The Mad Hatter, Sea Road, Sunderland

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HIGH Street success stories can be few and far between in today’s financial climate.

But hats off to this charming coffee shop, which is perennially popular.

I don’t even live in Fulwell, but its combination of quirky interiors, fine food and friendly service is good enough to make me shun cafes that are closer to 

In keeping with the name of the venue, Alice in Wonderland is the theme 

Think over-sized hats perched on picture frames, giant cutlery on the walls, teapots filled with flowers, a Welsh dresser housing curiosities and china cups, and pictures depicting scenes from the famous Lewis Carroll novel.

It’s a small venue so it may be worth reserving a table if there’s more than a couple of you, especially on a Sunday when you can pick up a traditional Sunday lunch from £5.95. For little diners, you can even get a baby’s Sunday lunch for £1.75.

There’s a good range on the menu – breakfasts served until 11.30am, brunch served all day, soups, sandwiches, salads, jacket potatoes, scones and afternoon tea.

I chose a Mediterranean salad (£5.50).

Salads can be a hit or miss affair, but this one was perfect.

A chunky wooden board was laden with fresh salad ingredients and slabs of mozzarella peppered with capers for extra flavour.

Olives and a crunchy coleslaw were served in mini pots so you could add them at your leisure.

Even a pot of tea (£1.30) was presented well, in a vintage cup and saucer with a retro-style milk jug.

Cakes and desserts are homemade on site and change daily according to what they’re whipping up.

If you’re after a cute destination with quality food, you’d be mad not to try here.