Manchester Art Gallery’s reputation goes further than art these days – and the cafe is a foodie destination in itself. Under the auspices of former Fat Duck chef, Mary-Ellen McTague, the cafe renewed a commitment to food sourced from local producers and suppliers, with everything from cakes, scones and croissants to pesto made in house from scratch each day. She moved on to set up the Creameries in Chorlton earlier this year and new head chef is Matt Taylor, formerly of Hotel Gotham (which he launched and secured an AA Rosette for his cooking). But for all Taylor’s accolades, the Gallery Cafe is very much a place for the people. The vibe is on-trend Scandinavian chic (fans of which may also like to check out the current Nordic Craft and Design show on the Gallery’s top floor), though the first thing you notice when you enter is the array of beautifully crafted desserts. Cakes of the day are written on the vintage-style glass cabinet. Options could include peanut butter cheesecake, chocolate honeycomb, and gingerbread cake. Mains and snacks take in everything from daily changing veggie tarts to fresh soups and more foodie mains. On our visit these included mackerel perfectly matched by pickles (of which there are plenty on the menu) and confit duck leg. Not bad for under £10 a portion. Vegetarians are brilliantly catered for too; the celery, airy goats cheese and apple salad is thrill. Wines and drinks include high tannin, big bodied house rioja, But it’s the cakes and bakes that see the kitchen coming into its own; the raspberry and coconut cake made me want to spend all day here, and have afternoon tea with a cake and tea as well. It can be easy for cafes in art galleries to become the exclusive haunt of tourists, as locals wander off to favourite restaurants nearby. Not so the Gallery Cafe which feels like it’s got something for regulars and visitors alike.
The Gallery Café, Manchester Art Gallery, 81 Princess Street, Manchester M1 4HR. Tel: 0161 235 8888, Breakfasts available from 10-11.30 am everyday, Lunch available from 11.30-3pm. www.manchesterartgallery.org
Published on: Fri 14 Sep 2018