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Eighth Day

Trudie Robinson seeks out the perfect veggie meal at Eighth Day and leaves underwhelmed

Published on March 27th 2008.

Eighth Day

When this reviewer first stepped through this vegetarian co-operative’s doors it was a cosy affair, full of mismatched furniture and stripped boards. The café dominated the premises and the health food shop was squeezed into a narrow outlet next door. The café originally opened in 1970, moving to its current premises in 1972 and in 1976 it became a co-op. Then in 2001 the whole building was re-furbished and re-built. They moved into their new space on the same site in 2003.

Overall dishes could do with a little more oomph, and the bizarre timing (quick, get your Belgian waffle order in before 3pm) of certain dishes is irritating.

Now the shop dominates the ground floor, an airy space with shelves full of all manner of veggie and vegan treats from wheat-free bread to a wide variety of vegetarian sausages, vegan chocolate to locally produced organic fruit and veg, plus a widened range of cosmetics and toiletries, herbal remedies and a spacious deli counter.

The café meanwhile is relegated to the basement. In the first few weeks of re-opening this was a shock as the space felt completely different. The open stairwell leading down to the eatery shed some natural daylight and there were a handful of plants, but the main light sources were stark and florescent, bouncing off the cream walls, pale furniture and exposed silver pipes. Now however it feels more homely, blocks of red have been painted onto the walls and fairy lights curl around decorative twigs.

Settling in with a drink, I downed a James White carrot and apple juice - very refreshing - whilst my companion opted for an organic lemonade which he declared tasted just like traditional lemonade.

Then to the mains. Not including two soups, there were just four choices on the canteen style counter, two bakes – samosa pie and Stilton or fennel and lentil pancakes, and two stews, a nutty Stroganoff and a dahl accompanied by a choice of five salads (though there appeared to be only three when I was served) fried spuds, parsnips or greens and rice and variety of bread. If that didn’t pique your interest then there were a choice of pizzas with various toppings: feeling uninspired by the choice over the counter and with the breakfast fry up options unavailable in the afternoon (even at weekends), these were the things my meat eating friend opted for. Having to order and wait for the pizza meant that my meal was dished up way before his, something to note for the future, but wasn’t pointed out by the staff.

The samosa pie, served with a side salad and sweet and lightly tangy chutney, was big and filling. The vegetable base gently spiced and fragrant and the filo top, crispy and light. The pizza looked appetising enough, plenty of cheese and toppings, but on sampling it appeared bland as though something was missing. On closer inspection it was revealed to be the tomato base that was thin, watery, without any herbs mixed in to add a kick.

For pudding, four desserts and cakes were on offer plus a variety of tray bakes and loaf cakes. My companion, squeamish about the open nature of the display cabinet, opted for a wrapped up (but homemade) Brownie which lacked body and would have benefited from being moist. As would my choice of the orange and pistachio cake (from the open cabinet – I like my cake with a hint of danger…): it too, though pleasant, was a little light on flavour. The coffees were fine and there’re healthy alternatives - herbal teas and coffee substitute Barley Cup.

Overall dishes could do with a little more oomph, and the bizarre timing (quick, get your Belgian waffle order in before 3pm) of certain dishes is irritating. This is a shame as it mars this otherwise lovely establishment. The verdict then, is that the shop is great but the café hit and miss. We should be able to expect the same standards from a co-operative as we do a proprietor driven venue. A good model for Eighth Day might be Peter Booth’s café in the Whitworth Art Gallery down the road, which does this cosy, homely dining style, albeit with meat, very very well.

Rating: 12/20
Breakdown: 6/10 Food
3/5 Service
3/5 Ambience
Address: Eighth Day Cafe
111 Oxford Road
0161 273 1850
Mon-Fri 8.30am-7pm
Sat 9.30am-7pm

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

SharonMarch 27th 2008.

This review is spot on. Eighth Day could be a lot better with more energetic and involved staff in the cafe. It's almost like they think we should just applaud them for doing things in a co-operative way. No, the same standards apply whatever the nature of the business.

JulieMarch 27th 2008.

I eat and shop here often, and have found the staff in the shoop and cafe very freindly and helpfull. I recommend it to all my friends, who like me, are neither vegetarian or vegan

AnonymousMarch 27th 2008.

their way of serving is a kind of a "shop at a school festival"? Also, so slow, and some of them are too proud of being a "vegetarian", as if they believe "we are the best" (this may be the case for the staff at the shop upstairs?). I wish they could think of how customers feel a bit more. Some years ago, they did a "restaurant" in the evening. Although the serving was slow, it was nice.

AnonymousMarch 27th 2008.

er, I go eighth day all the time and have never ever noticed anyone being preachy about being vegetarian...I think you might have made this up.there's nothing worse than preachy meat eaters!

tofuturkeyMarch 27th 2008.

They do great vegan chocolate cakes and tarts, but i'm not sure i'd eat much else from the cafe. It's a bit old school ie all a bit sawdusty and worthy. Veggie and vegan food has moved on...

KtMarch 27th 2008.

I agree with the comments above. I really enjoy Earth cafe in northern quarter.. its a little less rustic, the staff act like normal people who don't feel more important. Theres nothing worse than a preachy Vegan/Vegetarian who thinks they are better than others!

AnonymousMarch 27th 2008.

Yes, eighth day was great when the cafe was on the ground floor and we could eat cake and watch the world go by.

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