Food review: In cake heaven at Angelica’s cafe at Atkinsons department store in Sheffield

To attract customers you don’t just have to offer the right product at the right price, you also have to create an experience that makes them positively pine to return, repeatedly

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The important thing to remember with Atkinsons is that it’s just a shop.

It might be uniquely Sheffield, the embodiment of residents’ famed friendliness, modesty and down-to-earthness.

Cake heaven at Angelica'sCake heaven at Angelica's
Cake heaven at Angelica's
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It may have a fascinating 151-year history - including a direct hit on the first night of the Sheffield Blitz on December 12-13 1940.

It may be the last department store in the city and a key defender of Sheffield’s retail Alamo - The Moor - where the remaining shops are staging a last ditch defence against a twin attack from the internet and the cost of living crisis.

Angelica's is on the first floor of Atkinsons.Angelica's is on the first floor of Atkinsons.
Angelica's is on the first floor of Atkinsons.

It may be all these things, but it’s important to remember nostalgia and admiration - nice though they are - don’t pay bills. 

Atkinsons is a shop, and shops need customers - as John Lewis, Debenhams and many more besides, know all too painfully.

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And to attract customers you don’t just have to offer the right product at the right price, you also have to create an experience that makes them positively pine to return, repeatedly.

Delicious toasties and a quiche and chips with white chocolate shortcake to follow.Delicious toasties and a quiche and chips with white chocolate shortcake to follow.
Delicious toasties and a quiche and chips with white chocolate shortcake to follow.

It is with all this in mind we approached Angelica’s Tea and Cake for lunch. Atkinsons has no fewer than three eateries and the plan had been to go to the restaurant. 

But we were in the queue before we realised, and after looking at the cakes, happy to stay. Some 16 were arranged on shelves and under glass domes, from classic chocolate eclairs and lemon meringue pie, to caramelised biscuit cheesecake, pecan tart and stacks of cranberry and white chocolate scones.

So many cakes to choose from at Angelica'sSo many cakes to choose from at Angelica's
So many cakes to choose from at Angelica's

All this goodness was given pride of place alongside pre-made sandwiches and bottles of pop, drawing you in. The savoury menu featured scampi and chips, smoked haddock pea and cheddar fishcakes and Italian chicken ciabatta, plus traditional and toasted sandwiches, light lunches and jacket potatoes.

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The bacon, cheddar and tomato chutney bloomer toastie (£5.80), got rave reviews for its taste and texture. “One of the best ever,” she said.

My quiche, salad and chips (£8.90) was the simple but delicious fare I was looking for. The aforementioned cranberry scone (£2.70) was “on a par with the National Trust.”

But it was the white chocolate caramel shortcake (2.90) that had us going back for more, three in total, despite all that choice. Just thinking of it makes me want to return - which is one way to inspire loyalty.

Another way is to have really lovely staff, which we all agreed they were. Another is to offer good value. We paid £42.70 for three mains, four cakes and four drinks.

In short, at Angelica’s we were in heaven.