Evelyn’s Cafe Bar, G18 Tib Street, Manchester, M4 1NB – Visit Now
Spend an hour or so in Evelyn’s and you might just want to spend a few more. It’s casual, it’s friendly and it’s very, very comfortable. It pitches itself as neighbourhood dining, somehow open every single day from 9am until late into the night – but it’s still best known for brunch.
Evelyn’s championed great breakfast when it was set up three years ago
Somehow both in the middle of everything and still feeling secluded and just off the beaten track in its Tib Street location, Evelyn’s championed great breakfast when it was set up three years ago.
Now, brunch is hard. Some, quite reasonably, can’t get their heads around the idea of not eating breakfast in their pants in front of morning TV. What’s more, there are so many different tastes, trends and diets – and doing breakfast wrong, to many, is sacrilege. Unlike lunch or dinner service, there’s no starters or sides for embellishment, or to hide mistakes. You get one shot.
Here at Evelyn’s, gladly, there’s a greater focus on the savoury options on this menu than the tooth-achingly sweet choices of many brunch menus. Those that are listed include pancakes with blueberries, and health-conscious picks like a smoothie bowl, cacao granola and vegan carrot cake.
Dishes available reach ambitiously beyond the standard Full English. More imaginative and international ingredients are woven in like apricot couscous, padron peppers, and merguez sausage – with a particular focus on excellent-looking vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian choices.
It’s possible this round-the-world attitude means less consistency. Sometimes, you have to focus on what you’re good at and settle on a specialism.
Evelyn’s kedgeree is absolutely excellent – a deep bowlful of tongue-tingling spiced rice, smoked fish and onion, garnished with bright coriander and a yieldingly soft poached egg. Yet the shakshuka, sadly, arrived both over- and undercooked – its warming Near East flavours masked by sour not-quite-done tomato, while the baked egg within was solid and grainy.
It’s a disappointment but the dish overall is still quite pleasant, and is served with lots of excellent, crusty sourdough. By looking around at other breakfasters – half there for smoothies and health shots, the other half focusing on morning cocktails and hearty subsistence for their Sunday morning recovery – it’s clear Evelyn’s know what it’s doing and has a capable kitchen.
Their selection of hot drinks is expansive too, from normal teas and coffees for those not looking for a detox, to blue lattes – made of a sort of algae – and exotic hot chocolates. Pushing the boat out a little and seeing what they were capable of, I tried the rose & cardamom latte, which turned out to be a very pleasant drink, lightly fragranced with those popular South Asian flavours, and sweet without being cloying.