Monthly Archives: February 2014

How good does the food have to be to feel back at school? Better than this.

The Eighth Day Co-operative Ltd: 111 Oxford Road, Manchester, M1 7DU

The Eighth Day Co-operative is a vegetarian shop and café that sells an impressive range of raw, vegan and special diet products on Manchester’s busy Oxford Road. More importantly, downstairs they serve you food instead of just selling it.

The café is canteen style which makes it good for a relaxed working lunch but it’s a bit dimly lit and, atmosphere wise, you won’t take much away with you unfortunately. They do manage, however, to squeeze in plenty of customers.

The self-serve salad bar wasn’t particularly adventurous with pesto pasta, assorted leaves and the like but all the dishes were fresh and the box sizes good value. The menu has different daily specials (all vegetarian) ranging from currys to stews and soups to casseroles.

The chana dal was ladled out generously, served thick with lentils and peas. The colouring could have been better with some use of brighter spices as it looked rather unappetising. It also lacked a little kick of flavour. With brown rice though, it was good value and you definitely feel like you’ve had a nutritious meal.

Bean enchiladas were served with a spicy tomato sauce. The sauce was too thin, more like cup-o-soup style, but the enchiladas themselves were bursting with three different types of beans, a cheesy exterior and a little chilli too. On its own, this was filling enough!

A variety of smoothies, juices and shakes are available along with the usual coffees, teas and iced drinks. The ‘Sunshine’ smoothie (banana, strawberries and pineapple) was a pretty pale pink and not too sweet, despite the strawberries though the pineapple didn’t really come through. A chocolate and banana shake was thick without being gloopy and delivered a delicious punch of flavour.

On the whole, the café is quick to serve hot food and has a wide range of vegetarian dishes, all of which can be made vegan. They have many regulars and the staff service is friendly and unobtrusive. The food wasn’t of the best quality and it was all a bit school-cafeteria to warrant a second visit but I’ll definitely be back to the shop upstairs.


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Cultural Heart of Manchester delivers with Classy Combinations

The Cornerhouse: 70 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 5NH

The Cornerhouse is home to some of Manchester’s most interesting art exhibitions, lectures and some brilliant small-release films. Upstairs, however, there’s a place to unwind, chat and eat some casual but very refined and classic dishes.

Service was a little bit slow but it was peak lunch time on a Monday and there were only two floor staff; both were friendly and helpful however, and the polished wood surroundings are pleasant enough to wait in. Despite being busy, the restaurant was fairly quiet and easy to talk and hear in, unlike some places even when they are only half full.

The menu is made up of pizzas, some sandwiches, salads and precious little small plates that you can share with friends or have with some side dishes. There is also an excellent value Worker’s Lunch that includes a meal (a BLT with chips for example, or mushrooms on toast) as well as a drink for £7.50.

The superfood salad wit chicken was beautifully presented and stuffed full with cucumber, broccoli, peas and avocado. The grains were soft but retained their chewy texture and the chicken was tender and added a nice kick with the Cajun spice. Mackerel pate looked pretty in a glass jar and the hunks of toasted granary bread made a big difference than if it had been sliced bread. The mushrooms on toast came with wilted spinach and goat’s cheese, drizzled over a slab of bread in a creamy sauce. The cayenne pepper could have been stronger but it was creamy, chewy and nutty all in one. Finally, there was the wild mushroom macaroni cheese, served well again in a miniature glass dish. The topping was crunchy which added good variety to the softer texture underneath. A portion of chips were well-cooked and coloured but the fingertip lengths were a little too small. The portion sizes may be a little small in places but the prices do not ask for much more anyway.

The Cornerhouse has a great art décor atmosphere and is a lovely place for a casual or quick lunch with friends. They also do deals on films, pizzas and drinks on certain nights. Do not be put off by the sleek and simple exterior; the food here is warming, filling and makes you smile!

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Moose: Where quantity outstrips quality

Moose Coffee: 20 York Street, Manchester, M2 3BB:

This cosy, neutral-coloured diner is a perfect relaxed setting for a weekday brunch or coffee. Situated near Piccadilly Gardens, the exterior is quiet and clean, without the price tags of the Northern Quarter or the many competitors of other areas in the City Centre.The décor makes it almost train carriage-like with wall-mounted wire shelves and steel wall lamps. Dark strips of polished wood finish it off and you’ve got to love the chandelier of antlers and the picture of knights in shining armour with, oh wait, moose heads instead of human ones. The American influences shine through in the diner-style seating but the cream and dark colour scheme ensures nothing is too overbearing.

The menu is American-Canadian inspired with a vast array of breakfasts with potato hash waffles, eggs in every variety, bacon smothered in maple syrup and stacks of fluffy American pancakes. Some of the pairings sound a little strange, like the burger in a sugared doughnut, but Moose assures us they work.

The staff were friendly and quick to serve, though there were a couple of memory mistakes which sometimes made our breakfast a little pained and service took longer than it could have done. A bounty shake hadn’t been mixed properly, leaving the chocolatey coconut mix to be slurped out at the bottom of the glass once you’d washed down the thinner, milkier mixture at the top. The mocha was average but the cream topped it off.

A bowl of homemade granola was overpoweringly sweet, not helped by the side portion of honey. However, the texture was crunchy, the oats well-cooked and the inclusion of different nuts gave it a good diversity. The fact that the waitress served hot milk when it said it came with ‘fresh cold milk’ was another little blip in our dining experience. Presentation was also good in thick lipped bowls with little ramekins for the natural yogurt and honey.

The Vegi Mighty Moose was a whopping potato hash that took up half the plate, served with 2 poached eggs over a griddled tomato and 2 slices of thick brown bread. Flavours of Dijon mustard and garlic pushed through the potato, adding a nice kick, and the egg yolks came oozing out over the white fluffy mountains when pricked with a fork. A well-cooked breakfast but there was nothing to blow us away.

Overall, Moose can offer some wonderfully different dishes, especially for brunch or if you enjoy sweet-savoury mixes, as well as a large range of milkshakes and sandwiches. However, the style is in the chunky portion sizes and American décor so a great place for a bit of fun when you’re very hungry!



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