“MY aim is that when you leave I want you to be having sugar sweats,” says Cindy Cheung, placing a small mountain of toffee and cream profiteroles on a table. “That’s the sign of a good session.
“Yes, it’s naughty and it’s unhealthy but I think everyone is allowed a guilty pleasure once in a while...don’t you?”
Right now, sitting at a table full of flavoured ice cream, chocolate cheesecake, egg custards and toffee pudding, it’s hard to disagree...
Welcome, reader, to Pud Inn, Sheffield’s sweetest-toothed open dining club. Here you spend an afternoon enjoying five courses – and they’re all dessert.
Sounds a little glutinous? Don’t worry, there’s a greater good too.
For diners can console themselves that there are a trio of worthy aims: to support local makers, bakers and chefs; to encourage friendships and contact among people who might not come together if not for their love of, say, a pineapple upside down cake; and to reconnect us with our roots by reintroducing eaters to traditional desserts like bread and butter pudding.
“They’re the best, aren’t they?” says founder Cindy, a 28-year-old graphic designer and food blogger of Norfolk Park. “I adore the way they make you feel all satisfied and content.
“But, more than that, I think pudding is a social thing. It’s the course where you most sit back, relax and enjoy the company you’re with.”
Blimey. And you thought that apple crumble was just a way of filling a hole not quite covered by your surf ’n’ turf.
Because among the sweets provided at Pud Inn are genuine works of genius by some of the city’s finest foodies – including, so far, Mike Smith, head at The Rutland Arms, in Brown Street, cake company Victoria Made, award-winning ice cream makers Yee Kwan and Chinese cake-maker Tracey Tang.
“The idea behind the whole experience is supporting local business,” explains Cindy, a former Brinsworth Comprehensive School pupil whose parents ran Chinese takeaway Pak Hoo House, in Westgate, Rotherham, for 22 years. “I have always loved my food but I was at Nether Edge Farmers’ Market last year and I was amazed by the variety of local producers.
“I wanted to support them because, with my family’s background, I know how difficult it can be as an independent trader. So I started writing a blog where I tried to eat only Sheffield food for a month, and that in turn led me to discovering all these amazing desserts.
“We also have a rating system so we can give the chefs some feedback.”
The not-for-profit events, at The Rutland Arms, are quarterly.
The first, in September, welcomed 20 diners and then 30 attended the second in December.
Now the third is to be held on Saturday, March 3, from 3pm at The Rutland Arms.
“I’ve been surprised by how many people have been interested,” says Cindy.
“I’m limiting numbers to 25 this time to keep the intimate atmosphere but, who knows, the way they have taken off, they could become more regular.”
Sugar sweats or not, it seems Sheffield’s sweet-tooth is being pulled.
Tickets for the next Pud Inn are available from the pub at £8.
A good pud - Cindy’s favourite city sweet
1 Beetroot and chocolate cheesecake by PJ Taste in Glossop Road: It sounds like one of Heston Blumenthal’s creations – but, wait, it’s nice.
2 Green tea ice cream by Yee Kwan in Devonshire Business Park: You can’t get that flavour from Thorntons, can you?
3 Egg Tart by Cakes Are Us in London Road: The perennial nanas’ favourite – and understandably so.
4 Profiteroles by The Rutland Arms in Brown Street: The Seventies legend topped with a twist – or toffee, as it’s known.