It's the normal story, a friend recommends somewhere by word of mouth, but they've recommended somewhere else before, like something with a good review on Tripadvisor, you do the same, it's absolutely rubbish and then you lose their trust. This had happened with this friend, but I had been to the Sunshine Bakery in Chapel Allerton, Leeds once before to have cupcakes and tea (officially the best in the country), and went away definitely impressed. So, this friend now recommends the same place to me, I hadn't realised they did mains/were like a restaurant, but they are, apparently only open Tuesday to Friday in the evenings and it's bring your own. I want to cut a long story short and say this place is flipping brilliant, but I really must go into detail.
First of all, it's tiny. It only seats around ten people, so Lord alone knows how they manage to make a living, but God willing, they must, because they have to, otherwise there is no hope in the world. Secondly, many men are put off because in a word it's camp. Camp as Christmas. There's real doilies everywhere, there's advertisements for birthing-hypnotherapy, there's advertisement for rollerblading. Everywhere is cupcake glory-tastic. The tea sets are a mish-mash of vintage and gold edged best china which is a real pleasure, served with proper teapots as one would expect in a decent Yorkshire cafe. Except this is no ordinary cafe. No. Service is a little slow, but there is a good excuse for this in that every man, woman and child is entering the place to buy their weekly supplies of pastries, cupcakes, rolls and bread. So we'd booked and were immediately shown to our table, which was the only table for four in there (only three other tables for two). We drank our tea soaking up the atmosphere which was a perfect day for a camp, delectable cafe in the Chelsea of Leeds that is Chapel A. I ordered the soup as a starter - roast carrot cumin and tomato broth. Husband had apple and pork sausage roll. The soup was divine - spicy yet delicate and utterly scrumptious, you could taste how it had been roasted, with the richness delightfully contrasting with the sweet carrot. And the sausage roll. Wow! Pastry unbeatable and again the two contrasting tastes of the sweet apple and slightly salty pork making it a gorgeous sausage roll. And the piccalilli? Well, delicate, home-made and crunchy I thought this too to be one of the best ever, husband thought it needed more mustard, but I'm not a mustard fan in general, it's a bit too overpowering so I thought it was just right.
After this great experience for starters, I persuaded husband after I had started my main to also have a main - the hamhock pie and mash - which he did and polished off. My main was I think the best salad ever. It was advertised as 'Superfood salad with green beans, hummus and couscous' but it had so much more than that. The hummus was amazing, just the right spices and again so delicate with the tastes of the olive oil and chickpeas coming through the mild eastern tang. The ham hock pie was also great, but I think this salad that I ate had star quality. Just so much, so beautifully presented and such an oasis in the desolation that is quality-salads-available-in-Leeds.
Then to finish, as we were so full, we shared a cupcake. Not just any old cupcake. The nation's best. This particular one was a mango, chocolate and doughnut cupcake. A tiny, spherical doughnut on top of the chocolate and mango cream/icing. We tucked in only to discover to our delight that the doughnut had been filled with jam! And no warning. What a treat.
And the bill, for all this including two coffees, came to : Wait for it £19. Yes Nineteen pounds sterling. Unbelievable. The best cafe in the world.