Updated: Dec 19, 2022
If you haven't noticed, then you haven't been around the city centre around 12h30 pm on any given weekend! And of course, you are missing out on the hundreds of "random" small cafes and cosy restaurants that are rapidly popping up everywhere (you aren't paying much attention to your surroundings while walking, are you?).
Well, this is your lucky day. We've recently decided with some #foodie friends that we were going to try the best brunch spots around the city centre and give them grades regarding their food quality, atmosphere and presentation. We took the challenge into our hearts and gave our best effort in the process. Chill out, people! we are no food experts but we definitely got some decent taste (or at least we think so). Here are the results of our amazing experience so far (hungry-lazy people, this one's for you!).
Richmond Tea Rooms
46 Sackville St, Manchester M1 3WF
The fanciest brunch on our list, this is a "proper English Tea Room Experience" (at least for tourists). With its set of flowers and proper colouring, this is the preferred spot for girls to gossip while having a Cuppa Tea (or maybe it's just my wife and her friends). When entering this Tea Room, you will feel like you've been transported to Alice in Wonderland or to some sort of fairy tale where everything is pinky and shiny, with lots of flowers around the place. You might feel like you are a bit underdressed for the occasion (I have been told that they have themed Tea Parties but have never seen one yet, you might want to check their website for these kinds of events).
The Tea Room has the best presentation I have seen so far: cakes and tarts look so great that you sometimes wonder if they are real or fake. Cups are made of porcelain, crockery seems extremely posh (I am no expert to judge that tho), the decor of the place is pretty cheerful and some of the options come in a super nice three-tier cake presentation. The atmosphere is quite nice but the place is almost always full, so you might want to make a reservation beforehand.
Regarding the food, generally speaking, it is good. I could say that scones are pretty good, although one time we got some that weren't very fresh and this completely downgraded our perspective of the quality of the restaurant. I would say that cakes are the best thing about Richmond Tea: definitely money well spent because portions are very generous and they are delicious (at least the 5 types we tried). Tea variety, as the name of the spot suggests, is astonishing and their quality is superb. They bring a big fancy Tea Pot where you can refill your cup a couple of times.
Ezra & Gil
20 Hilton St, Manchester M1 1FR or 49 Peter St, Manchester M2 3NG
This restaurant caused big discrepancies in our group. The dishes were extremely different in quality, so I have mixed feelings while writing this review. Be aware when you visit: the menu varies a lot depending on the hour of the day! They have Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch and Evening menus, so watch out.
This Cafe has a smart atmosphere; with its smooth hardwood flooring and bar, its "handwritten" papyrus-menus hanging on the back wall and a fair variety of food choices in plain sight for ordering right away, it makes you feel in some sort of coworking space were a unicorn start-up is going to launch anytime. The vibe is modern casual yet trendy, so you might have to queue to enter. No worries, the process is pretty quick (at least the few times I've been there). From the outside, it seems a pretty small cafe but when you get inside you'll realise it can fit quite a big number of people altogether (both St Peter and NQ).
As previously mentioned, Ezra & Gil has an outstanding variety of dishes, but I daresay their area of expertise is Cafe, Brunch and Breakfast. Presentation varies immensely regarding the sort of food you order but the pancakes, brunch and cafe-related dishes have a very "contemporary" display. Focusing solely on the Brunch food we ordered, this is the most engaging food presentation I've seen so far: Dishes had quite an awesome display with sauces, cream or fruits adorning each one of them. Special mention to the smoothies because they look and taste awesome (check the pictures!).
Foodwise, the tendency was the same as the presentation: Breakfast and Brunch-related food were awesome but lunch was “meh”. The thing that caught my attention the most was the #Foccaccia, for £3.5 a piece, I have never tried an oven-baked Italian bread that horrible in my entire life (and I have been in some dodgy places when it comes to food). I think we were unlucky because the "bread" wasn't fresh; it was really dry, hard and untasty (and this negatively affected my overall grade). Apart from that terrible experience, what I enjoyed the most was the Brioche French Toast, a fairly standard dish you might think but the whole mixture of cinnamon, vanilla mascarpone and fruit over that nice display just hits different (yes I have a sweet tooth). Although a bit pricey, the Salmon on Farmhouse Toast was nice, a classic brunch toast with those delicious poached eggs (which are now a must-have on any brunch occasion) and a special sauce that makes everything come together nicely. The Poke Bowls are pretty nice, warm and fresh produce in general but nothing outstanding or too risky. The pasta we ordered was a mistake (my humble opinion), although it wasn't bad or untasty, I firmly believe that pasta must be ordered in Italian restaurants only.
We really hope you find this section useful! the plan is to give you the tools to choose your next restaurant so we will keep adding more posts over time. Stay tuned!