There are two hard and fast rules for anyone planning a lunchtime trip to Sunshine Bakery.
One: mind your table manners. Two: save room for cake.
Adhere to these principles and you’re guaranteed one of the most enjoyable daytime dining experiences available in this corner of Leeds. Ignore them at your peril.
Rule two, in particular, should be respected at all costs. Anyone who fails to take note deserves to be sectioned immediately.
A peeling painting on the window of the Harrogate Road café boasts of the National Cupcake Champion title it won in 2010/11. I’d love to know who’s taken the prize in the years since – the cupcakes at the Sunshine Bakery are manna from heaven.
Rule one is dictated by the cosy (small) dimensions of the place. There is barely room for the half-dozen tables inside.
Disregarding the basic interior design maxim that you shouldn’t clutter up small spaces, the walls are covered in framed pictures, embroidered patterns, chalk boards and shelves filled with antique tea sets.
Many of the pictures are already lopsided, but I did my best to ensure that the ones next to our table were left well and truly wonky by elbowing them intermittently.
It’s certainly not a polished interior – some of the paintwork on the walls is chipped and the chairs look bashed about. But that’s all part of its no-doubt calculated charm.
As is the elegance of the service. It’s not often you get a steak sandwich served on a dainty porcelain plate painted with flowers. But that’s how mine came.
Forget the delicacy of the crockery, however. The sandwich itself was anything but. Packed with fabulously tender strips of beef, caramelised onion, roasted pepper, rocket and mayonnaise it was a powerhouse lunch. I chose to have it on a roasted pepper and basil roll, which proved an excellent decision – the homemade bread was doughy and delicious. The combination of flavours was perfect. It didn’t come with anything on the side. In truth it didn’t need to. And, besides, I was conscious of rule two.
My dining partner’s superfood salad was a visual treat. Carefully arranged portions of cucumber, carrot and red cabbage sat alongside humus, cous cous and some hearty pieces of grilled chicken. A dash of French mustard gave a pleasant kick to a plate of fresh, unfussy, feel-good food.
It was appropriate that, as we moved on to our desserts, the orchestral music that was being piped in through the speakers reached a crescendo.
I had the Eton mess cupcake, my dining partner had the lemon and strawberry. The counter also offers slabs of brownie and donuts. You won’t go wrong, whatever you choose; in a café that does most things very well the cakes are, well, the icing on the cake.
Our bill, with a couple of soft drinks, came to £17.
The Sunshine Bakery is small, but perfectly formed. Just remember the golden rules.