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Breakfast mission

Philip Hamer goes in search of some the city centre café’s best breakfasts

Published on March 20th 2008.

Breakfast mission

For nearly forty years I’ve eaten breakfast in Manchester city centre – not every day but lots. I have seen the demise of the city centre ‘greasy spoon café’ as lifestyles changed and national and local government bombarded us with health warnings on café cleanliness and cholesterol.

They offer six breakfasts starting with the awesome American Breakfast. £9.95 buys you a piece of rump steak, 3 pork sausages, 3 slices of bacon, 3 eggs, Bury black pudding, beans, mushrooms, grilled tomato and toast.

Then came the rebuilding of central Manchester and the return of hordes of builders and with that the resurrection of the traditional full English breakfast. Though we will never reach the abundance of full English breakfast cafes in London - I recently counted fourteen in a mile and a half radius from Archway in North London - my trek around Manchester has resulted in an interesting selection.

Bang in the city centre in the Royal Exchange Arcade is Munch (0161 839 4098) where you can buy one of the city centre’s best breakfasts, though this is a shopper’s and not a working man’s café. From early until 3pm, and for the bargain price of £5.65, you can fill up on 2 bacon, 2 sausage, egg, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans and 2 toast. For the same price you can substitute the bacon with 2 veggie sausages. With tables in the arcade Munch is also the perfect people watching café.

Breakfast is taken very seriously at Café North (0161 839 2550) at 66 Shude Hill in the Northern Quarter. They offer six breakfasts starting with the awesome American Breakfast. £9.95 buys you a piece of rump steak, 3 pork sausages, 3 slices of bacon, 3 eggs, Bury black pudding, beans, mushrooms, grilled tomato and toast. This is so filling you’ll be hard pushed to eat anything else all day. You can try the Super North (£7 95), the Big North (£5 95 and my personal favourite, pictured here), the Mini North Breakfast (£3.55), the Big Vegetarian North (£5 95) and the Mini Vegetarian North (£3.55). There is an attractive melange of the new and the traditional here that gives Café North its distinct character. The design of the place is good too, making a visit a real pleasure. Later in the day you can even indulge in beer and wine.

You are very likely to see the distinctive high-vis jackets of the city’s re-builders at Essys two cafes at 17 John Dalton Street (0161 832 3588) and 31 King Street West (0161 832 4635) where £3.40 will buy you a traditional full English Breakfast. Essys (£4) is my favourite. You can also sample the American (£3.50) or the Farmhouse (£3.80). If builders are discerning breakfast scoffers, and they probably eat more traditional breakfasts than anyone else, there were certainly no complaints here.

For future reference, Nexus Art Café (0161 236 0100) on Dale Street is putting on a breakfast spread for anyone and everyone to tuck into on Sunday 6 April. The breakfast buffet will be a canteen style setting with all the ingredients for a full English breakfast. Nexus is owned by Central Hall, the Methodist church above, and they want to promote a community spirit in the Northern Quarter. And the price? This is the genius thing: it’s as much as you can afford to donate.

So out of all these which is my overall winner. Well it’s a toss up between Munch and Café North but I’ll give it to the latter for their splendid range of cholesterol classics.

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66 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

ktfairyMarch 20th 2008.

Cafe North is OK - but it's not the OK Cafe. Nothing better than a breakfast here with a good old bit of f..ing and blinding coming from the staff. I love the OK Cafe and wish they hadn't refurbed!

phil HopMarch 20th 2008.

This article has so wetted my appetite for a great breakfast ! Will be heading for one in the city over Easter!

RLXMarch 20th 2008.

Spawnmeister666 – Abergeldie is cheap. The food is cheap. If you cant afford to pay a decent price for your breakfast then go to places that are cheap. You clearly don’t appreciate the amazing breakfast from Cafe North. At least with Café North you can relax in a warm environment rather than freezing half to death every time the wind blows the door of the Abergeldie open. When you have been to the Abergeldie and other cafes of its sort you come out looking and feeling as dirty as the places are. When was the last time Abergeldie seen a mop? – and no, were not talking about the staffs hair do’s Pete – Sterile feeling? Its called clean! Learn the difference and stop being so stupid! At Café North the food might take a while to come (WHEN ITS BUSY) but at least its cooked properly, from fresh, rather than being re heated or kept in a greasy pot that hasn’t been washed since the café opened. Ilovebreakfast – yet another looser with not enough money to afford a decent breakfast, or decent taste, café North is the only café in the Northern Quarter that doesn’t look cheap! Suggest you go to spec savers then take your self back to one of your greasy dirty cafes to indulge in bacon which is 3 days old, probably had a visit to the floor and covered in bits of god only knows what! And “just for the record” Café North’s food is griddled, fresh on order. So erm… yeah? Definitely NOT fried.Spawnmeister666 – Before you broadcast your humble opinion I suggest you visit the places your attempting to slate. (If you can afford it) You might just like it!!

