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CUP

Jonathan Schofield loves taking tea at the Northern Quarter’s latest bolt hole

Written by . Published on January 3rd 2008.


CUP

CUP is smart boho and it’s a cracker.

This is caffeine culture (tea as much as coffee) done with eminent taste. The décor, the furnishings and all the add-ons, such as artworks, displays and special events, show that the owner, Gary McClarnan, has a clear idea of what he wants to achieve.

The tropical juice, summer fruits, banana and low fat yoghurt drink called Bob Marley’s emancipation is possibly the most eccentrically monikered drink in all of history.

The food is good too. This writer has not had anything bad to eat here (although Gordo once got a gobstopper when he wanted a soft, runny egg). I’ve enjoyed pie, minted peas and mash (£6), a Camembert with artichoke hearts toasted sandwich (£3.75), onion soup with rye bread (£3.30) and a quite magnificent porridge (£3) made with raisins and sultanas, syrup and around four thousand other ingredients.

Coffee comes good and strong and the smoothies are a treat with daft names. The tropical juice, summer fruits, banana and low fat yoghurt drink called Bob Marley’s emancipation is possibly the most eccentrically monikered drink in all of history.

Yet for all the brightness of the space and that lovely use of various fonts, the place can be scruffy too. But in the right way.

CUP stocks and serves Manchester DJ, Mr Scruff’s very own blends of tea. These come from Scruff’s company Make us a Brew and are excellent. The English Breakfast (£1.20) is rich and full in flavour, a bit like Yorkshire Tea but better because it’s not from that benighted county of pain and sin. There are also lots of herbal varieties for women and metrosexuals such as Forest Fruit and Mint and Chilli.

There’s more to CUP than the food and drink as well. First there’s a shop selling crockery and tee-shirts. Yes, more or less just those. Almost opposite CUP is John Gray, a shop which has been around since 1875, selling paper and twine. Confidential hopes CUP’s crockery and T-shirt combination lasts as long.

The T-shirts by the way are very witty and come from Threadless, an American company. Witty, but for me, one of only two problems with CUP. My principal new year’s resolution was to be rude to anyone with a witty T-shirt.

The other problem is charging £1 for gravy to go with the pies. Come on Cup, that’s ridiculous, give it away for 10p or something.

You also get a full record shop on the premises. This is Vox Pop chocker with rare vinyl covering roots, jazz and so forth. The music makes for a pleasant accompaniment to your lunch. On the table was a top ten records of the week. I hadn’t heard of a single one of the artists. I was reassurred by this. I've never been entranced by the arcana of music but this level of knowledge and enthusiasm always impresses.

CUP is that sort of place, easy on the eye, fun but also serious in making a success. Music wise it’s for the aficionado, food and drink wise it’s for everybody and the two work beautifully together.

If the test of a teashop or café is whether you want to hang around, people watch and relax, then CUP passes on all fronts.

Rating: 15.5/20
Breakdown: 7.5/10 Food
3/5 Service
5/5 Ambience
Address: CUP
53-55 Thomas Street
Northern Quarter
Manchester
0161 834 2004
Mon-Fri 8am-7pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun noon-6pm

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

Gordo's pie-eating mateJanuary 3rd 2008.

Went for a much-coveted pie (after reading this article) and was near to tears to find there would be 'no meat pies ready for another half hour'. This was 12.30pm on a Friday and with no less than eight meat pies on the menu, Cup needs to be doing better. I plumped for the potato and onion effort in the end. Very tasty Pieminster people, but that was luke warm. Really disappointed.Also, took a fair while to be served depsite the 5:1 staff to pie-ready-customer ratio. Three seperate people had to check on the state of the pies. I hadn't realised how much of a science buying a pie had become.Crockery - it's tat for your gran. Stick it back in the attic ready for a beeb series presented by a monocle-wearing Aled Jones in a couple of decades time.Come on Cup! I so desperately want to eat all the pies, but you need to have them ready for lunchtimes. Basic stuff kids.

fifiXRDJanuary 3rd 2008.

As much as I wanted to love Cup, I was disappointed. We arrived mid afternoon to a half full cafe with no queue at the counter and ordered 2 x cappucino's and an apple juice. We were told that everything would be delivered to our table, so we sat down. About 10 mins later, we got 2 x mildly luke warm cappucinos and no apple juice. I took them back to the counter, did the bizarre british apologetic thing we all do.. "i'm really sorry, but my cappucino is cold. Can I have another one?". The answer was yes. Literally. nothing more, nothing less - no platitudes of "sorry about that, let me make you another...". Another 5 mins later and I got a piping hot cappucino. Poor service however and no real excuse for not heating milk thoroughly enough. It wasn't even busy and there were plenty of staff!!Come on cup - you can do better!!

JonathanJanuary 3rd 2008.

Tom, Love Saves the Day has moved into its own space next door to CUP, and is good too. But smaller.

A womanJanuary 3rd 2008.

As a woman I like herbal teas. How come Jonathan Schofield's reviews are always so revealing.

domJanuary 3rd 2008.

hello, as the new manager of cup I would like to thank you all for your fedback, we have listened to the comments and have acted on them.We will r e- launch very soon as teacup on thomas street and would like you all to come and try us again.We have two new chefs, baking and making fresh dishes daily as well as homemade cakes we do our own croisants, pan au chocolait, muffins, cup cakes and savouries.The new menu will be inclusive of a loose leaf tea menu and wonderful flowering teas.please try us out again soon

StevoJanuary 3rd 2008.

