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Teacup review

Ruth Allan likes balls, loves the bread and cakes but not the boshing about

Published on March 30th 2011.

Teacup review

When Teacup opened in 2007, it cemented the Northern Quarter as one of the nation’s coolest places in which to hang out. The café is owned by DJ and cartoonist, Mr Scruff, and his manager, Gary McLarnan, who are a cool duo too. All very funky.

It’s a classic product of this city in terms of ownership, conception and custom – and as such, something to be cherished especially when certain Teacup specials, like cakes, salads, the teas and breads are worth the wait. It’s got that lovely decor and atmosphere as well.

Joining Thomas and the Northern Quarter Restaurant in this part of town, it’s fairly recently started serving bistro-style food in the evenings. This means exchanging its popular brunch dishes for an exclusive meatball menu, with a BYO licence on the side. And it's doing well so far. Spotty red table clothes and little tea lights warm the space, as couples schmooze over their balls so to speak. This more grown up edge after dark works.

Halloumi and prawn are among the 'meat balls' to enjoy. Beef is served to a ‘classic NY’ recipe, with pork, parmesan and garlic, while pork comes with prune and ‘forest chestnuts’. Minced prawn balls are predictably jazzed up with lime and chili, while other options include chicken, and Moroccan-inspired lamb with morello cherries. Four balls are £5.95, while mash and spaghetti are £3.25 each. Add a side of spinach, and you’re looked at around £12.45, a price comparable to four courses from Gaucho Grill’s grazing menu.

We started with toasted olive bread (£2.90). Crisp on the outside, pillow soft inside, the ciabatta-style dough was ribbed with slabs of sun dried tomato and olives. Dressed in a smear of peppery (Spanish, I’m guessing) extra virgin olive oil it was a soul-mate of the handmade olive-rich tapenade. A portion of pesto showed a generous hand with the parmesan and basil. I called up later to find out if they make it in house, which they do - and it tasted like a million calories of joy.

Mains were good too. My beef balls satisfied rather than sung on a bed of white bean ragu. I recently ate at Bistrot Bruno Loubet in Clerkenwell where the chef imbued these versatile pulses with preserved lemon: it was a touch of magic missing here, and the balls’ texture was on the bouncy side too.

My friend Jo’s lamb, cherry and coriander faggots were the most accomplished of the lot (she's pictured, enjoyed them) while Mark’s cheese balls could’ve made more of the great thing about halloumi; the contrast between its golden, caramelised skin and soft, curd-like innards. Their pale colour was warmed by the apricots which was a fine idea. Overall very good.

Restaurant consultant John Quilter has overseen recent changes at Teacup.

The former head honcho of Marmalade in Chorlton has transformed the cake offering (the individual white chocolate tart is a lesson in crisp, buttery pastry) into arguably the best in the city, and he’ll more than likely achieve the same across the menu given a bit more time.

The service was uneven. In a series of almost comical vignettes one waiter actually said ‘Bosh!’ as he slammed dishes down on the table, and proceeded to point out five times (or possibly more) that we had to drink up by 10pm. The management needs to address that attitude in a hurry. We’re sure they will.

As with the Unabombers-backed Electriks bar in Chorlton, Teacup started out as a side project for the musically talented. The place has matured into a thriving business, with queues out the door on the weekends.

It’s a classic product of this city in terms of ownership, conception and custom – and as such, something to be cherished especially when certain Teacup specials, like cakes, salads, the teas and breads are worth the wait. It’s got that lovely decor and atmosphere as well.

To complement the rest of the day the evening menu is now showing real promise. I’ll be back to enjoy – just hoping that Mr Bosh (0/5 for his service) is working the day shift.

Rating: 14/20
Breakdown: 7/10 food
2.5 service
4.5/5 ambience
Address: Teacup
Northern Quarter
55 Thomas Street
M4 1NA
0161 832 3233

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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

homeygnomeyMarch 30th 2011.

