Lunch at Evelyn’s Café and Bar in the Northern Quarter, Manchester
Situated on Tib Street, just up from North Tea Power, Evelyn’s is up off the street in the lush, open plan industrial setting in what used to be my hairdressers (anyone remember Hedonist? We ended up with one of their green Chesterfield couches after our popping our heads in during their clear out/moving day. They’re Hed Space now) and then after it, Superstore, before Zanna group, who are responsible for a number of other successful ventures, including Indian restaurant Mughli, and Railway Kitchen in Alderley Edge, opened Evelyn’s back in 2015.
While they strategically didn’t change the layout, they did her up, and the decor now has a 1920s botanic garden feel, that makes it seem, at least to me, as though it’s fallen right out of one of my Pinterest boards, with exposed brick, plants hanging everywhere and a cool melange of industrial and natural.
Pleasingly, the restaurant’s open plan layout feels relaxed and there’s a range of seating from an informal couch area, to window seats and dining tables to suit your mood. (As an aside, I’ve read reviews where diners have lustily complained about where they’ve been seated. In my experience, unless a restaurant’s full, the diner has jurisdiction over where they sit, you only need to ask.) There’s also a bar and open kitchen that helps to create a sense of energy and vivacity to this otherwise serene café bar.
We visited at around 2pm and so we ate from the brunch/lunch menu that offers snacks, small plates, large plates, sides and desserts and is heavily influenced by the flavours of Asia with just a hint of NQ (sourdough with everything, yeah?) thrown in.
After very little deliberation, we know a good lunch when we see it, we both ordered the confit duck with potato hash, chutney, spinach, sourdough (what did I tell you?) and a fried egg for £10 each.
In the interim, we ordered wine which was of good quality, dry and crisp, and reasonably priced. Tap water was brought to the table without having to ask for it, too, and that always scores brownie points from me.
Our food arrived and it looked a satisfying plate with that seductive egg on top. The hash had been crisped up in the frying pan, the fried eggs were as they should be: crispy on the bottom and soft on top, the chutney added tanginess and a warming spice that lifted the whole plate. The spinach was on the sad side, a bit wet and could’ve done with more seasoning, but, overall, the dish worked well together and that sourdough came in handy for mopping up what was left.
We skipped dessert and, because we were very much enjoying the surroundings and our drinks, we planned to have another glass of wine and maybe even a cocktail, but as the afternoon lull had hit, service hit a lull, too. I have to say, until that point, service had been attentive and friendly, and I can appreciate that there’s a fine line between leaving guests to enjoy each other’s company without interruption, and appearing to have abandoned them, but on this occasion it crept towards the latter.
The slight issue with the service didn’t ruin our lunch though, it just shortened our stay as we headed out for cocktails at Cottonopolis (another great lunch/cocktails spot) instead.
I’ll be back to sample more from the menu because, slow service aside, what we had was delicious, and well-priced and I enjoyed being able to smell my lunch cooking, see the bartender preparing my drink, as well as the hustle and bustle of other diners, all while being surrounded by plants.
Evelyn’s Café & Bar
G18 Smithfield Building, Tib St, Manchester, M4 1NB
Just enough of what you crave is as good as any feast