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

Just goes to show how wrong writers can be he plumped for cafe north which has had the worse reviews from people, perhaps he never ate at any of these places because he certainly did not have to pay for the expensive breakies that he had. I personally think weatherspoons wins hand down on all counts esp cost.

ilovemcrMarch 20th 2008.

one word " trof! "

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

The staff have been excellent at cafe north and the decor is fantatastic. Never had a problem and would recommend them

ilovebreakfastMarch 20th 2008.

Cafe North is a disgusting waste of space, the service is terrible, the decor is cheap and the food is either slow coming or wrong. Get it out of the NQ.

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

ilovebreakfast- how about you get out of the NQ you dick!!!!!!!!

elMarch 20th 2008.

Anybody go to Koffee Pot? Wtf is going on with their "toast"? These days it's bread that's a bit brown. I even (politely) commented when I ordered about last time - no change. Massive thumbs down for that.

Jonathan Schofield - editorMarch 20th 2008.

Spawny, you're right of course and we've frequently praised the Koffee Pot. But the writer had to make a choice where to visit and I'll back him all the way with Cafe North. Abergeldie is good but desperately needs a lick of paint and a good scrub.

John S. LockeMarch 20th 2008.

If you want a slightly more swish enviroment on a Sunday morning it has to be Cafe North - I have always had excellent service in there and they also do the best ommelletes in town. For the best sausage and an authentic cafe breakfast it is Koffe Pot . Both in the Northern Quarter...bets food in the best bit of the City yet again!

Stu HillMarch 20th 2008.

Well i think Cafe North is the best place in town for a nice brekkie! You certainly get what you pay for and i've neva had a problem wiv the service, fair enough it has the odd 18yr old who can only mutter, but everywhere in the Arndale also does; but the older staff especially the Irish guy who i think runs it certainly provides service with a smile. It truly is a rich mans Abergeldie. If you want to pay a pound less to eat at somewhere where the plates are dirtier than a workmans boots get to Abergeldies. If not Cafe North wins hands down!

Julie AndrewsMarch 20th 2008.

I agree with Big Rod. Katsouris is tops. Great big sausages, gorgeous to die for mushrooms, bacon that lingers around your taste buds for the remainder of the morning and whilst i'm not sure it all comes from happy animals it will certainly be from a healthier source than the richmond sausage nonsense served at essys. how can anyone walk past my beloved katsouris and dine at essys?

lisaMarch 20th 2008.

I'm SO glad others have already picked up on the ridiculousness of choosing North as the best breakfast!Hideously slow, rude service - in fact, scratch that, NO service at all really; and then you have to wait a ridiculous amount of time for your food which, when you're after a hangover cure, entirely defeats the object as you've shrivelled into a dehydrated mess by the time you're brought ANYTHING.And then the order's wrong.So much potential - nice decor, nice menu, staggering distance from my flat - but AWFUL service.(If only the little caff by the Crown and Cushion was open sundays. Mmm.)

MojoMarch 20th 2008.

I think Cafe North does the best eggs bendicts at the weekend and the Irish manager and his staff are a lovely bunch!! Hail to Cafe North!

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

For my money you can't beat Wetherspoons Farmhouse Breakfast. £3.49 for 2 eggs, 2 sausage, 2 bacon, 3 hash browns, beans, flat mushroom, Tomato and 2 slices of toast & butter. Another 70p for a coffee.

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

thats rowntrees cafe in manchester city centre

SpawnMeister666March 20th 2008.

I feel that I müst state for the record that at no point have I actually slagged Cafe North off for anything, even in fact stating that I hadn´t eaten there myself, and the only problem I had was the incompetent postal service keep sending me the post for Cafe North.........Spawny

JennMarch 20th 2008.

