate.

The base was thin and crisp – the staple of a home-made pizza – and lightly covered in a tomato sauce. The tomato base wasn’t too overpowering as I have found in other pizzerias, it just complemented the whole taste of the pizza. The mozzarella cheese was also melted to perfection. I often find that the downfall of pizza places can be their cheese. Either too much, too little, or just not cooked to the right standard. Café Totem did not have any of these problems. There were no crispy edges, no slightly under-cooked cheese – it was all great. To put the icing on the cake, the pepperoni was cooked to the slightly crisp texture that I love and dusted with Parmesan cheese shavings. You could tell the kitchen were using good, fresh ingredients.

If the pizza alone isn’t enough to make you come down and visit this place, then why not check out their ‘Famous £5 Deal’. This deal runs from between the hours of 12pm-2pm & 5pm-7pm everyday barring Sundays and gives you the chance to grab a pizza and a drink for just £5. Toppings cost an extra 50p/£1 for vegetable and meat toppings respectively – and it’s an extra pound if you want your drink to be Budweiser/San Pellegrino or £1.50 if you prefer a Red Stripe. Other drinks included are lemonade, Pepsi and hot drinks.

The Drinks – Café Totem, which first opened its doors September 2017, has very easy-to-read menus, including a drinks menu with prices (something that I love considering a lot of new bars hide their drink prices until it’s coming out of your wallet). The draught range starts at £3.50 for Sheffield Pilsner and ends at £4.70 for Brooklyn – with Carlsberg export on offer for £4.20 and San Miguel at a very reasonable £4 a pint – no complaints can be made on prices so far. Bottles range from £3.50 – £4 with a range of beers including Peroni, Birra Moretti and Estrella. Beer cans and ciders also range from £3.50 – £4 are can be found in the ‘2 for £5’ deal. In this deal you can mix and match two drinks for a fiver including Red Stripe, Strongbow and Budweiser. You can also mix and match 5 shots of tequila/sambuca for a tenner – not too bad at all.

A single spirit and a mixer can be bought for as little as £3.50 and a double of the premium stuff will cost you £7 – so pretty standard prices for a city centre bar. A large glass of wine can be purchased for £4.50 which is very competitive and soft drinks are also £2 each (Coca Cola, lemonade, sparkling orange).

Everything Else…

The bar offers free Wi-Fi which works a treat and is made up of friendly and attentive staff. I was greeted with a smile and felt very welcome to be a customer in this place. The tables are all made of wood as well as most of the walls which gives it a very cosy feel. There are also fairy lights draped around everywhere which gives the place and very cute feel. It’s a very good-looking bar.

The venue, formerly known as ‘The Rocking Chair’, also hosts live music through the week with several up-and-coming bands already playing their songs in the downstairs of this bar. Co-owner George Vaughton told me that they rent out their downstairs for £130, which is done to give bands to chance to make some money of their gigs. He told me “the capacity for downstairs is 100 people so if a band can sell it out at £5 a ticket, then it gives them more revenue to go and record their own track, or to put on another gig”. George also said that “it’s all about entrepreneurship…we want bands to do stuff for themselves, not wait for some record label to pick them up and do everything for them”.

Café Totem can be found at 23 Furnival Gate, Sheffield, S1 4QR. Open 12pm – 11pm Monday-Thursday (til 2am Friday/Saturday). Closed Sundays. For more information, find them at www.cafetotem.com.