Across from the Sony centre, nestled between Pièrre Cardin, Chez Julie and the Osu Food Court, which is currently closed for renovation, Sunshine Café and Salad Bar looms unpretentiously on the Oxford Street.
The building is a generic structure, and used to host the former ‘Top-In-Town’ Supermarket. A humble, undistinguished exterior, with a warm, inviting and eclectic décor, well-illuminated with bright orange walls. They haven’t merely adapted the classic ‘deli’ design but instead re-designed the space to have a spacious, dining room, a juice and drinks bar and a take-out, salad area.
With seating for about 25, the establishment offers a wide variety of appetizers, sides and meals on its menu. The manager is an affable host. She often makes sure that everything is prepared from scratch and often found having a hearty chat with customers; a very hands-on and friendly manager at that.
The food at Sunshine is simple yet varied, is matched only by its genial purveyors, who make all sandwiches, salads, homos and milkshakes fast and fresh to order. Breakfast, sandwiches, fresh sausages and cheeses, bread and waffles, pastas (dry and fresh), all at a great price (average price of GH¢ 5.00).
On a warm, bright Saturday, you can walk into Sunshine and get the perfect buffet: vermicelli rice, vegetable sauce and chicken in tomato sauce with a side dish of fresh crisp salad — all served hot, immaculately garnished, and ready to eat and at a good price of GH¢8.00. Food portions are generous and there are special ‘dailies’ on offer. Their ‘wraps’ are very delicious and filling. Chicken, salmon and pasta dishes are also on the menu.
This authentic little deli offers some of the freshest and tastiest food on the Oxford Street. The hot, tasty, melt-in-your mouth Sunshine Pizza humiliates most I’ve had elsewhere.
The Hawaiian Salad is a delicious relish and the club sandwich I ordered on this occasion was offered perfectly crisp, fresh and hot; an absolute work of art although the food came late and the waitress, clad in black attire, wasn’t even the slightest bit apologetic for the food taking such an inordinately long time to arrive.
I’ve been at Sunshine countless times since it opened, waiting a few weeks in between, and I can say that while the food is promising, the service is surprisingly bad. The primary problem I encountered on my very first visit was the location and parking space: it’s easy to see when you’re standing across the street, but is very difficult to find when driving from either end of the Oxford Street. Parking can also get quite tricky since the establishment doesn’t offer enough space and since the Oxford Street attracts constant traffic, its best to set out early or yet still find parking space elsewhere.
Then, you sit down… Let me preface my dining experience by stating I’ve been there twice for lunch and have had totally different experiences on both visits.
For the first visit I was seated at one of the booths. The ambience was brilliant, the vibe in there was great; you could easily chat but there was still some good energy coming off the room. I picked the classic club sandwich and found the food to be solid –the bread was fresh and the filling was tasty and adequate. The fries weren’t bland, so I didn’t feel a need to make up for it with excess ketchup or mustard. The service on this trip was ok; the waitresses were clearly disorganised but seemed to want to do the right thing. They were borderline competent, so I reserved judgment for my second visit.
The second visit is where I realised the service is just bad. The restaurant staff that I have encountered on most restaurant visits has been quite enthusiastic and competent but the staff I encountered that day was just indifferent and unprofessional.
The interpersonal interaction is also lousy: they may smile, but they don’t listen. They come right at you with a goal already assumed; they do not interact with you –which in both my visits have resulted in various servers making careless mistakes. Another thing that I couldn’t handle was the response when I asked for the washroom. I was given a look of mock horror mixed with sanctimoniousness as the reply was delivered “Its right at the back, straight down, then turn left, but don’t complain if you see anything there because the water isn’t running.” Lo and behold! What I saw made me want to puke.
With that said, the food on my second visit was also good. I went for the rice and chicken curry sauce and the food was assembled in a way that let the, rice and sauce and salad work together. The chicken curry sauce was actually the most pleasant surprise: it had a subtle flavor instead of the saucy overkill of most curry dishes.
So, there you have it, Sunshine Salad Bar: good food served by one of the most dysfunctional serving staffs I’ve seen in years. Perhaps, they’ll fix the service problem in the future. The concept of a ‘deli’ is still pretty much, a new and recent addition to the Ghanaian dining scene and hasn’t yet permeated the culture here, so perhaps, this establishment is a much-needed oasis in the vast dining wasteland that is Accra. Since they’ve got the best pizza ever, I’d say, it’s definitely worth a visit.