I have to object! I was excited at the prospect of Cafe North (living on it's doorstep) but on the 3 occasions I have visited I've had awful service-from being completely ignored despite there being more staff than customers, a completely wrong order, ingredients missing from my order (stilton burger, no stilton and when asked for the stilton the staff told me they didnt 'think' they had any). Overcharging seems the norm and my personal favorite was when I asked for a smoothie I was met by a filthy look, an audible groan and told 'they take forever!'Katsouris for me it's worth the walk across town!

feel sickerMarch 20th 2008.

Cue? Queue. Spew.

PeteMarch 20th 2008.

Was this article sponsored by Café North? No one in their right mind would say they were the best. The service stinks and has since they opened. The staff are rude, orders often have missing items, it’s dead and sterile feeling, and the food takes forever to come.

mikeMarch 20th 2008.

TROF. End of story.

stop it NOW!!!March 20th 2008.

AGH!!!why tell them all about the Marble, WHY???!!!Don't spoil it...

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

Are you the manager or something RLX? For someone who has nothing to do with Cafe North you're getting very defensive and mardy about all this. I hardly think that making one comment regarding an article featuring Cafe North is 'going on about it'. Thankfully it seems I won't be sharing my hangover with you in classy stylish Cafe North with the respectable people, I'll be drinking my cuppa somewhere a bit greasy with a bit of atmosphere and charm. All your comments have been pretty laughable so far - can't wait for the next comment.

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

I totally agree with em_j, the food at cafe north is spot on. As for the food being deep fried, i think you are in the wrong cafe and maybe got it mixed up with the abergeldie when you come out of that minging place you smell like a fried breakfast!! The manager of cafe north is friendly and he is always pleasant. As for the food running out- that may be due to the high demand of customers- cafe north all the way!!!

PaulMarch 20th 2008.

Wetherspoons my arse i went there and orderd 3 breakies so they had a go at cooking six eggs and failed scorching them on both sides gridle to hot i guessed one of the eggs you could lift the yolk up on its own as it had totaly detached itself all served on a cold plate

LADY RENMarch 20th 2008.

Why are people forgetting the fantastic breakfasts at LOVE SAVES THE DAY, DEANSGATE?!!! A fab little deli hidden away that does the most gorgeous breakfasts around! This is the cure fo all hangovers! Or if like me you sometimes fancy a beer with your brekie (nice) go to another hidden treasure on ROACHDALE ROAD - THE MARBLE ARCH - not much from the outside but one of the best and most traditional pubs in Manchester with the best juke box and lovely food! Smiles all round!!

MMarch 20th 2008.

'Munch...a bargain £5.95'!!!why get a chap who's used to paying nodnol prices to review brekkies that should cost well under a fiver?I'm with Spawny - Linda's Pantry is the way forward.Good honest scran and local grafters not toffeenosed nouveau rich who presumably say that breakfast is the new dining out.Forza greasy spoon!

RLXMarch 20th 2008.

considering i dont work at cafe north i think it would be quiet difficult for me to serve you wouldnt you think?if you dont like somewhere why go on about it? people that go to cafe north have a bit more class and respect about them than those that go to run down cafes that need more than a lick of paint. How can food possibly be honest? its food! all that matters is its cooked properly and from fresh. Clearly you dont know what the food tastes like so you cant comment on "good clean food" can you "anonymous"

BennyMarch 20th 2008.

Would anybody like to contribute their favourite greasy cafes to an online database of caffs? Visit http://www.caffs.co.uk or drop us a line info@caffs.co.uk! Many thanks.

JennMarch 20th 2008.

How difficult is it to provide good service-I'm astonished that the majority of people have encountered terrible service in Cafe North...maybe we're all to blame for not complaining...hopefully they will take note from this feedback!For the record I think Katsouris has the most votes!

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

Cafe north is crap! everything is deep fried and it takes a lifetime to get served and get your food.

fcumleighMarch 20th 2008.

Koffee Pot is the best by far

CowarseMarch 20th 2008.

Happy animals. I like mine dysfunctional and aggressive from broken homes.

HannahMarch 20th 2008.

Just wanted to say thank you to people for putting forward Linda's Pantry in your nice comments. It's an unfortunate fact that we do tend to get overlooked, perhaps due to our location. Even though we got shortlisted for the Manchester Food & Drink awards '08, the only reason we found out about was that I happened to google the name of the caff, nobody had even contacted us about it!!But yes, thanks for your comments and your custom :).

