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Café Cilantro

Lynda Moyo heads to Chorlton for a late – in every way - breakfast

Written by . Published on February 19th 2008.


Café Cilantro

Sundays consist of two things: sleep and food. As the result of a week of burning the candle at both ends, what’s left is Man, whittled down to his basic human needs. A lie-in and a good feed will mentally prepare you for Sunday afternoon: ‘the long, dark, teatime of the soul’ as novelist Douglas Adams once described.

Slow service is annoying even for complex dishes, but for breakfast in a vegetarian café? What the hell could they be doing?

Where better to head on a lazy, sunny Sunday than the most celebrated street in Chorlton, Beech Road.

Café Cilantro, with its laid-back lime green sunkissed front was the perfect place for a blasé brunch. Inside, the theme continued: more green, reggae music: an invitingly cool vegetarian café. “Vegetarian?” I gasped whilst turning for the direction of the door, away from these crazed fruit and veg torturers. I don’t know if it was the sweet sound of ska or the admirable fair-trade sugar on the table, but we decided we weren’t going to let the big ‘V’ cast a shadow over our omnivorous table. In fact we didn’t need to as the service did that all by itself.

Café Cilantro offers two menus: breakfast and daytime specials. Breakfasts are available up until 1pm and the daytime menu thereafter. The transition between menus apparently adds an extra 15 minutes to your waiting time, so don’t go there at 12.55pm.

We were still safe in the breakfast zone when we arrived. There’s every option from pancake towers with maple or cranberry syrup (£3.25) to omelettes with herb, tomato and cheese (£3.20). We went for the full vegetarian breakfast (£5.50), muesli with bio yoghurt and Chorlton honey (£1.95) and poached eggs on toast with spicy dukkah (£2.75). All fair prices, although a cup of tea will set you back an uncomfortable £1.20.

Fast forward half an hour and still no food. Funny really considering we’d already noted not one, not two but three white hats bobbing around in the back. Slow service is annoying even for complex dishes, but for breakfast in a vegetarian café? What the hell could they be doing? Checking the centres of the baked beans weren’t pink?

At last, the muesli arrived, looking not too dissimilar to saw dust, but it had arrived and that was the main thing. Looks aren’t everything but taste unfortunately is. This was rabbit food with a dollop of yoghurt desperately trying to add a bit of subsistence and failing. As far as muesli goes, this was disappointing.

Similarly to Sunday drivers, at Café Cilantro there was no sense of urgency so next to crawl out of the kitchen was the poached eggs on toast. The dish was as it should be: warm toast, poached eggs with runny yolks. The problem for my guest was sitting there eating alone as I waited for my full breakfast. The waitress kept uttering “I’m so sorry” in embarrassment every time she passed our table.

A painstaking 45 minutes after ordering, the plate from the egg on toast had probably been washed, dried and served to another customer and my breakfast still hadn’t arrived. Finally plucking up the courage for a full explanation the waitress broke the news that: “The chef didn’t notice the breakfast on the order- even though it was plainly written.” I wanted to reply “the chef is a dick” but I couldn’t take it out on this lady who was clearly not at fault and just as miffed as me.

Fifteen minutes on and the breakfast finally arrived with some intriguing vegetarian black pudding which wasn’t a bad substitute for the real thing. It was a pleasant meal in all and was a lot healthier than the traditional full English. However after such a long wait my patience and appreciation for this veggie café had long gone. The glaringly vacant space on my plate was crying out for select cuts of dead pig.

Despite the appallingly slow service, I would recommend the menu at Café Cilantro to all long-suffering vegetarians and daring meat eaters. The portions are good, wholesome and reasonably priced. We left there feeling full as well as surprisingly calm. The nonchalant approach is what had driven us there in the first place and despite the hiccups, the atmosphere remained cool throughout. It had even rubbed off on other customers who didn’t seem annoyed by the disorganised serenity. Maybe vegetarians are just nicer people. Either way I rushed home for a big fat sausage.

Rating: 11/20
Breakdown: 3/5 Food
1/5 Service
3/5 Decor
4/5 Ambience
Address: Café Cilantro
52 Beech Road
Chorlton
M21 9EG

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

SteveFebruary 19th 2008.

I went there for a simple cup of coffee with my friend on the morning after the night before, even this simple request took 10 minutes. I imagine this place will close soon, go to the tapas place just down the road instead.

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

Lot of assumtions there Noel - how do you know the waitress isn't one of the owners?

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

I have just been in marmalade and its true , sloppy attitude , food not good or certainly not as good as usual.........me thinks something is amiss . Perhaps the woman from Cafe Clit-tro has bought it and the indifferent disease is spreading down the road...... you never know

NoelFebruary 19th 2008.

