Im a former English teacher, currently working in the world of galleries, museums and cultural services. More importantly I'm a dad and husband on the lookout for family friendly activities.
Published September 9th 2014
A little slice of wonder, with a huge slice of cake
The Sugar Deli Café in Scarborough is a rare gem. When you walk up to the front door it is fairly unassuming, even with the upside down chairs nailed to the roof above. My first thought was that they were trying a bit hard and the inside would be very ordinary, but my wife, who had been there before, insisted and so in we went, dragging the kids along with protests that McDonalds would be better.
The chairs and tables at the front are nice and relaxed, and a great place for reading the paper in the sea breezes or people watching, and the couple there when we entered looked very entrenched and content. The service counter is fairly standard with a few nice touches, but as you go deeper down the rabbit hole it grows ever more quirky and fabulous. The decor is a very eclectic mix, but is all quality, and achives a retro chic that is often attempted and just as often fails. Look around the room and you will get a 1920s vibe with a warm and wonderful touch of grandma's house (there are even hand knitted blankets over the back of the chairs). We went on a lovely warm day but the fire place in the corner must be delightful in winter.
As we found our table our kids were welcomed with smiles (sadly not always my experience in more upmarket cafes) and we were brought the menus and then left to peruse them in peace. The menu itself is a little limited at lunch for my taste, but we were primarily there for the cake so only wanted a small meal to share anyway. Like magic our waitress came back just as we were lowering our menus. How she did this without loitering I will never know.
We ordered the Calamari with a side of chips. At this stage I have to say this is not a discount café. The calamari was $17 and while it was spectacularly fresh, well cooked and seasoned just right, it certainly wasn't a huge serve, and the very tasty thick cut chips were an extra side at about $5. Since we were not overly hungry, and wanted to save room for cake anyway, this did all four of us very well, and the speed it came out was also very impressive.
The best thing about our meal was that it introduced us to their plateware policy, of which I am a massive fan. They serve on a missmatched selection of fine china including willow, noritaky, shelley etc just to name our china on the day, and even better rather than excluding the kids our waitress chose special plates with pictures for them, and explained that our son's was her favourite since it had a forrest on it. She told us that the owner is constantly antiqueing and, with a gentle laugh, told us that the owner gets quite upset when one breaks. The fact that she trusted our kids (4 and 6 years old) to look after their plates, and us to look after our kids, was a genuine surprise and pleasure. It also had the desired effect and our kids respected the plates they were given and ate a great lunch.
After lunch we got a gelato each for the kids and my wife ordered a hot chocolate while I ordered the licorice mint tea. Then it was onto the cake. I know I have waxed rather poetic about this place thus far, but I have saved the best for last. The cake here is famous in the region not just for its very high quality but also for its size. A piece of cake is $13 and the range is wonderful, but come prepared, this is not a slice of cake for one. It is at least twice the height of a normal cake (significantly more if you have a stacked cake, of which the passionfruit merangue looked stunning), but is also at least twice as wide. They also boast a Lamington which is the size of 6 normal lamingtons, which is a wonder to behold. We had the chocolate silk cake, which was served with cream and berry compote, and on another set of wonderful china plates. My daughter got the prized pink willow pattern, keeping it fair between the kids without us even having to ask.
When our drinks arrived we had done a fair bit of damage to our cake, and the drinks break was welcomed. My wife's hot chocolate came with two marshmellows (quickly stolen by our kids) and was apparently rich and delicious, but my tea came out in a house shaped teapot, evoking further wonder from our kids. My son's comment "Does a smurf live in there?" drew a laugh from our waitress. The tea, incidentally, was also delicious and just the right note for the end of the meal.
I thought that about the cake too until I thought about it a bit more. If you were out with three or four people and each ordered a slice of cake you would probably pay around $5-$6 per slice, so as long as you are sharing it it works out pretty reasonable per person. You do have to all want the same type of cake though.
Unfortunately when l visited approximately three months ago, the cakes were generic, and everything very expensive and l am sorry to say rather untidy. Your photos make it look fab and perhaps things have changed for the better.