Hey all! Welcome to our second post about "where to find the perfect Brunch in Manchester city centre" (check part one here). An important notice is that some places are playing fast and loose with the term “brunch” since their menus offer an immense variety of food. Anyways, we played fair and stuck to the dishes commonly categorized as brunch: eggs, bread-based dishes, french toast, pancakes, waffles, cakes and all their variants.
For those of you who missed my previous post (part 1), the idea here is to try the best brunch spots around the city centre and write a review (from 1 to 5 stars) regarding their food quality, atmosphere and presentation. Although I am no food expert, the idea is to orientate and help friends and foes on their quest to find a place for brunch that aligns with their tastes. without further due, let's continue our review with Another Heart to Feed, Takk and Cafe North.
66 Shudehill, Manchester M4 4AA
Definitely one of the most famous Brunch spots around the northern quarter is Cafe North. You'll probably have to queue for a while if you want to grab a table, although they have some things available to take away if you are in a hurry. The expectations were really high on this one since it was recommended by a lot of our friends. So, we had to go twice to have a real taste of the big variety of dishes they offer.
With a long coffee bar, the decor of the place is smartly styled with simplistic decoration, nothing eye-catching but looks great. The atmosphere of the place is great. Always full at brunch time, buzzing with people and life. Although this is counterproductive most of the time since they have a delay in the kitchen. Sometimes the service might seem a bit rude; they tend to be in a hurry to make some space for newcomers. The tables are pretty comfy, I liked those family booths at the back. Dishes have a pretty standard presentation, sandwiches come with a small decorated salad or maybe some small detail while sweet dishes like waffles or pancakes come with lots of sauce, fruit, and cream as toppings and decorations. Almost every other dish has practically no presentation at all (which for me is all right as long as the dish is tasty).
Regarding the food, generally speaking, it is good but there are better spots nearby. To be fair, all the sweet dishes we tried were really good: waffles are freshly done and come with a lot of toppings and cream which I love, pancakes are also freshly done and come with a separate sauce for you to pour as you like (although is not thaaat much sauce). My problem was with all other dishes. For all the hype and waiting before getting into this restaurant, sandwiches and toast are simply not worth it for me. The Halloumi sandwich we tried was sort of cold and the "freshly baked ciabatta" did not taste fresh at all. Then, we ordered the scrambled egg and Scottish smoked salmon which again didn't feel freshly done. You know that taste you get when you defrost some meat that's been just too long in the fridge? we had that same taste when we ate this salmon. The shakshuka was decent but had nothing worth mentioning. Smoothies were really good tho.
Overall, having to queue for so long to get in and having to wait a lot to be served, we concluded that this place is highly overrated.
Another Heart to Feed
10 Hilton St, M1 1JF or 220 Burton Rd, M20 2LW
I will be completely honest with you straight away, this is one of my personal favourites.
Sitting in a lovely spot on Stevenson Square in the heart of the Northern Quarter you will find this gem of a restaurant. Be aware tho! you will have to queue for a bit before getting in, it's rare not to see this tiny restaurant full. If you are in a big group you got to be patient, they aren't very efficient when distributing the tables (I haven't been on the West Didsbury spot yet so this post will focus on NQ only).
This small Cafe has a modern vibe; its smooth mix of hardwood and brick decor combined with marble tables, plus its selection of natural wines from around the world, makes you feel in a fancy-elegant restaurant. Be careful when arriving late because they are open almost all day but serve food only until 14h00 (it is basically a wine bar afterwards). There is only 1 beer option I believe (at least last time I was there).
The first time we came to this restaurant I was a bit upset because we were a group of 6 and they took ages to let us finally in. My disposition was not good at all. Things started to change when we saw the menu and improved because the staff was super friendly with us. The variety of food is not that much since the kitchen is small. Over the years, I have come to the realization that restaurants with smaller menus are generally better: they specialize in what they serve and tend to be pretty good at it. Of course, this was no exception. This place is always buzzing with people but the atmosphere is chill. Every time I wander around this area I see it's full at brunch time and, although you have to wait to get in, the kitchen is pretty quick. I haven't yet experienced a delay when ordering.
Now my favourite part: FOOD. Almost every dish comes with some sort of presentation, being it in the form of grated cheese, sauces, caramel, cream, toppings or even some sort of drawing in your cappuccino that overall makes what you ordered look nice. Yes, I was a bit upset and hungry when our food arrived. But pretty much everything we ate exceeded our expectations and my bad humour completely vanished. This place simply doesn't try to be instagrammable but allows its food to speak for itself. What started to earn our respect was the "French toast with wild mushrooms, creme fraiche, poached egg and truffle oil". Crunchy on the outside, pillowy soft on the inside, this dish does to the french toast what Italian grandmothers do to pasta. Mamma mia!