I took my wife for a meal here , it was bloody awful . Dreadful service and food.........its another example of every body thinking they can run a restaurant . No wonder 80 % of new catering ventures fail in there first trading year

judithsnotcharmedFebruary 19th 2008.

I have to agree with Veggie of Chorlton, Noel, tofuprincess and Miffed. I used to love Diamond Dogs where the food was awesome, and the service great too. I too love independent places, but deffo don't think that should mean compromising on basics such as friendly and quick service. Would love an alternative to the ever-more-Didsbury-esque Lead Station near Beech Rd if anyone can recommend...

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

For Gods sake , has this place closed yet . Its a simple question ?

RaceFebruary 19th 2008.

I went once when it first opened and it took over 40mins to get a toasted bagel and longer for the breakast AND we were the only people in there mid morning, mid week. Not a winner for me, shame as it's a great little site.

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

Sarah , you are obviously a mate of the owner , Cafe Clit -tro is the PITS !

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

Cafe Clit-tro !!!!! how very droll

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

No Noel - that's true!

NoelFebruary 19th 2008.

Wow. , Then the situation is twice as worse . First , an owner who is surly and rude , according to her customers . Second A business on one of the most famous" food " roads in Manchester , surrounded by potential competitors being described by one of its customers as " a complete joke" . Is that a n assumtion?

red kevFebruary 19th 2008.

For all our rants and raves , the place is bloody rubbish . RIGHT , there is said .Cafe Cilantro Owner with the anonymous friend either damn well change and get some manners and a new attitude or lock the door and say goodnight . Read the comment about Marmalade , I understand where you are coming from ....we shall see

MattFebruary 19th 2008.

Hmm... these reviews aren't too inspiring I think i'll stick with Fuel in Withington - the breakfast burrito is just what you need on a Sunday morning!

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

photoMy ego isn't patient when it orders food it wants it now.My ego isn't tolerent don't make a mistake on my order or there will be hell to pay.My ego isn't kind it is selfish it could care less about others.I can't take my ego anywhere without it causing pain and suffering.Thats why i leave my ego at home and treat people with love and kindness.

Red KevFebruary 19th 2008.

CAFE CILANTRO CLOSED

Jo FletchFebruary 19th 2008.

Crikey the waitress tested my patience to the limit, great food, good atmos, but I just don't have the time to go again. The waitress explained that she had to serve people in order - this meant going over to a larger table to be told they weren't ready to order and then returning to my table 10 seconds later. One lady asked for a cup of tea to be told "I'm sorry, I have to clear that table before I can get to you." Customer service needs to be worked on - a lot!!!

Jonathan Schofield - editorFebruary 19th 2008.

Blimey...as the publisher would say. I want a special award for this waitress at the Food and Drink Festival. She's taking surliness to such a level it seems to have become art.

MattFebruary 19th 2008.

If you want to see the rudest waitress in Manchester come here! The service was terrible which is a shame because the food (when it eventually came) is quite good. Won't be going again.

RegularJoeFebruary 19th 2008.

This place is usually empty and deservedly so. The service is the slowest I've experienced anywhere in the country and the general attitude of the place is "who cares about customer service". Food is nothing special, portions are meagre, and certainly not worth the wait. It's amazing that this place can stay in business.

tofuprincesssaraFebruary 19th 2008.

What's even worse is that Cilantro replaced Diamond Dogs, which was brilliant and really knew how to serve up a veggie breakfast. Plus the pink and red walls were much nicer.

Veggie of ChorltonFebruary 19th 2008.

When I went to Cafe Cilantro, after nearly one whole hour of waiting (on a weekday lunchtime), the (incredibly rude) waitress finally came to our table, and told my friend that her eggs had fallen onto the floor. BUT they had managed to save some of them, and then, proceeded to present her with a messy, sloppy plate of toast, with a few scraps of egg on it, that apparently had not fallen onto the floor.....And then said, as a concession (!), she would not charge us full price for the eggs. Unbelievable! We left in disgust, with other customers saying they too were completely fed up.I never like to complain about independent places, especially as a veggie living in Chorlton. But Cafe Cilantro is a complete joke and I can't believe it's still going. I wish someone would take it over and improve things.

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

went there with friends on a saturday morning...there were only 4 of us - the food took and hour and a half and wasnt that great - Agree with the above Diamond dogs was much much better!

GordoFebruary 19th 2008.

Gordo is going, he definately feels that the abuse from the waitress will make up for his favourite dominatrix being on the missing list servicing germans in the Black Forest.

Freddie MercuryFebruary 19th 2008.

All join in " Enough one bites the dust "

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

Sorry for the double entry , I sneezed !

