Smörgås, the story behind the cafe

I have just written the copy for October’s food feature for Now Then magazine, which seems crazy that we are thinking that far ahead already! As we will be getting into autumn, the focus is going to be Scandinavian food.

To find out more about Scandinavian cuisine I met up with Lesley Duffield from Smörgås, a Scandinavian themed cafe located opposite the Hallamshire hospital.

The cafe opened in March and Lesley has brought a taste of the Nordic to Sheffield with their range of open sandwiches known as Smörgås (in Swedish), Scandinavian inspired salads, pastries and soups.  

As a teaser of what’s to come in the October mag, I wanted to use this post to share the story of Lesley’s passion for food and how Smörgås was born.

Why Scandinavian food and why did you decide to start Smörgås?

I got to spend time in Scandinavia as part of the work I was doing at the time and I really like their attitude to food. People tend to not sit at their desks to have lunch, they will take time out from their work to go out for food or go to the staff canteen.

Scandinavian food is vibrant and looks good, the smörgås are a great example of that.

Selection open sandwiches Smörgås Sheffield

As a cuisine it is simple, fresh and seasonal, generally cooking doesn’t involve loads of complicated processes or masses of ingredients. I wanted to bring a taste of this style of food to Sheffield.

I chose this location as it is quite quirky and that appealed to me, we’ve did some painting and work in the garden, really the aim is to keep it comfortable and relaxed in style.

There is no comparison to what I did before this venture as I worked for a large pharmaceutical company. I took redundancy and I felt there was not going to be a better time to try out what I really wanted to do. I had to give it a go and try. I got support from Business Sheffield which was really good, as you don’t know what you don’t know. Ultimately, I didn’t want to regret not taking the chance to give Smörgås a shot and spend time thinking, what if…

Open sandwich Smörgås Sheffield

New potato and boiled egg with horseradish cream and crispy onions.

How is going so far?

I feel encouraged about how things are going so far, word is getting out there and we are getting regulars coming back, which is great.

We have a mix from doctors from the hospital, staff from the university, people who have appointments at the hospital to others who are passing by. I am looking forward to the students coming back in September and sharing with them what we do.

There’s charging points for laptops and we have Wifi so people can work here or have meetings, if they want to get out of the office. In the nicer weather we have bean bags in the gardens, so we have had some people who’ve done their 1:1s outside!

We have had good feedback on the food, people enjoy the salads and soups, we have got plenty of vegan and gluten free options too, which go down well. Also, we encourage people to bring their own containers, you get a small discount for that and we pass on a donation to the Real Junk Food Project.

What is next for Smörgås?

I want to see how things evolve. In the winter I’ll make it cosier, have candles that kind of thing, I want the place to change with the seasons and that goes for the menu too.

There will always be the smörgås on the menu, I want to look at what the demands are and be flexible to them. Waffles are one thing I want to try and quiches and pies. Opening in the evenings is another option I am considering, there are a few things! I am taking it one step at a time.

401 Glossop Road, Sheffield, S10 2PR


Look out for my Scandinavian Now Then magazine feature in early October. You can pick up your copy in the usual cafes, pubs and shops across Sheffield.

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