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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Tamper Coffee

June 14, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Posted in Cafe | 3 Comments
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One thing that was sorely missing from the Sheffield food and drink scene until recently, was a proper gourmet coffee shop. So, we were delighted when we heard about Tamper Coffee, a new cafe specializing in coffee and cakes, and since our first visit we’ve been completely hooked on its charms. Tamper Coffee is somewhat tucked away on Westfield Terrace, but it’s well worth hunting out.

Be prepared for a warm welcome when you step inside Tamper Coffee. This is the sort of place where the staff recognize you after the first few visits – a rare phenomenon in this age of coffee shop corporations.

Our party kicked off a very sophisticated afternoon with coffees all around. Lovingly brewing coffee from scratch takes time but with table service on offer this is no big deal – and the coffee is worth the wait. The lattes (£2.20) were served in cute glass cups on black saucers (a very funky combination I’m now going to use when I’m trying to impress house guests!) To top it off, Tamper Coffee sketch a little picture in the frothed milk of every latte. You don’t get service like that in Starbucks!

Just as we’d finished coo-ing over our drawings (the team member who ended up with the bunny rabbit was particularly impressed) our Tamper Coffee cappuccinos (£2.20) arrived, topped with a generous sprinkling of chocolate powder.

On their website, Tamper Coffee boast the tagline “serving only the best and freshest coffee in Sheffield.” A bold claim, but one that’s difficult to dispute. Made with Our Cow Molly milk and locally-roasted beans, it bears absolutely no resemblance to the brown stuff you find at the big-buck coffee chains. Coffee lovers, Tamper is your dream come true. Quite simply, it’s the best coffee I’ve ever tasted.

Not content with serving the best cuppa in town, Tamper Coffee’s menu stretches to a selection of sarnies, cakes and breakfast items. Our table ordered two smoked salmon, cream cheese and rocket bagels (£3.80 each) which were served on rustic wooden boards. Starving, my face fell at the size of the meal, but it was all an optical illusion: the smooth cheese, tangy smoked salmon and deceptively filling bagel left me stuffed.

Although I turned down dessert, not everyone could resist and a couple of date scones (£1.80 each) found their way to our table. Tamper Coffee’s date scone is a lumpy, homemade-looking sweet treat that tastes every bit as fresh as it looks. It came with tasty raspberry jam and butter, although it’s laced with so many plump dates it can be enjoyed on its own.

So, the best cuppa in town, fantastic food, homemade cakes, reasonable prices and friendly staff – but being the best in the business comes at a cost: Tamper Coffee was absolutely rammed when we visited over the weekend. Although they have just opened an extension with a few extra tables, we struggled to find enough seats for our party, and the waiting time for food was the longest I’ve ever experienced in a cafe. In fact, one of our meals (a ham and cheese croissant priced at £3.00) got lost in the rush of orders, and by the time it was remembered we had to leave. Tamper Coffee is a real gem of a coffee shop that deserves to do well, and it’s always exciting to see a homely, independent place thriving, but on that particular day I couldn’t help wishing it wasn’t quite so busy.

Tamper Coffee is the perfect antidote to the coffee chains that have dominated our high streets for far too long. It’s a small, friendly and independent gem that deserves your custom. Be prepared to wait far longer than you would for a Starbucks, but be prepared to forgive them for it when the best coffee in Sheffield arrives at your table (although it might be worth keeping a closer eye on your food order than us!)

If you like fresh coffee and yummy cakes in a vibrant, local and friendly venue (and really, who doesn’t?) then what are you waiting for?

Patisserie Valerie

June 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Posted in Cafe | Leave a comment
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Coffee and cake brunch? It can only mean one thing: a bank holiday!

Located in the heart of Sheffield city centre (Barker’s Pool, to be precise) I’ve wandered past Patisserie Valerie a couple of times, and have always had my head turned by its calorie-ific window display of glazed fruit tarts; profiteroles topped with twists of chocolate and sculptured cream; and every variety of chocolate cake under the sun. Unable to fight it any longer, we were outside the shop waiting for it to open at 10am over the bank holiday weekend, like a right old bunch of cake-addicts.

Despite being slap bang in the city centre, Patisserie Valerie boasts a small outdoor seating area. As the morning hadn’t properly warmed up yet, we settled on a table indoors.

Beyond Patisserie Valerie’s work-of-art window display, the cafe has the same Parisian theme as Café Rouge. The seating is a trendy mix of dark wood and red leather, with plenty of Parisian artwork thrown in for good measure.

It’s a very chic setting for your morning cuppa and despite being the first through the door, Patisserie Valerie soon filled up. This is clearly a popular cafe, particularly for families with young children.

In addition to cakes and coffees, Patisserie Valerie serves a range of breakfast items, salads and sandwiches. Be warned though, the food is pricey – we spotted what was essentially a posh tuna club melt for £8.50, and a chicken caesar salad priced at £9.00. As it was still early, we decided to stick to coffee and cake, and ordered a selection of coffees: a latte (£2.80) cappuccino (£2.80) and americano (£2.70) which were all reasonably priced.

The coffees arrived in the no-frills white mugs you can find in any coffee chain, which was a bit of a disappointment considering our swanky surroundings, but we were all happy with the size of our coffees. Patisserie Valerie serves a decent tasting cup of coffee, similar to a Starbucks or a Caffe Nero cuppa, just in a nicer location.

But what we were really looking forward to was the cake. To offset our guilt, we ordered something that would provide us with one of our five a day (in addition to a wodge of calories and saturated fats) a round of Belgium Apple Tarts (£3.35). Heavily glazed and loaded with slices of apple arranged like flower petals, it certainly looked the part. More importantly, it tasted the part, too. The apple slices were sweet and had the tanginess of just-baked cooking apples, and the baker hadn’t skimped on the cinnamon. Spicy, juicy and sweet with a base of crumbly pastry, we were all in agreement that at just over £3, these posh apple tarts were well worth the money.

With a string of cafes all over the UK, Patisserie Valerie clearly work hard to maintain their ‘local cafe’ atmosphere. The boutique decor and lavish window displays create an independent vibe that makes this a far more pleasant venue than the coffee shops of other nationwide coffee chains. Although the coffee tastes similar to Starbucks and Caffe Nero’s, the decor, relaxed atmosphere and friendliness of the staff makes this a much more pleasant venue to while away a morning, and when it comes to cakes Patisserie Valerie excels – there isn’t a pre-packed muffin or cellophane-wrapped cookie in sight.

A decent cup of coffee, a fantastic range of fresh cakes and characterful surroundings – Patisserie Valerie is a nationwide coffee chain done right.

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