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

good on her its not everyday you find an honest, genuine waitress, it is vital especially with a busy pace to be organised and go to tables in order even if they are not ready so you can point out specials of the day etc or at least take a drinks order. it ticks off the people that came in before the people who summon the waitress, they will often say 'we sat down before them' but by then it's too late to make amends.. on top of that it's what controls the rhythm of the team.. (imagine trying to count or memorise a list of tasks and table numbers, with someone butting in, now imagine 3 or 4 people doing it!!) The other table may well have been ready to order one should never take orders according to number of people that truly is bad, unfair service.. as a waitress you have to play it safe, she was polite and that was the right thing to do. I think the problem is waitresses feel depreciated when they are trying they're best, especially with those who have never been on the 'other side' faced with the sea of eyes lol.. and it goes around in a cycle like that. You have to be extremely tough whilst pleasant (out of breath!) to work in front of house catering, I say stop sporting the waitress, let her get on with it and the quicker she will get to you.

JinkiesFebruary 19th 2008.

Hang on, Diamond Dogs has closed? Gutted!

JinkiesFebruary 19th 2008.

"Maybe vegetarians are just nicer people." I think you'll find vegetarians just don't have the energy to get properly annoyed, that or they're liberal pacifists and they're not allowed too hehe

jeffFebruary 19th 2008.

I went in last week and I did'nt think it was too bad . Mine you I used to like Establishment , Hurricane , Reform Club , The Bridge , Cocoa Rooms , Brasserie St Pierre [ blast from the past ] and a million others that closed down . I totally agree with Derek Domino and Noel , and yes Bobby Beech Road does deserve better . Marmalade 's standards are really dropping , it will be the next one . You read it here first !

tel BoyFebruary 19th 2008.

Sorry to report that the brunch was brilliant.......only kidding it was as bad as you imagine.It bordered on the " I dont give a .... attitude " to every aspect of the experience . I am with Steve , send your mother in law LOL

KeLLFebruary 19th 2008.

If you're looking for mediocre food served with a big side order of ignorance and disdain then this is the place for you:1. Waiter/chef (one member of staff only) complained about having to go to the trouble of clearing a table for me - at this point there were two other customers, already served, sitting together.2. On presenting my food, the waiter/chef seemed surprised that I might want cutlery: 'What cutlery do you want'? he asked. He then offered that he would not wish to use cutlery for the particular dish himself, but that he was happy to watch others struggle do so, should they so please.3. The dish, a Quesillada, contained the slightest smear of the ingredients the menu suggested it would be 'filled' with.4. On my proferring a five pound note in payment for the dish the waiter/chef informed me that I could have either my 25 pence change, or, under the terms of the lunch time offer - that, note , he was choosing to inform me of after my meal - I could choose a soft drink. As I paused to consider this he however continued, saying ' I lose money if you take the drink and I would prefer that you take the 25pence, but I wouldn't want you to think that I hadn't informed you of the offer'. I thanked the waiter/chef for his ignorance, and told him how much I looked forwards to eating there again. Why someone with such contempt for paying customers has chosen to run a veggie cafe and not, say, work as a DSS snoop or traffic warden i have no idea. I have less idea still how his cafe stays in business if this reflects his usual approach.

Andrew LloydFebruary 19th 2008.

Someone told me the American girl came from Seattle and was a student at the University . Agree , by the way she was very popular . This new one is terrible , I was treated badly . Will not return under the current regime

GeoffFebruary 19th 2008.

The Cafe Cilantro owner has got to be the rudest person in Manchester , I was in recently with my girlfriend , service was really awful . There should be training before you open a catering place , the level of customer service is more akin to a farce . Can anyone explain to me how this place exists on 2008 , if any other business was run in such a crazy way , it would literally close over night

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

Hey Tel Boy , how did the brunch go ?

SarahFebruary 19th 2008.

Cafe Cilantro is'nt that bad , I recently had a meal there . Food was very nice , service was of a high standard , with the owner providing a real home from home welcome to not only us but everyone there .Ever body seemed to be having a really jolly time . So I think the vast majority of you are wrong

SarahFebruary 19th 2008.

I have been in on a saturday morning feeling a little worse for wear. We both ordered full breakfasts but when my sister asked if she could have scrambled or poached egg instead of fried the cheery waitress gave an oh so cheery response of "no, but I can give you extra of something else instead". As there were only 2 other people in there I dont think scrambling an egg would of pained them but apparently it was too much of a hassle. Having said that the food was good so hats off to the chefs but they may want to review their customer service skills.

bobbyFebruary 19th 2008.

I disagree with everybody , I have been in and I do not mind waiting an hour for my main course , I dont mind a curt and indifferent attitude from the server . In actual fact I dont mind the fact that I was treated like I just was not important because I normally go To London and spend If you want to be treated like a an extra from the filmset of Oliver , then this is the place for you . I was in quite recently . Dreadful , quite dreadful . I found myself after nearly an hour humming to myself " Food glorious food etc etc ". If you want to see how it should not be done then go........... Beech road deserves better

steveFebruary 19th 2008.

