The Sunshine Bakery in Chapel Allerton has quite the reputation around these parts. A quaint little shop in the centre of our achingly hip suburb, they win awards for their cupcakes, make a damn good burger and generally tweet up a storm. If you're from around here, no doubt you've heard of them.
But, did you know that they do a supper club? It's just re-opened for the summer and we jumped at the chance to try it out. A girls night was declared and we donned our glad rags and headed over, not sure what to expect but excited all the same.
On first impressions, the Sunshine Bakery is cosy. It's full of knick-knacks and mismatched furniture, with lacy tablecloths and bunting strung from the ceiling in a haphazard but totally stylish way. It feels perfectly suited to the French food that was on offer - it's the kind of place you'd want to accidentally stumble into on a trip to Paris, a bolt-hole that nobody's heard of but which serves you the best meal of your life, that you can boast about at dinner parties forever more.
The menu is, understandably, limited. This isn't one for the fussy eaters. Three choices each for starters and main, and an assiette of desserts to finish. My obsession with asparagus (I am SO happy that it's asparagus season) meant I had to choose the tart for starters and I was not disappointed at all. The pastry was crispy, the leeks were decadently creamy, the slightly acidic beurre blanc cut through perfectly and kept it light, and, of course, the asparagus was perfect. I told you, I'm obsessed.
There was more deliberation over the main course - but I eventually plumped for the duck. As Katie wisely advised, it's something that wouldn't come out of my kitchen half as good, so why miss an opportunity? She was so right - the duck was beautiful. The skin was crispy, the meat was tender and I felt utterly spoiled.
However, despite the limited menu, I was not without the dreaded menu envy. I dunked a hunk of bread into the pea and basil soup and was disappointed that I couldn't have had both for starters. It was so incredibly fresh and flavoursome - for something which sounds so insipid it was everything but. Both the aubergine lasagne and salmon main courses looked delicious as well and the murmurs of appreciation from around the table just proved that you couldn't go far wrong, no matter what you ordered.
I'll be honest - but I don't want you to think that I am being harsh - and say that the pudding was a little disappointing for me. A trio of puddings is usually my idea of heaven but usually this means mini desserts - a whole chocolate cupcake felt like a bit much to finish the meal with. Of course, Sunshine Bakery are renowned for their cupcakes so it was delicious - incredibly moist and with a delightful topping, but I just felt it wasn't quite right given what had come before it. The strawberry tart which also graced the dessert plate, though, was absolutely beautiful and I think I would have preferred just that on its own. The creamy custard was flavoured with lemon and the strawberries were gorgeously sweet - I'm so happy that summery foods are coming back!
But, don't let my slight criticism put you off. At £20 for three courses, it was an absolute bargain. Not only that, but it was BYOB so all in all it was one of the cheapest and one of the best meals I've had in Leeds. The food was good, but not pretentious. The atmosphere was cosy and we stayed for over three hours (we took a break between main and dessert) without ever feeling rushed.
But my favourite thing about the evening? Hanging out with these ladies.
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