Review: The Mad Hatter, Sea Road, Fulwell, Sunderland

The Mad Hatter cafe on Sea Road in Fulwell.
The Mad Hatter cafe on Sea Road in Fulwell.
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NEXT year I shall be a serial bridesmaid.

I’ve been asked to perform the role three times in four months, which means the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of dress trying and buying.

On Saturday, bride number two, aka one of my oldest friends, Laura, found her dream dress at a shop on Sea Road.

Dress sorted, we hot-footed it to the nearest cafe to coo over how pretty the frock is and make further plans for Operation Wedding.

The Mad Hatter proved to be the perfect place for coffee, catch ups and nattering.

It’s got a lovely, laid back feel and is utterly unrecognisable from its former guise as The Village Pork Shop.

Attention to detail seems key in this country cottage-esque cafe and there’s plenty of reminders of the venue’s title sprinkled about, from Alice in Wonderland illustrations on the walls to a giant mad hatter’s top hat perched on top of the Welsh dresser.

Maybe they chose the title because of author Lewis Carrol’s links to the area, or maybe they chose it because it lends itself well to a quirky theme – either way, it works.

The food was typical cafe fare with sandwiches, toasties, paninis, salads, jacket potatoes and some mouth-watering looking cakes.

Breakfast is also served until 11.30am when you can get a Top Hat full English for £4.95, breakfast sandwiches and dippy egg and soldiers for £2.90.

Even though the menu options were as you would expect, their presentation and taste were way above average.

Laura’s mum Lynn and I chose the soup of the day which was courgette and cauliflower.

It’s not a combination I would have ever put together, but boy was it tasty.

It was presented in a charming mini clay soup pot with a slab of French stick to mop up every last mouthful. It was a bargain to boot at just £2.90.

The bride-to-be, meanwhile, enjoyed a corned beef, onion and tomato toastie which is £3.80.

She’d asked for no onions, but the chef accidentally added them so the waitress apologised profusely, had it re-made and knocked her drink off the bill – a nice gesture.

It was tasty and was a generous helping for your pennies.

Laura’s gran Teresa went for one of the sweet options. She’d asked for a scone, but it was late on a Saturday afternoon and they were all out.

Our waitress suggested a rock cake with jam and cream instead which worked perfectly. It was a whopper and well worth the price tag of £1.80.

With Sea Road being struck by a wave of shop closures in recent times, it’s good to see a new business going out on a limb.

Despite this business being on the lesser-visited end of Sea Road, opposite the Royal Marine pub, it’s definitely worth a walk down.

You’d be mad as a hatter not to.