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Peppermint Bay Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield scoots to the 25th century for a cake or two

Written by . Published on November 24th 2011.

Peppermint Bay Reviewed

A TRIP to Peppermint Bay is like a flight on the holodeck in Star Trek Voyager. There’s something science fiction about it as if Isaac Asimov had dreamed up a futuristic Palm House.

The Italian blend in Peppermint Bay is easily one of the best in the city centre, a rich yet smooth drink that gives you a strong blast of caffeine but doesn’t overwhelm you with it. 

It’s got the glass and steel structure and all the palm trees you could wish for in a traditional Palm House, but it’s been rearranged to a Modernist aesthetic of sharp utilitarian edges rather than fancy curlicues of wrought iron. There’s even a very modern deli-counter and a very modern and cute herb garden.

Pics 041

To complete the space maybe the operators, Living Ventures, could add a water feature, orchids and other exotic flowers, even have butterflies fluttering around. I'd like that even though it may challenge the local food standards people.

They could also get Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager to serve as well, she’d definitely fit in. With me at least.

Seven Of NineWill Seven Of Nine From Star Trek Voyager Get A Job At Peppermint Bay?

As it stands the principal ornament of Peppermint Bay is a food counter as beguiling as a Dutch still life of a fecund fruit bowl, with one dewy drip sliding down a pomegranate’s split flesh.

The grub, arraigned inside and on top of a fiver metre counter, changes through the course of the day. So you might find anything from sushi through hot and cold sandwiches, soups and salads to a very pretty selection of cakes, pies and tarts.

Pics 030They Sell Sushi By The Magistrate's Door

Drinks include coffees, hot chocolates, fruits, teas,  wines and beers.

A word on the coffee here.

The Italian blend in Peppermint Bay is easily one of the best in the city centre, a rich yet smooth drink that gives you a strong blast of caffeine but doesn’t overwhelm you with it. There’s no back-bite harshness to the flavour that you get in Eat across way from Peppermint Bay, or Carluccios or Caffe Nero or Starbucks. The prices are a shade cheaper than the latter place too and there’s none of that ‘Large’, ‘Grande’, ‘Venti’ nonsense  but Small, Standard and Large sizes – excellent directness.

Foodwise, the flat bread hot sandwiches are definitely a winner. The unleavened bread provides a good base for a brown sauce laden bacon butty (£3.50) for breakfast. The bacon appears to have a sweet cure which adds to the whole as well. This is becoming a bit of fave on mine on the way to work.

Pics 033It's Bread And It's Flat

The first lunchtime course I chose though, proved a mistake for me.

I had one of the salads (£8.50) with cous cous, lentils, chopped bits and bobs and mange tout and broccoli. I realised as soon as I started that despite the enticing colours on the plate I am in no way a health food vegetarian.  This was all a bit Eighth Day vegetarian cafe on Oxford Road: a dish for Gordo, who is presently on a diet of 600 calories a day and thus a recluse from these food and drink pages.

On another visit I had the duc, egg mayo, and cress roll for £4 which was simply superb. I normally loathe mayo but this blended with the lush duck egg and the sharpness of the cress to satisfy perfectly.

Pics 032Rolls Of Honour

Also more than satisfactory was the fruit tart, our headline picture on this story. This £3.50 lovely was a sweet, syrupy, fruit heavy, soft centred delight. I had one. I could have eaten all eight on the deli-counter platter, retreating into a corner like Billy Bunter or Augustus Gloop, sniffling and jamming them into my cakehole.

The pastries are home-made by someone called Serena which is nice. She’s good. But I took mild offence at the vanilla slices. This was because they cost £3.50. As opposed to 80p in Greggs. 

£3.50. For that amount I want to a sit in a fantasy location (mine would be on the crater of an active volcano but safely so) and be served by Julie Christie from 1969 in a ball gown. Or maybe Seven of Nine.  

Julie Christie Just About To Serve Schofield A Vanilla Slice On The Side Of Stromboli VolcanoJulie Christie Not Sure About Serving Schofield A Vanilla Slice On The Side Of A Volcano

Fancy cakes are fine if very very fancy, hence the fruit tart is perfect, but vanilla slices in the UK are a childhood memory from local bakeries (or Greggs) and need to be heavy with vanilla, food colouring and preservatives. They should never ever be delicate and refined like the ones here. Somethings are best being bad.

