Appreciate the brunch beauty as Sheffield family cafe flourishes
Nothing sparks more personal pride in Sheffield’s independent makers and creators than to see one of them flourish or expand.
It had been almost five years since we visited Alyssum in Crookesmoor – a dainty and delightful cafe set up by Alexa Exarcopoulos and her chef mum Jane Baxter after they returned from life in Greece.
Aesthete Coffee + Kitchen , just up the road in Walkley, is their second baby and fans may recognise the chic, contemporary style and cosy welcome.
“A lady came in to Aesthete who at first didn’t realise we were the same”, said Alexa.
“Then she recognised me and said ‘I thought this place has been stealing ideas from Alyssum’!”
Alyssum has just four tables, so demand far outstripped capacity.
Aesthete, in a former Indian restaurant building, offers a much larger space, as well as a wider range of dishes through the day, and even special bistro evenings once or twice a month.
Alexa added: “It’s taken us about four years (to expand) but we finally found the right team to rely on.
“Mum was originally from Walkley before she moved to Greece so it is weird how we have ended up back here.”
Brunch has really taken off in Sheffield and is my favourite meal to eat out – but dishes can often be very similar from place to place.
Not so at Aesthete. The menu has plenty of different dining to offer, from Venetian eggs Florentine to fig and feta toasties, as well as the decadent sounding espresso martini pancakes.
Alexa added: “We’ve gone for a completely different menu with a lot of variety. It’s not just a Mediterranean theme now, for example we have a Mexican bowl which is really tasty.
“We basically sat down and thought about what we liked to eat and we like to try something new when we eat out.”
Being somebody who could eat curry for breakfast, the eggs Benedict con carne (£8.90) featuring spicy keema won the day over the herby salmon pancakes.
The delicately spiced lamb, with cubed potatoes, added a real zing to this breakfast item, without being too heavy. It was a spotlessly sized portion too, and the buttery , canary-yellow Hollandaise with dashes of chilli united the runny eggs, crunchy artisan toast and other elements beautifully.
Ellie’s crushed avocado and halloumi on toast (£7.80) came with ever so trendy microgreens and a salsa that had just the right amount of spice to it.
Both were presented beautifully on patterned blue plates and with finishing flourishing.
The definition of Aesthete is a person who is appreciative of and sensitive to art and beauty, and you can certainly do that here. There are plenty of vegan options and cocktails to boot, but you do have to order at the counter.
I was glad to see too that the gorgeous cakes from Alyssum make an appearance at its sister venue.
There was a nod to Alexa and Jane’s Greek experience with the melomakarono, a traditional holiday dessert. It was sticky and sweet, almost like baklava in a cookie form.
The soft cheesecake brownie also went down a treat – and after a bit of staff confusion over the order, we took home a super sweet white rocky road slice.
With four excellent, strong coffees, two mains and three desserts, we paid £34.50.
Aesthete, 348-352 South Road, Walkley
Tel: 0114 232 2000