Evelyns Cafe Bar, Manchester

I haven’t written anything for a while, partly down to laziness and partly because I haven’t felt the desire to review anything. That is until the other day.

I’ve actually visited Evelyn’s twice in the past week – an unhealthy obsession is forming with the place and I can’t remember the last time I actually LOVED somewhere so much that I wanted to return so often.

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Accommodating the space which once was the Northern Quarter restaurant and grocery Superstore, Evelyn’s café bar was reopened last November by the owners of Mughli in Knutsford and Rusholme, who also own The Railway Café and Gin Bar in Alderley Edge and Damson & Co and Queenswood in London.

Evelyn’s is now a light and airy café come restaurant come bar, though is refreshingly different from the rest of the café/bars/restaurants in the Northern Quarter which are trying to pull off the same sort of thing.

The décor consists of pale wooden tables and chairs, including a variety of seating options ranging from delicate round tables, to long wooden benches and bar stool/high table combinations. Along with the sporadic hanging plants, wall displays and the odd tree, it sort of feels like you’re in your Gran’s back garden – but I like that.

Thankfully, Evelyn’s haven’t found the need to conform to the ‘American Diner’ concept which seems to be swamping the Northern Quarter and much of Manchester at the moment – both in style and substance.

Chef Byron Moses has created a menu designed to be healthy-but-not-in-your-face-healthy, and not only is it vast, but so delicious. Aside from a brunch menu and a Sunday lunch menu, the a la carte offerings don’t change (at least, not regularly). This usually means the chefs have the flavours down to a tee, and believe me – they have.

My first visit to Evelyn’s was intended to be a brunch stop. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) we had missed the timeframe by about 20 minutes, so were asked to order something off the main menu. I went for the crispy brown rice with grilled chicken and chilli fried egg. Sounds simple, and perhaps it is, but oh my god did it taste good. Never before has chicken melted in my mouth, but I kid you not – this did.

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Joelle went for a couple of the small plates including the crispy duck with sesame and plum salad, and the Korean fried chicken with chilli. Both were delicious, but it’s safe to say she had food envy. It’s worth noting that two small plates is ample enough food for lunch, perhaps not for a hearty dinner, though.

On this occasion I just had a cappuccino to drink and Joelle a tea, alongside an incredible bottle of table water they offer (for free!) with cucumber and mint – so delicious and refreshing.

Our second visit came not a week later when my mum was up to visit from Derby. We were so impressed the first time round, we couldn’t think of anywhere better to take her after dragging her round the sights of Manchester. We walked from the John Rylands Library on Deansgate to Evelyn’s in the Northern Quarter, so were all pretty hangry by the time we arrived.

This time round, it was time to try the cocktails. Myself and Joelle had a tangarito while mum went for a tropical caipirinha. Both were absolutely delicious, and I mean D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. So delicious in fact, we ordered another each after about fifteen minutes. Who doesn’t love afternoon drinking?

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Yet again the food didn’t disappoint. Without going too much into what we all ate, (I think you get the idea, just go.) we all thoroughly enjoyed our meals. Joelle got over her food envy by ordering the same thing I had the week before, mum had a couple of small plates (including the duck on Joelle’s recommendation) and I went for a veggie main. I’m not even a veggie but it sounded SO GOOD. That’s when you know a menu is top notch. Literally everything sounds delicious.

We also gorged on puddings – which was perhaps even the tastiest part of the whole experience; and found it difficult to move for a while after.

On both occasions the staff was fantastic; attentive without being intrusive, and extremely friendly and knowledgeable. We must have asked what felt like a hundred questions to our waitress who happily answered them all.

To sum up, I have absolutely no negative comments about Evelyn’s, which I think is the first time I’ve ever honestly been able to say that about somewhere. I hope they keep the great food, service and atmosphere up and I will be returning very shortly. (Let’s face it, probably this weekend.)

Fifteen out of five stars.

www.evelynscafebar.com

@evelynscafebar

 

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