Appearances can certainly be deceiving. From the outside, this tiny café on a busy street in Crookesmoor — the student hub of Sheffield — with steamed up windows and a shabby-chic appearance, looks like any other café. But since 2015, Greek-inspired Alyssum Café and Bistro has made its name as the go-to brunch and lunch spot in Sheffield, not just because of the beautifully presented drinks and dishes, but for its quirky aesthetic and friendly staff.
The walls, decorated with botanical dark green patterns, are covered in mirrors and plants, while the ceiling is lined with fairy lights. It’s usually pot-luck as to whether you’ll get a seat, but this time my friend and I struck lucky and were seated straight away at one of the six rustic wooden tables. Minutes later, the queue began to form. Even when it’s full, the small café doesn’t feel cramped and the staff, although clearly busy, took the time to make sure we understood the menu and explain that all their food was made to order.
We ordered coffee, which was brought to us in pretty floral cups. The coffee art (in the shape of hearts) prompted my friend to immediately pull out her phone and snap a picture. While small, the menu has you covered from breakfast through to late lunch. Being a regular diner at Alyssum, I confidently ordered their smashed avocado sourdough toast, topped with griddled halloumi and two perfectly poached eggs (£7.80). My friend opted for the breakfast bowl (£7.90) she had spotted on the opposite table.
Our brunch arrived on pretty plates that matched perfectly with our china coffee cups and it was easy to see why Alyssum’s aesthetic has become such a selling point. My eggs on toast looked like a work of art, practically asking for a photo to be taken before I could take a single bite. The poached eggs were cooked perfectly, with a deep orange yolk covering the bright green of the avocado toast. The halloumi, only slightly salty, was griddled to give it a crisp exterior. My friend’s breakfast bowl was met with wide eyes; filled with a lightly-spiced tomato and pepper ragu, topped with two runny poached eggs, crumbled feta and avocado, and served with slices of thickly-cut bread to mop up any remaining sauce.
The brunch portions were certainly filling, but I was determined to try one of Alyssum’s renowned homemade desserts. I convinced my friend that she had room after her hearty breakfast bowl to share a slice and decided on the white chocolate and raspberry vanilla sponge cake — a three-layer sponge filled with raspberry buttercream and topped with white chocolate ganache and chocolate shards. We left feeling very full, but that didn’t stop us from taking home a cheesecake brownie for later and making a promise to ourselves not to wear skinny jeans the next time we go for a ‘small brunch’.
Alyssum Café Bistro
76 Barber Road,
0114 327 6822
What we expected: A tiny café serving tea and cake.
What we got: Authentic Greek dishes and jaw-dropping cakes in an Instagram-worthy setting.
What we wish we’d tried: The Alyssum Breakfast, which gave us serious breakfast envy.