I’m a big, big fan of weekend brunch (let’s face it who isn’t?) lazy mornings, heaps of fresh avocado, gooey eggs and sumptuous sourdough drizzled with oil and rich balsamic – depending on what you have, brunch is the kind of meal which feels hugely naughty while you’re eating it but doesn’t tend to give you that rotten after-bloat, instead you’re both full and content in the knowledge that you still have the whole bright day ahead of you.
I felt like I’d (almost) tried all the spots in central Manchester too, from Home Sweet Home’s signature fried chicken, waffle and gravy mountain, Teacup’s dippy eggs and asparagus and Sugar Junction’s delectable home-made chocolate brownie and ice cream…but then along came Cafe Bar 19.
Not literally of course, the place has been open for a good while but it’s one of those venues that’s so easy to walk past and dismiss instantly. Unfortunately placed just behind a bus stop on a typically not-so-busy Lever Street, you’d have to be heading there with purpose in your stride as it’s not the kind of spot you’d simply happen upon.
But happen you should.
The bright, homely, woody interior is completely different from the look of the outside and makes you feel immediately relaxed, and the smell that greets you when you walk inside had myself and my boyfriend practically salivating before we’d even set eyes on the menu.
We chose to share a few dishes – the bagel with halloumi, poached eggs and smashed avocado was the tastiest thing I’d had for such a long time. The poached eggs were perfectly cooked, both gloriously gooey centres and whites cooked through, which sounds simple enough to achieve but having (literally) brunched around the block you’d be surprised the amount of revered places that can’t seem to manage it.
Although I love it, on occasion I find halloumi a little too oily but this was beautifully golden on the outside without being absolutely saturated and the delicate-tasting thyme oil that accompanied it (this and the sundried tomatoes) made a heavenly match – and gave the whole dish an air of uniqueness too. What I like about this place is how the guys aren’t afraid to deviate from the standard and are a little creative with their dishes.
Granted, the brunch usuals (eggs benedict/smoked salmon and full english) featured, but they weren’t touted as the shining stars and the dish we were recommended was actually the spinach and mushrooms on sourdough.
Monday to Friday my staple is overnight oats and fruit or maybe a protein smoothie if I’m going for a quick pre-work gym session so the dishes (both of which we shared) made a luxurious change. The balsamic gave the spinach and mushroom dish that added oomph and I would happily go back for it again and again.
Naturally, my sugar-lovin’ peepers had been drawn to the counter brimming with baked goodies and pastries when we first arrived so we had pre-ordered a slice of the lemon and poppy cake to share as a little brunch dessert (not that us piggies needed it after the generously portioned mains, but still, calories don’t count on Saturday.)
The cake was beautifully moist and pretty as a picture, icing dotted with edible violet flowers and the marriment of the creamy filling with the sour lemon was perfect.
One thing I haven’t yet mentioned is the drinks at this place. It’s worth noting that if you’re an early bird and after a brunch cocktail you may miss out as they only serve booze post-12pm (we arrived at 11) but we were heartily recommended the coconut chai iced latte so my partner was eager to oblige while I opted for a classic Rooibos as a refresher.
Naturally, I snuck a sip (or 5) of the chai latte and it was glorious. It was that good we ordered another before departing – the coconutty flavour, sweet but not excessively so, made the most genius and unusual partner for the spiced chai.
I could have drank ten gallons of the stuff and been a very happy lady.
If you’re walking past, I’d recommend you grab one of these babies to take out, if nothing else. You’ll be back to sample the rest of the offering soon enough.