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

Feel have to comment on the slagging Cafe North is getting - yes sometimes you have to wait for your food but thats because its always freshly cooked and as a result tastes great! Breakfasts are great but also plenty of choice and a nice place to sit and relax whilst you are waiting!

JanMarch 20th 2008.

Have none of you ever been to ROWNTREE'S CAFE in the Arndale Centre (High St entrance). It most definitely is the best place for breakfasts (and lunch & dinner) in Manchester. I have worked in Manchester for 25 years and tried every greasy spoon - but always go back to Rowntree's - which incidentally has been in the Arndale for 25 years .. and is always full - so they must be doing something right!!

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

Café North used to be good but it has definately been let down by the staff and service.Walked out the last time after not getting any service for what seemed like forever and ended up eating breakfast in Trof in the Northern Quarter - breakfast is better quality and the srvice is swift and friendly. Go back regularly for breakfast there even though I don't live in the city centre anymore.

SimonCarringtonMarch 20th 2008.

Is the Koffee Pot still as dirty as ever??? or has it been cleaned up now? that really used to put me off going there... "Greasy spoon's" I'm a huge fan of but to find your spoon really is greasy puts me right off.....

JennMarch 20th 2008.

I feel a readers poll coming on...you up for it Manchester Confidential? I'm sure we'll all be happy to do a little research!

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

Just got back after my Big Veggie North at Cafe North - EXCELLENT cafe, excellent breakfast.

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

Cafe North is terrible. I ventured in one morning for a latte to warm me up on the way to work. I was the only person in there and still I waited for what seemed like 5 mins. For a latte! I've worked in coffee shops before and could usually get the coffee in the customers hand in just over a minute. The girl who served me had a face like a smacked backside (infact RLX, are you her? The attitude certainly matches) Needless to say I've never been back so I won't be trying the breakfasts. Style over substance. One place I personally wouldn't recommend is Antonios heading up to Piccadilly Station. Alright for a Hollands Pie whilst waiting for the last train but the breakfasts are baaad! I'll be sticking to the golden oldies (koffee pot, abergeldie) where the walls may need a coat of Dulux but at least the food is good honest food and the staff are brilliant.

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

It has to be good quality meat from happy animals at a reasonable price - Katsouris, Trof orGastro's in no particular order, I suppose its where in town you are when you realise a full English is necessary.

Frank's TrousersMarch 20th 2008.

Cafe North food is great I go about twice a month. service could be a bit quicker, and with more of a smile! Also if you go too late they tend to have run out of veggie options - but is this punishment for being a laxy bint?

em_jMarch 20th 2008.

Cafe North is the best breakfastin town. If you stagger in there after a night out you can always have hair of the dog with three beers for a fiver to wash the delicious breakfast down. The food is always freshly prepared and really delicious. Cafe north all the way

Big Rod the BuilderMarch 20th 2008.

KATSOURIS on Bridge St does a really top breakfast for a great price. The quality of the food is excellent. Quality cuts at quality prices.

simonMarch 20th 2008.

Hold on a minute we are talking about Cafe culture here or greasy spoons, Cafe North opened we went and had breakie good but the service was a little slow, what came out you could not criticise. They asked where we worked and we said (just over the st) within a week we were having meetings their with customers and staff. They offered a discount for CO-op staff over the street which I thought was a cracking idea. Now there is a difference before cafe North I went to the Abergelde, come on we are talking a different league here. Cafe North has a slow service but the food is great and the range is good. If you pay peanuts at cafes/greasy spoons you know your level. If they cracked the service at cafe north they have a very good proposition. And I personally and the thirty people I have taken there think its a very good standard and way above a greasy spoon.

ancoats girlMarch 20th 2008.

The Abergeldie is awful. They use the cheapest quality sausages and bacon, and there is no ventilation there. Last time we went there, I felt ill afterwards. I'm all for a good greasy spoon, but it needs to be clean and a nice place to sit with a cuppa. Essy's is nicer but also uses cheap meat. But you can't expect good meat if you're paying rock bottom prices, so I'd rather pay a bit more. I like the breakfast at Katsouris - it's £4.95 and the sausages, bacon and bread are all good quality. I've also had great quality breakfasts at the little cafe tucked around the corner from the Armani shop - around £5. Can't remember what it's called!

