Cheesy chips on High Street West - city cafe's culinary tribute to Sunderland AFC's Checkatrade Trophy final date

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A city cafe has come up with an upper crust way to celebrate Sunderland AFC's Wembley date this month.

The Black Cats will take on Portsmouth in the final of the Checkatrade Trophy at the national stadium on Sunday, March 31.

Hidden Gem Cafe's Francesca Aggio, owner Craig Lynch and chef Naomi Goldsmith try the cheesy chip pies

Hidden Gem Cafe's Francesca Aggio, owner Craig Lynch and chef Naomi Goldsmith try the cheesy chip pies

And now a city centre cafe has come up with the perfect way to celebrate - cheesy chip pies.

Newcastle fans have long mocked Sunderland supporters by claiming chips with cheese are a staple part of the Mackem diet.

But the Wearsiders got their own back during the second successive 3-0 win at St James' Park in February 2014, chanting 'Cheesy chips on Wembley Way' to mark the team's upcoming League Cup final clash with Manchester City.

That day may have ended in disappointment, but the chant has been resurrected since Sunderland secured a place in the EFL Trophy final with a 2-0 win away at Bristol Rovers just over a week ago.

The finished article

The finished article

And now the Hidden Gem cafe in High Street West has launched cheesy chip pies to mark the occasion.

Boss Craig Lynch admitted he was initially sceptical - but a trial run yesterday had proved a runaway success.

"I thought 'Gravy and chips and cheese? No thanks' - but actually they tasted good," he said.

"We did 25 at first, and we put them on Facebook. People have been going past the shop and popping in to pick them up and there have been a few good responses coming in so far.

"A couple of people have had them topped with mushy peas. How much more northern can you get?"

Craig admits that cheesy chips don't work on everything, however: "We did do a pizza, but that did not taste as good as the pies, so that is maybe a work in progress," he said.

Dad-of-two Craig, who previously ran The Corner Flag in High Street West, opened the Hidden Gem last year and is in the process of setting up a new soft play business close by, which will be served by the cafe: "My kids are three and five," he said.

"I've had enough of working late nights."