Peppermint Bay is intriguing. Odd even. Sort of manically attractive.

Through the windows on one side you can see the cafe in John Rylands Library. People in Peppermint Bay stare over their coffees at customers staring back at them over their coffees. In-between Her Majesty’s guests to the Magistrates Courts run a gauntlet of cream teas.

There’s a terrace outside Peppermint Bay to the west protected from ne’er do wells by a glass wall and more palms. The terrace faces a Mulberry store display; it’s one of the few terraces possibly in the world, where you can window-shop for £800 bags and watch people wander in and out of a court building.

The name by the way refers to a place in Tasmania. The original has a far more boring view - as shown below.

Great coffee at the Manchester version though. Great flat bread bacon butties and fruit tarts too. And Greggs isn’t far away if you want a vanilla slice. 

Pics 046Bags, Nosh And Her Majesty's Guests

PeppermintbayPeppermint Bay In Tasmania, Dull, With No Bags Or Her Majesty's Guests

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. £1000 to the reader who can prove otherwise, and dismissal for the staff member who wrote a review scored out of twenty on a freebie from the restaurant.

Peppermint Bay
The Avenue

Rating: 13.5/20
Food: 7/10
Service: 3.5/5 
Ambience: 3/5

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: we gets carried away.

Pics 029Pics 031

Pics 034





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

AnonymousNovember 24th 2011.

So is it Peppermint Bay or Peppermint Lounge then?

EditorialNovember 24th 2011.

It's Bay. BAY we say. Was that troubling you dear Anon?

FanNovember 24th 2011.

Julie Christie was the most beautiful star of the hippy sixties. Ah Doctor Zhivago and the all that

Eugene O'callaghanNovember 24th 2011.

£4.50 for a bacon butty ???

My word! I would want someone to eat it for me too...

1 Response: Reply To This...
Calum McGNovember 24th 2011.

But then you'd have nothing and would have spent £4.50!

BaggioNovember 24th 2011.

starbucks coffee has a back-bite harshness???? i think you've proven you don't know much about coffee, jonathan! you're very lucky if you can taste any coffee at all, it's that weak!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldNovember 24th 2011.

It's also got a low grade chocolate fatness and flabbiness to it that Starbuck's coffee dear Baggio. And it does taste of coffee only poor coffee is all, and as for that bitter rancorous aftertaste - yuck - it just never fades.

Lorraine ByrneNovember 24th 2011.

My pal and I went there for lunch yesterday, she had a mozzerella and tomato baguette - could barely see the mozzerella - £5 - rip off! Didn't look any different from Greggs, except Greggs has more filling. Love the decor though.

AnonymousNovember 24th 2011.

Do I sense the beginnings of yet another over-hyped place failing to live up to the hype?

John BrightNovember 24th 2011.

Do you always sense that Anonymous? Is life a bit tiresome? Have you been to 63 Degrees yet or The Rose Garden?

AnonymousNovember 24th 2011.

Julie Christie ,Girl On a Motorbike,reminds me of my first **** deff have to give it a look

shkNovember 24th 2011.

Surely Peppermint Bay, Tasmania was founded by Her Majesty's guests - or His, whoever was on the throne at the time?

AnonymousDecember 1st 2011.

The bacon bitty is actually £3.50 not £4.50, and to me its worth it. I go to peppermint bay every morning on my way into work and I love it. The staff are all really friendly and inviting. It's lovely to start my day walking into such a nice place to have my breakfast.

1 Response: Reply To This...
EditorialDecember 1st 2011.

Oops changed the price now

AnonymousApril 2nd 2012.

It's gone bust.

Sasha LaneApril 10th 2012.

What has happened to this place? Seemed really popular whenever I went in (once or twice a week) and then found it closed...! A shame as was such a lovely place with delicious food! Be interested to find out if it's gone for good so I can try to find a suitable replacement and dispose of my Peppermint Bay loyalty cards.....

Lorraine ByrneMay 10th 2012.

Has to be more to this closing than meets the eye as the place was full every day!! Been the quietest closing EVER!

AnonymousJuly 2nd 2012.

I'm not sure why Peppermint Bay closed down, but I do know that the space reopens this week as an Illy Espresso Bar. Exciting!

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