The Shakshuka (which for my taste is a pretty standard dish in a brunch-type restaurant) was quite nice. It tasted perfectly fresh and had a touch of za'atar (Syrian Oregano) that made it delicious. Plus, you can add a non-vegan option of chorizo if you fancy (which was a great touch given how hungry I was). Finally, the French Toast Heaven we ordered "as a dessert" didn't let us down either. It was really soft on the inside (but didn't need to be soaked thanks to the compote and maple added) and had the right amount of topping (which almost every restaurant fails to accomplish).
Simply put, I will definitely come back to this restaurant whenever I am around the NQ at noon.
Takk (University Green)
138 Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9GP
This is a bonus review since I wasn't even planning to write about this restaurant, but when I came here while on a visit to the University of Manchester I had the luck to try their brunch. It was so incredibly tasty that I had to come back another time. That was when I convinced myself to write this review. When doing some research, I found out they have another two locations around Manchester city centre which I have never been to (or seen yet). Here are both locations in case you were wondering 6 Tariff Street, M1 2FF and Unit 1 - Hatch, Oxford Road, M1 7ED.
Completely overshadowed by its big neighbours Five Guys and Brew Dog, chances are you will miss Takk at first glance. Or you might think that this is just another tiny cafe lost underneath the AMBS's building (Alliance Manchester Business School). To be honest, I ended up here by chance since I was searching for a coffee spot with some wifi and power to plug my PC and wasn't going to hit a burger or a pint at 11 am on a weekday. So, I decided to give this small cafe a chance and I do not regret my decision.
Takk has a relaxed vibe which blends with its surrounding student atmosphere. With a minimalist industrial decor (maybe taken to an extreme), there isn't anything particularly outstanding in its decoration; there are wooden tables for 4 or long picnic-style banquet tables that you share with people you don't know, there are really uncomfortable stools to sit on, a lot of movement from people buying stuff to take away and a bit of food smell because the kitchen is open (you can see how much effort the cooks put on every dish tho). The place is crowded with students and some staff of the University so they adjusted their opening hours accordingly (from 8h30 to 17h00 and closes on weekends). I know, all this might make you think the experience won't be very enjoyable.
Then, you approach the counter and you see smiles everywhere. The staff are nice, really helpful when ordering and pretty efficient when delivering the food or brewing some coffee. Since the kitchen is super small, the variety of dishes you can order is a bit limited but pretty decent (with vegan options as well). They seem to bake their own products, all I have tried and seen is super fresh (so far) and there are lots of baked-product options. Prices are relatively fair, although students might disagree on this one (funny how they are willing to pay more for a burger or junk food elsewhere). Dishes and coffee are presented in a minimalist yet elegant fashion.
After ordering, you can sit down and you'll be surprised by the top-notch service. The turnaround on orders is incredibly quick. They take no time to bring the food to your table. The first time, I ordered the "grilled polenta topped with mushrooms, spinach and hazelnut pesto" and it simply blew my mind. I was taken away by the mix of texture and taste of this delicacy. An extremely well-combined after-taste for the strength in the pesto, vegan parmesan cheese and spinach softened by the grilled polenta and fresh mushrooms. You can add a poached egg as a topping if you fancy (please do). Unfortunately, I have no pictures because everything happened so fast that I started eating and completely forgot to take pictures (as mentioned earlier, I wasn't in the reviewer mindset either).
The second time I was around the University I went to try the polenta once again. Unfortunately, they were out of stock. So, I decided to give the "Salmon on Rye" a try and test the quality of the restaurant as a whole. A nice choice once again. Although a bit small, the pollen 100% rye was an outstanding piece of bread. The topping of smoked salmon (which was super fresh) and beetroot, washed in dill yoghurt and lemon vinaigrette, was the perfect combo for a brunch option. Since I was hungry, adding a chocolate chip cookie (big and fresh) and a cappuccino was a must.
Overall, I loved this place. You can see the dedication of the people involved in every product, which of course tastes delicious. Thumbs up for this little cafe! (I promise I'll upload a picture of the polenta soon).
Hope you find this section useful! the plan is to help you choose your next brunch experience so we will keep adding more posts over time. Stay tuned for the next couple of spots!