Yes, was talking about the place last night - one thing you didn't mention was the prices, which are very silly in places. Cup is the only place in the NQ you'll pay £3 and up for a cup of coffee and some of the food is very expensive for what you get. Their service is getting on the side of legendary, in a bad way. The staff are all perfectly lovely people, but old-fashioned customer service and organisation are not their strong points! Sorry Cup, I do love you but you are infuriating sometimes. My tip is North Tea Power for the time being. HG

J E SibberingMarch 30th 2011.

What is meant to have happened to that side dish of spinach?

MrSkurffMarch 30th 2011.

Shocking service still endemic and has been for years. Avoid at all costs!!

Dom SotgiuMarch 30th 2011.

@ mrskurr, please try us again, our service is much better now, I'm sure you'll enjoy us if you came again.

@ homeygnomey, we're not expensive, we sell premium and quality products across the board, we aim to sell the best we can get, you can get cheap brews and cheap eats anywhere in manchester, our coffee comes from atkinsons of lancaster and is the norths best coffee as voted by the observer food monthly..

@ ruth, really sorry that the service was not up to scratch when you came in to review us.

the brief for our staff with bring your own booze is to make them aware that by law we have to be empty by 10.30pm, they should have made this clear , I will make sure this doesn't happen again, really hope this bosh waiter didn't spoil your night.

we have really good service standards here and have excellent customers who come back time and time again, we even have guests coming in from cheshire and the other suburbs just to sit and have a coffee as they love the banter and atmosphere, it really is rare we get complaints about service..!

JanusMarch 31st 2011.

Doms I agree with most of what you say. There is no finer place to sit and watch the world go by than in Teacup with a cracking char and a cake. The service has been an issue and well done for coming on like this but it isn't quite there yet. My gripe is mainly with the time taken over orders. Still this won't stop be coming. It is afterall the NQ's social club.

domsMarch 31st 2011.

hi, our aim is to please, there's always a bit of a wait when we're busy as with any bar, we're not a bottle bar so our huge range of drinks are always lovelingly made from scratch, juices, smoothies & milk shakes take time, especially when you have a big table and lots of different drinks.

the offer here is part of our beauty, you can get wonderful loose teas & tissanes, all served with timers and 2nd pots to decant your perfectly brewed drink in to, we do things properly and with pride.. we have the best table ware in the city all adding to the experience..

there's no slacking here and if guest feel that our staff are lovely but un organised then i urge you to take a look closely when they are work, they work very very hard all day long

MrSkurffMarch 31st 2011.

Dom - No chance. The service and attitude has been terrible for years and here yet again is another bad review because of it. Check any other review online and it's the same problem time and time again. Won't waste my time or money in Teacup again and would urge others to do the same.

NortherngeezerMarch 31st 2011.

I wonder if now might be the time for Mancon to stop putting piccys of the food on there reviews.
The latest photo's on this review and the Polpo review do little to encourage the reader to order those dishes, in fact, on the contrary.
Just a thought Ed, constructive critiscm and the like, dont see yer arse over this rant and get all defensive like yer normally do.

Dom SotgiuApril 3rd 2011.

don't forget to apply for our loyal tea card in the offers section of this website, free £8.00 vouchers still available for our meatball nights...!

Dom SotgiuApril 3rd 2011.

mrskurff, I'd like to offer you a free £8.00 voucher for meatballs and a loyaltea card which will give you 10% off as well as other exclusive offers.

Anytime you would like to claim your voucher and card let me know.

I would urge others to decide for themselves what our service is like!






In AweApril 3rd 2011.

Wow Doms, you're pushing the boat out.

Offering mrskurff something she can already easily get through this website. Far out.

Dom SotgiuApril 4th 2011.

really far out is how everyone uses real names on here...

it's not obvious on this website how to get a voucher, i thought it would be a kind gesture..

i love the internet, flamers will go down in history...

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