World Peace Cafe, 76 High Lane, Manchester, M21 9XF – Visit Now
Review by Chris Patrick
The World Peace Cafe is part of the Kadampa Meditation Centre in Chorlton, which is itself part of a worldwide network of Buddhist centres founded by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Staffed entirely by volunteers, it ‘runs on kindness’, and offers a relaxed, positive and friendly atmosphere. So, food is a part of it, but it’s not just about food: what’s on offer is a bigger, holistic experience.
The cafe is located well off the main drag, down a street off Wilbraham Road. You ascend some stairs and enter a spacious, clean Victorian building with large windows letting the light in. Artwork is on display and there is a library of Buddhist texts as well as thoughtful supplies of children’s toys and cushions. The impression is of things having been put together carefully and kindly. Even the bell that rings when the door opens is not a metal bell as such but a gentle wooden wind chime.
It’s not just about food – what’s on offer is a bigger, holistic experience
I ordered a coffee, celery soup and an aubergine terrine. The coffee was hand-roasted under a railway bridge by a local company called Mancoco. What you get is a reminder of what real coffee actually is, and why we actually drink it. We were off to a good start.
The soup (generous bowl, thick slices of bread) was also hand-made and you could tell: the ingredients had been carefully chopped to different sizes which resulted in a complex texture. It had also been heated in such a way as to bring out the multiple flavours that celery – yes, celery – has to offer.
It’s worth mentioning two things at this point. A lot of products are now labelled as handmade or artisanal, and most of us have become a bit cynical about what this actually means. As well, the idea of vegetarian food (everything in the cafe is vegetarian or vegan) often makes us ask how much you can really do with some vegetables.
With the coffee and soup here, what hand-made means is precision blending and ‘flavour-painting’ by people who really know what they’re doing, and you get a reminder of what you can get out of celery and a few other ingredients by slowing everything down and letting the food be.
The World Peace Cafe is ideal for anyone wanting somewhere to escape to
The terrine was up next. As someone who wouldn’t call a paté a parfait, I was interested to see how this played out. What you got was something smooth enough to work as a spread, but with a subtle range of textures working through this. Whole peas interacted with sliced tomatoes and peppers, cassava with a touch of chilli. The terrine format brought all these flavours together.
The World Peace Cafe is ideal for anyone struggling with involuntary stresses such as work or parenting, wanting somewhere to escape to. Indeed this is part of the Kadampa Meditation Centre’s mission statement – to provide a place where anyone can come to ‘relax’ but in a deeper way than would be possible at, say, a high-street coffee chain.
For those interested in becoming a Buddhist or already practising and looking for a place to meditate, the Centre offers meditation rooms beyond the Cafe. The high standard of decoration and interior work continues throughout the building – it’s nice to see an old Manchester building properly looked after.
Finally, it’s worth noting for city-dwellers that there’s a space for meditation in the centre of Manchester. This can be found at KMC Manchester at 125 Portland Street.