The Northern Quarter has a new coffee lounge and lifestyle store that’s a long way from the grimy, unnamed, unbranded, shops and bars that used to pop-up here. Carefully curated, Porter + Cole is perhaps more Didsbury-esque than NQ in its approach, but it’s quite at home with its equally grown-up neighbours The Northern Quarter Restaurant, and 63 degrees*.
Opposite the Holiday Inn, on High Street, it’s on the very edge of the Northern Quarter. The space is a sprawling one-level affair on the ground level of the new One Smithfield Square apartment block, with the lifestyle store mostly situated in the entrance, and seating further in with plenty of places to sit by the large windows. The space is punctuated with a strikingly elegant metallic counter and is dressed, right down to the cushions, with items for sale.
After a quick Instagram scan, it seems Porter + Cole takes its name from the owners’ dogs of the same name (there’s Cole, under the table, in the image below). Perhaps, after all, this is the new Animal Quarter, with the Cat Café (I know it’s heaven for some but I shudder at the thought of it) a few yards away. Although, I don’t really think that’s the intention here. Anyone who spends any time in the NQ at all, must’ve noticed by now that a bar is simply not worth its salt, unless dogs are welcome. Well, the tables have finally turned and dogs Porter + Cole have merely allowed us humans to be welcome at their gaff. Thanks, lads.
We’re here for lunch and the menu is small, which always inspires hope although the hot food offering fails to rouse us today. The ‘Sexy Pie’ from the fabulous Otto-Men will no doubt be a hit, but it’s currently only available on Saturdays… sigh
The cakes on the other hand get me up and out of my seat. The offering is patisserie based: there’s vegan and refined sugar treats from Nicely Kitchen, including banana bread, and a whole array of pastries from Choux Choux Patisserie including delicate and decadent cakes, a variety of tarts, and shimmering eclairs. This is really what I want with my coffee and I have to restrain myself from ordering one of each.
We share the banana bread that’s light, nutty and flavoursome, and a raspberry and pistachio tart that’s as fresh as it is sweet and incredibly good; what they have here are probably the best pastry offerings available in the NQ.
The coffee is brewed with Heart and Graft and is of very good quality too although I flush with drink envy when I see two glasses of chilled rose being carried out in stunningly elegant minimal wine glasses (that you can buy, I checked!) The alcohol offerings are thoughtfully pared-down: there’s a selection of high quality spirits, Cloudwater beers, and a few choice wines, and that’s enough to get us back in after we’ve been shopping.
I like what they’ve done with the space here: it’s minimal, well-designed and full of interior treasures. The products on sale range from high-end pieces for the home, to Porter + Cole branded products like candles and scents, and familiar treats like Mast chocolate and Cereal magazine.
Porter + Cole
124 High Street, Manchester, M4 1HQ
*Sadly, after writing but before publishing this post, I found out 63 degrees Limited has gone in to liquidation, so it might not be around for much longer.