Fancie Cafe

January 9, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Posted in Cafe | Leave a comment
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When I heard that cupcake connoisseurs Fancie were opening a new cafe along my daily commute, I was excited at the prospect of calorie-laden cupcakes and frothy coffees as an end-of-the-working-day treat (and, let’s face it, a pre-work pick-me-up.) However, Fancie’s new establishment at 359 Ecclesall Road isn’t just about the cake; Fancie have branched out into the brave new world of savouries and cooked breakfasts.

The new cafe is a change from Fancie’s previous pink, cupcake-centric image; it’s a very rustic affair of exposed brickwork, pick-and-mix furniture and mismatched timber cladding. There’s Catherine’s Choice preserves behind the counter and delicious-smelling omelettes flying out of the open kitchen. Even the logo has been given a grown-up makeover. This is a new direction for the Fancie brand but fear not: there’s still plenty of their trademark cupcakes for those with a sweet tooth.

This new incarnation seems to be going down a storm. When we visited on a Saturday morning we had to perform a lap around the venue before we found an empty table. The cafe appears to be a particular hit with young families, with a tangle of pushchairs leaning against the central pillar that dominates the cafe (and, annoyingly takes up a lot of potential seating space.) It’s bustling and noisy, but with a pleasant, family-friendly vibe. Factor in some quaint flower arrangements, vintage crockery doubling-up as sugar bowls and the olde-worlde, greaseproof paper menu, and you have a charming and quirky new cafe.

There’s a limited lunchtime menu, but the food menu is focused on breakfast, with a selection of traditional cooked brekkies, omelettes, homemade granola and bread with jam or butter. The menu is currently missing a veggie cooked breakfast, but it does include a vegetarian sausage roll at a penny-pinching £2.10, so this isn’t a major problem.

But, before the food, it was time for that old favourite: a brew. Fancie go the extra mile when it comes to the humble cuppa, particularly with their herbal infusions. The green tea arrived with an entourage of teapot, tea strainer, tea bowl, a quirky mismatched vintage saucer and a neat little egg timer that ensures your drink it always brewed to perfection. The egg timer is a lovely, thoughtful touch that makes a simple cup of tea feel extra special. However, at £2.80 for a one-person serving of green tea you do pay extra for the showmanship.

green tea

After seeing the green tea I almost regretted ordering a plain old cup of Yorkshire tea, but for the bargain price of £1.10 I got a bucket-sized mug of the good stuff, served on a lovely vintage saucer with a generously-filled milk jug. Fancie sure know how to make a good cuppa!

tea

The food arrived shortly afterwards, and again I was left feeling like I’d snagged a bargain. My veggie sausage roll was stuffed with tangy cheese, lashings of delicious spinach and flavour-packed tomatoes, all wrapped in thick pastry. I’m not a massive fan of pastry as a rule, but this was nothing like the thin, crispy, greasy stuff I’ve had before. At £2.10 this is a bargain that, thanks to the wedge of pastry, left me completely stuffed.

sausage roll

At the other end of the table, the Petit Breakfast’s (£4.50) motto was clearly ‘quality not quantity’ with two rashers of thick-cut bacon, a grease-free local sausage, buttery mushrooms and fluffy scrambled eggs laced with black pepper making for a tasty breakfast treat. A wedge of homely-looking brown bread and a generous pat of paper-wrapped butter bulked out the meal a bit, but at £4.50 the cooked portion of the breakfast did feel a little on the light side.

petit brekkie

So, have Fancie successfully made the leap from cupcakes to full-blown cafe? The new Ecclesall Road venue is a rustic, family-friendly place with bags of character and a great atmosphere. The flourish they give the humble cup of tea is second to none and, although I’m not entirely sold on their cooked breakfasts, they do serve up some tasty snacks, delicious-looking sarnies and sweet treats (which goes without saying, really.)

The perfect spot for a truly indulgent cuppa, a light bite and, of course, the best cupcakes in the city.

three-and-a-half

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The Tea Experience

January 5, 2013 at 9:39 am | Posted in Made Locally | 2 Comments
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I’ve had my eye on the Tea Experience’s beautiful flowering tea for a while now. So with the Christmas expense successfully behind me, I decided to treat myself and splash out on their flowering tea starter kit.

The Tea Experience are South Yorkshire-based purveyors of fine teas and tea accessories, including authentic Yixing teapots, quirky glass teaware, and high-quality loose leaf tea. But it’s their flowering tea blooms that really make them stand out, with their double-whammy promise of both “good tasting tea” and a “stunning display.” A quick Google search reveals that these flowering tea blooms are made by wrapping dried tea leaves around one or more dried flowers, then sewing the whole thing up into an unassuming little ball. When popped into hot water, the bundle expands in a way that mimics a blooming flower.

For flowering tea novices, The Tea Experience offer a ‘Flowering Tea Blooms: Boxed Set’ which includes a selection box of six tea blooms, alongside a Lin glass teapot and two glass tea bowls. The set arrives neatly packaged, with every piece in a separate box marked with a differently-coloured sticky label.

When I unpacked the Lin tea pot I was surprised by how small it was, but then I unpacked the two tea bowls and the teapot suddenly seemed enormous by comparison!

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The dinky tea bowls are far smaller than any I’ve seen in a restaurant. Feeling a little shortchanged, I turned my attention to the tea blooms themselves, which are very nicely presented in individual cardboard compartments, individually wrapped and marked with a different coloured sticker so you can tell one little green bundle from the next.

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Size of the glassware aside, this is a very nicely turned out kit that would made a fantastic present.

But what about the tea itself? As soon as I popped the first bloom into hot water a few air bubbles popped to the surface, then one-by-one the spiky little leaves started to unfold. When the bloom drops to the bottom of the bowl you know the real show is about to start, as the flower finally pushes its way out.

My first mug turned out to be the red amaranth and jasmine blossom tea bloom:

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As the set comes with a selection box of tea blooms, I was also treated to the dramatic Dragon’s Eye bloom, which is made from a marigold,vibrant red amaranth and a snaking vine of jasmine blossom. This is a truly spectacular cuppa – definitely one to save for a dinner party!

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In terms of taste, all the teas have a delicate flavour and are much lighter than herbal tea. It’s also one of the most refreshing cuppas I’ve ever had! Although you can refill the teapot a few times before each bloom runs out of juice, the real flavour comes from the first brew and subsequent cups do begin to taste like hot water.

The Tea Experience’s flowering tea is a unique present and a novelty that you’ll want to share with anyone who drops by your house. While it isn’t the tastiest or strongest hot drink, it’s a light, refreshing brew that leaves you feeling extra hydrated. Worth splashing out on if you fancy trying something different!

Visit www.teaexperience.co.uk/catalog/ to find out more.

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