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Cafe Konak review

Jonathan Schofield finds there’s life left in the street cafe

Written by . Published on January 6th 2011.

Cafe Konak review

The History of Food and Drink examination. Question 1: The British street cafe is dead. Discuss.

This could well be an exam question somewhere. Maybe it's my imagination but I swear the number of non-alcohol beverage serving street cafes has declined greatly in the last twenty years?

The Konak, in an area of the city centre which is all about proper restaurants or chains, introduces a welcome bit of variety. Like Lloyds Cafe not far away it harks back to the older tradition of British street cafes.

I’m sure when I was a nipper in the 70s and 80s there were loads more of these places. No doubt fast food culture in the form of KFC and McDonalds has done for many, and maybe the relative ease of getting a drinks licence has done for others.

Or maybe they’ve disappeared because as a genre they generally had an aura of stewed tea and misery - 'greasy spoons' was an appropriate title. I’m told in the fifties the ‘cappucino cafes, the Wimpys and Kardomahs, were all the rage, the glamorous hangouts of the ‘with-it’ teenager. If that were the case any hint of being modern and sassy seemed to have disappeared by my youth.

Now the indie cafe has largely retreated into God-forsaken badly planned depressed suburban shopping precincts such as Stretford Mall.

There are exceptions to this rule, a few good examples in the city centre still do well. The Koffee Pot is one in Stevenson Square, Cafe North another on Shude Hill.

One I recall from years ago was the John Dalton Street Cafe which wasn’t exactly brilliant, but did a decent fish and chips and a fine mug of tea. It provided an ideal budget meal break from shopping.

Now the place has re-opened as the Konak Cafe. It’s Turkish-owned and it’s doing fine.

The fish and chips I had for £7.95, while maybe being a pound or two over the average cafe price, was better presented than any I’ve had in such places. It came with cod in a light batter, with excellent homemade tartare sauce (correctly tart and not too sweet with bags of capers) and good mushy peas, all lifted by the simple addition of two chives. The lemon slice did a job on the fish.

The chips were fries, not proper as they should have been, but they were well-timed and decent enough.

Artful fish and Chips

A smoothie of strawberry and banana (£3.30) was as good as it gets; filled with flavour, rugged with bits of strawberry and immensely refreshing. A subsequent espresso (£1.20) was a good as I’ve had in the city.

The best smoothie

The big downer was the Belgian Waffle (£3.20) which promised much but turned out to be a processed horror right down to the mass produced ice cream and the squirty cream. I should have gone for the apple pie, which on a neighbouring table looked as though it might be homemade.

This being Turkish owned, the name by the way refers to a posh house in the Ottoman Empire, there’s also meze. These come in two prices £5.95 (6 piece) and £7.95 (8 piece) with the usual suspects of vine leaves, halloumi, Turkish sausage and so forth. What I’ll definitely be back for is the £4.95 breakfast which includes bacon, eggs, beans, mushrooms, hash browns and tomato.

The Konak, in an area of the city centre which is all about proper restaurants or chains, introduces a welcome bit of variety. Like Lloyds Cafe not far away it harks back to the older tradition of British street cafes. So in answer to the question of whether the British street cafe is dead, well, not quite. But it needs imagination and skill to keep the thing going. The Konak looks like a place savvy enough to prosper.

Interior with flowers

Breakdown:7/10 food
3.5/5 service
3/5 ambience
Address:Konak Cafe
19 John Dalton Street
0161 834 5454

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

Jaspar COctober 7th 2010.

I remember the John Dalton Street Cafe. I used to take girls for meals there because I couldn't afford Ganders Go South. It's amazing how seductive egg and chips can be. Didn't like it when the girls had sardines on toast though. Not good kissing material that.

NortherngeezerOctober 7th 2010.

Dissapointed that the chips are frozen.

MakdlfOctober 8th 2010.

Pricey but excellent fish

NortherngeezerOctober 8th 2010.

Mak - The chips mate, the chips.......................FROZEN!!!!.............the worst chippy i've ever been to dont even serve frozen chips, however good the fish is!.

Kevin TilleyNovember 14th 2010.

Anyone know if they open on Sundays?

Is it run by the same people as Cafe Konak in Alderley Edge?

AnonymousDecember 6th 2011.

GONE NOW and an empty shell again. Was a great cafe in the past. Miss the friendly table service. HATE self-service places.

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