Wonderful winter themed afternoon tea at one of Sheffield's newest cafes
They say food brings the family together - and that’s certainly the case at Cassinelli’s, one of the city centre's newest cafes.
The eatery, on Bank Street, is run by 23-year-old entrepreneur Alice Cassinelli, who has brilliant multi-tasking skills because she is also the chef, supported by her dad, who takes care of front of house.
I had been invited to take a guest, my partner Ryan, to enjoy Alice’s afternoon tea, usually priced at £19.95 per person. I knew from a chat with Alice this would be a rather special afternoon tea, as it is themed according to the season.
We were served outstanding, unique, flavour-filled homemade dishes that were just as pleasing to the eye as they were to the tongue.
The first dish was a cheese tart. It was more of an appetiser and it definitely did it’s job because after we had eaten it we were eager for what was to come. There was such a great amount of flavour in such a small tart, and Alice had cooked it to perfection so the pastry was light and crisp.
We appreciated that Alice came to the table to greet us and check that everything was okay - a personal touch not usually experienced. It is very clear that, for Alice, being a chef and running the cafe is a passion.
I was given a vegetarian menu, so the open sandwiches I enjoyed next were truffled egg mayonnaise and vene cress, sauteed mushrooms with whipped cream cheese and seasoned tomatoes with balsamic and basil.
Each sandwich was bursting with filling – almost too much as some of it fell off when I picked up each sandwich.
Ryan enjoyed sandwiches filled with poached salmon – which was especially made for him because of dietary requirements - salt beef and ham hock. These are normally served with accompaniments, but Ryan had to forgo them because of his requirements. Not a problem for Alice, though.
The bread must be given a mention as Alice makes it herself on-site daily before the cafe opens. It was beautiful and soft, and also really light. Bread is so much better when it’s homemade, so Alice’s efforts were worth it.
Next came the rock scones with clotted cream and Sheffield jam. My first thought upon seeing this dish was ‘wow’. The rock scone was a reference to the fact that, in keeping with the winter theme, the scone had been given a grey colour to make it look like a rock. Alice told us she had done this using charcoal.
On top of the scone was a generous amount of cream and jam, which Alice told us was her grandma’s. It was another charming family link Alice was clearly proud of, and I have to say grandma’s jam was delicious. I say that as someone who doesn’t normally like jam, but again it was obvious that this was freshly made, so it was unlike any jam I had tasted previously. There’s nothing processed here, just fresh ingredients put together in the most delicious way.
We then moved on to the final course, four incredible desserts; hazelnut pine cone, lemon and poppy seed pebble, strawberries and cream toadstool and raspberry and lime rose.
Alice really did save the best till last with this tray of delights. I almost felt bad for ruining her perfectly crafted dishes as I excitedly dug my spoon in to each one. Each one was better than the last and I loved the contrast between the rich chocolate and then the sharper lime taste and fresh fruit flavours. It was divine and felt like a real, indulgent treat. You must go enjoy this afternoon tea.