I swear to God that I will only step foot in this place when the current occupier has gone .......dreadful place

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

I happen to know the waitress and she's a really nice woman so sling it the lot of ya!

RegFebruary 19th 2008.

I went to Cafe Cilantro last Saturday morning and the food was execellent. OH had the pancakes and I had the omlette with cheese. We did have to wait around 25 mins for the food but it was worth well worth the wait. Why anyone wants to be rushed on a Sat morn baffles me!I'm lead to believe the home made beans and potato cakes are also excellent so trying them the next time I'm passing through Chorlton.Give it a try!Don't ne put off try it

coffee addictFebruary 19th 2008.

Make the place into a Cafe Nero

Maud WardenFebruary 19th 2008.

Went in there the other day and the woman behind the counter was so unbearably rude we left without even sitting down. I have to admit to reading everyones comments thinking ' She can't be as bad as that or she wouldn't still be working' But I'm afraid she really is that bad'

MonicaFebruary 19th 2008.

This place is awful!! The service is slow, the woman behind the counter is miserable, the waiting staff try bless them but they can only work with what they're given. Like a few people have said this place isn't a patch on Diamond Dogs where the food was amazing and the service always friendly! But at this place everything seems like it's too much hard work they couldn't even make us garlic bread here as it wasn't on the menu??!! How hard is it to bash a clove of garlic into some butter and stick it on some bread???! Wouldn't go back even though I'm a vegetarian!

Derek DominoFebruary 19th 2008.

I dont believe she is the owner , no one who owns a business acts in such a fashion . I have been in and totally agree . Its more akin to a West End farce . If it is true , then she needs to dismiss herself , repaint it AKA like Diamond Dog style , rename it something like er ! Diamond Dog , rehire the original staff and then go on a bloody long holiday .

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

Well , has Cafe Cilantro closed ?

mikeFebruary 19th 2008.

I had forgotten how great the American girl at Diamond Dogs was , what happened to her . Cafe Cilantro is pants , only God knows how it survives

pascaleFebruary 19th 2008.

I go to cilentro regularly and sometime wait a lot sometime wait a little. Bottom line? the food is good and so is the music; the atmosphere quiet and friendly, the owner her own person. their special seasoning is a joy i had never come across before. Don't be put off by the efficiency brigade.

johno at SpiceFebruary 19th 2008.

Best place for sunday brunch without doubt is No4 dine and wine on warburton Street

Ken BarlowFebruary 19th 2008.

I will never take Deirdie to this place again , its the pits ,. I might take my mother in Law Blanche ,

RaceFebruary 19th 2008.

I went once when it first opened and it took over 40mins to get a toasted bagel and longer for the breakast AND we were the only people in there mid morning, mid week. Not a winner for me, shame as it's a great little site.

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

Still Open !!!!!!!!!

Tel BoyFebruary 19th 2008.

I am just about to go for brunch , has this place closed yet ?

ClintFebruary 19th 2008.

The plain and simple truth of the matter is, it does not matter one bit that you know the waitress . Indeed the only thing that does matter is her shrinking band of customers think she is indifferent , rude and according to these comments a bit of an amateur . Do what I did and vote with your feet

red kevFebruary 19th 2008.

Blimey , Go Noel, Go Noel !

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

Im a regular at Cafe Cilantro. it is true the service is terrible, but the fantastic home made pancakes with maple syrup are definatley worth the wait.

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

Bring back Diamond Dogs!

AlfieFebruary 19th 2008.

Red Kev , I think thats a bit of wishful thinking on your part , I have just walked past it and there was a couple of people in there........ fools

Kenneth WilliamsFebruary 19th 2008.

went home for a big sausage eh? Ooh matron!

NoelFebruary 19th 2008.

Whilst the surly waiteress is getting a rough ride , great service comes from the top and from the lower rungs of the ladder . To prove my point , do you remember the American waiteress at Diamond dog she was quite brilliant at delivering a great experience . Bad and indifferent service should be rooted out and exposed , thank God for Manchester Confidential . To the owner of Cafe Cilantro heres a piece of advice from the USA " Find out what your customers want , give it to them , consistenly ! " Not rocket science , and then perhaps the rants might be a bit more encouraging

daveFebruary 19th 2008.

the chefs will be all out of energy and on their last legs…CHORLTON IS PANTS. if the locals got their heads out of their arses they'll see it is a dirty hole!

MiffedFebruary 19th 2008.

I arrived at Cilantro one Thursday at 10.28am and tried the door as it was closed. It turned out to be locked so I decided to wait a couple of minutes till it opened at 10.30. However, I spotted the waitress coming over to open the door and as she did gave her a big smile. "You're a bit early, aren't you?" she hissed. OK....that was me told. "You'd better come in, I suppose". I actually felt myself starting to apologise...

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2008.

Hey Tel Boy , how did the brunch go ?

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