Scruff - you need to sort out the staff dude! They are SO SLOW!! I waited 30 minutes for 2 coffees!!! They said they were understaffed but with 5 members of staff and only 30 customers you'd like to think they can get through a few things... I love you man - deal with this before you find yourself without a business. x

DescartesJanuary 3rd 2008.

Far too expensive. £7 for pie + peas + gravy is extortion in my book (if I'd got the milkshake I fancied that would have gone up to £10!!). Bit confused by the point of the menu too; there were 8 pies listed but when I asked for minted lamb I was told "oh we're not doing those today, we've just got our specials on"; Cris Tingle and mushroom something or other. The cafe is ok though, good tea, nice record shop, seems to be a big waste of space for tea cups and crockery though and I couldn't really work out what CUP is trying to be. I'd go again but I'm not sure why, fair play the pie was nice but they need to half the price and put a chalk board up that says what they *are* serving, not what they might. Oh and agreed on the service, they've gotta sort that out.

domJanuary 3rd 2008.

hello, as the new manager of cup i would like to thank you all for yor fedback, we have listened to the comments and have acted on them, we will re - laucn very soon as teacup on thomas street and would like you all to come and try us again.we have new chefs, baking and making fresh dishes daily as well as homemade cakes we do our own croisants, pan au chocolait, mufins, cup cakes and savouries.The new menu will be inclusive of a loose leaf tea menu and wonderful flowering teas.please try us out again soon

AnonymousJanuary 3rd 2008.

I went once when it opened and waited ten minutes to order a cup of tea because the staff were too busy having a laugh amongst themselves to notice the customers. In the end I left without getting served, and because I hate bad service above all things, I won't go back, sadly.

NorthernGeezerJanuary 3rd 2008.

Ok, it looks like the pies have gone, but c'mon, pies shouldnt be eaten off a plate with mash an peas an gravy that costs a pound, they should be scoffed straight from a bag as you come out of the shop!!!!................So, where are the best pies in Manchester, taking the massed produced conglomerates out of the equation.I know a cracking bakers in Orrell (Wigan) called the old bakehouse that do's the best pies around. Theres also a bakers in Tyldesley called Whittakers who do a mean meat and potato..............anywhere else??.

tomJanuary 3rd 2008.

So I guess the Love Saves the Day franchise has gone then? I'll have to give this a try next time I'm down that way.

DissapointedJanuary 3rd 2008.

The pie was nice but only just warm and took a while to arrive, even though there were 5 staff in and only 10 customers.Not going to rush back in a hurry, as it's expensive - for lunch (£7.00 for a luke warm pie, mash, peas and gravy)

scottJanuary 3rd 2008.

the pies are from the well known pie company Pieminister. The price is the same for these pies wherever you go, be it Pi in Chorlton, or at a stall at a music festival over the summer. The price isnt bad for the quality of the food. Theres a reason why at Green Man Festival this summer, you had to queue 3 hours for a Pieminister Pie. Also strange that this review doesnt even mention, that CUP is Mr Scruff's cafe is isn't it? I don't know though... read it in the guardian, could be wrong

annaJanuary 3rd 2008.

it's true! the staff are rubbish. they ran out of bagels today so put my order on toast without even checking if it was ok with me.however, the delectable cakes keep me going back for more.... try the chocolate cheesecake if they ever have it again!

wayneJanuary 3rd 2008.

CUP is good. The pies are good. A bit expensive but great to loll around in. But it's the music that makes it special. No effing Coldplay or Snow Patrol here, just really different music that adds to the experience. No other cafe approaches it in terms of interesting tunes.

brewquafferJanuary 3rd 2008.

Really great brew and nice cakes, but appalling service - looked like there was confusion on the chain of command as it took 20min to get a pot of tea and a boiled egg! (there were two other customers at the time!) Other than that is nice to stop off for a cuppa away from the rush of Market Street.

A witty T-shirtJanuary 3rd 2008.

I made a load of new year's resolutions and all I got was this lousy T-shirt

JohnJanuary 3rd 2008.

I love CUP. great atmosphere, bit pricey but not too bad. And some of the staff are cute guys x

AnonymousJanuary 3rd 2008.

I used to like cup until they put dead birds in the window. That's put me right off going in there.

BUILDERS CRAICJanuary 3rd 2008.

THE PIES!dom get in touch man i have pictures and t shirts to sell daddyo

PablosanchezJanuary 3rd 2008.

Can anyone tell me where I can get a decent cappucino in town? Went in cup - stale cake and piss poor coffee. My friend had a tea which was also cracked out of a chipped, dirty teapot. Great! Jesus it's not difficult and there was no excuse that there were busy as it was dead. Will give this a wide berth and recommend others to as well.

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Latest Rants

Anonymous

The staff should wear clothes made out of corn flakes.

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Jonny

Dress the staff as Tony the Tiger and the honey monster, otherwise i'm just not interested. ;)

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Another Tim

Actually, it seems like this pricing model is designed to encourage eating fast and getting out of…

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Another Tim

I don't think it's a silly question at all. Possibly not in keeping with the spirit of the place.…

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