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

ive read the comments left on this website for a decent breakie didnt know which one to choose but after reading (spawny i get a free breakie of all the greasey spoons in town if i slag of cafe north)i plumpt for cafe north service was a bit slow but the food was fresh and clean and really good portions so go try cafe north before you judge it sorry about the grammer but my teachers at ordsall wasnt that bothered they were to busy eating breakies

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

Have to give it to Cafe North for the selection, but £10 for a brekkie?? not when you'll have to wait an hour for it, and you'll spend most of that hour getting scowled at by the unfriendly, unhelpful staff. Cafe North should be the best cafe in Manchester..... it has all the right looks, and a good menu.Just consistantly let down by bad service! bring on the Essys for a real fry up!

DescartesMarch 20th 2008.

Love the Koffee Pot, not been there for ages but this story meant a sausage and bacon buttie was a must. My only complaint is they use polystyrene containers for the take out. Tsk tsk

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

I agree with a previous writer - Cafe North is rubbish! The food is over-priced and the service is terrible.

SiobhanMarch 20th 2008.

If Carlsberg did breakfasts Cafe North would probably be the best in the world!

GrandwazooMarch 20th 2008.

I used to be a regular at the Greasy spoon that was called I think 'The John Dalton St Cafe' realy good quick and inexpensive. A bit of a legend reaaly. Now I would say that weatherspoons is best for value and quality. But I will try and check out the ones mentioned here. Fancy a nice fry up tonight for some reason.

Feel sickMarch 20th 2008.

I've just come back from Katsouris and their breakfast has just come back up me. Burned toast without any butter (had to cue up and ask for some) uncooked egg whites and everything sat in an inch of grease. They don't have glasses for drinks either - just coke cartons (not the most distressing thing I could think of to complain about, but vessels from which to drink ought not to be considered luxurious in a cafe). Cooked breakfasts aren't intended as health food, but that was a step too far. As for elsewhere - Trof is ok, Love Saves the Day is good but only at weekend, Koffee Pot is ok if you want pragmatic rather than pleasurable eating. One place missed out completely so far is Gastros on Sackville St - it's not the cheapest but it's pretty good. I don't know of anywhere that I'd enthusiastically go on a regular basis though. It's a shame - I'd do it all the time if there was somewhere good. Why is it that our two national dishes - fish and chips and cooked breakfasts - are the things we still consistently get wrong?

daveMarch 20th 2008.

cafe north top food

AdenMarch 20th 2008.

There's actually a hidden breakfast jewel in the Northern Quarter which no one has mention. Just round the corner from Abergeldie, across from the Arndale Market is a sandwich shop called Inhibition which does a lovely cheap brekkie with 2 bacon, 2 sausage, an egg, tomatoes, beans and a hash brown (used to be fried mushrooms, which I do miss), 2 toast and either coffee or tea for £3.50. A bargain!

daveMarch 20th 2008.

i love breakfast you dick

victoriaMarch 20th 2008.

TROF is all you need to know for a good breakfast....mmm could eat one now!

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

dont go to rowntrees first thing in the morning as they use the food from the previous night and the scottish lad who works thier is always scratcing his backside and never washes his hands

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

There's also a fabulous cafe in the arches on Chapel Street. You get fantastic, quick service of hot, fresh food cooked to order. I don't work on Manchester any more so haven't been there for a while and I'm sorry I can't remember their name!

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

I agree with Anonymous and Chris, Trof in the Northern Quarter is definitely the best place in Manchester city centre for a full on fried breakfast. Fast and very friendly service. Add a tasty bloody mary to the equation and it's the only place to cure my hangover blues every weekend

johnthebriefMarch 20th 2008.

Now that's what I call public service journalism. Thank you Mancon for some very useful tips!

chrisgibson.comMarch 20th 2008.

Have to agree re. Cafe North. I've not tried their breakfasts, but I did attempt to get lunch there a few weeks ago. After our order was [eventually] taken, the waitress [eventually] wandered back and said that they'd sold out of soup. At lunchtime? Competition for a decent lunch is pretty high around the Northern Quarter, and if you can't manage something as basic as "making enough soup" you really are in trouble.Trof gets my vote for the best breakfast, though.

AnonymousMarch 20th 2008.

ok cafe!! errrrgh thats too greasy and too awful, over a £5 for breakfast is robbery!! i like the Font (why has no one mentioned it?) its cheap and big studenty but good value

EARL OF DIDSBURYSeptember 20th 2010.

I think Katsouris is a great breakfast on the corner of John Dalton and Deansgate however the bland "euro sausage" seems to let it down !

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