First impressions can be tricky and are often made in haste. But isn’t it quite wonderful when the negative thoughts you had about somewhere turn out to be deliciously wrong?
If you live in Manchester, I’m almost certain you will have passed by Cafe 19. Found on Lever Street, on the very cusp of the Northern Quarter, this eatery-come-bar-come-cafe leaves a lot to be desired from its outer shell. I had been to the opening and was intrigued by how it had been getting on since it’s launch 12 months ago; a lunch break with one of my best friends seemed like the perfect occasion.
From the outside, Cafe 19 looks a little basic, a little 90s (but more Byker Grove than F.R.I.E.N.D.S), with very little of its personality shining through.
Step over the threshold however and discover a charming nook; with cosy armchairs, spacious booth seating and exposed Edison lightbulbs warming the light, bright, friendly space.
The menu is simple, but cleverly crafted with a mixture of home comforts and classic lunch-time pleasers. Eager to eat, we placed our orders at the bar and nestled back into our booth to catch up on the latest.
We giggled and gossiped, cutting in between each other’s sentences as though we hadn’t seen each other in years rather than just a week, excited to enjoy an impromptu golden hour of each other’s company.
In no time at all, our dinner arrived. Cajun Chicken Panini for Em, and for me…
Something a little more gram-able…
An open bagel, toasted and smothered generously with fresh, smashed avocado; grilled halloumi and poached eggs. Sun-dried tomatoes and a balsamic reduction danced around the outer rim of the plate for added finesse.
The outcome was sheer perfection. Nothing too challenging admittedly, but executed excellently with extra care taken to enhance the flavours of the core components of the plate.
Should you find yourself in need of some midday sustenance, Cafe 19 is well worth a second look. A relaxed setting with speedy service; no need to book, just show up with an appetite and your bestie and good times are guaranteed.