Last week I had a surprise invite to review the Oak Street Cafe Bar, where along with other food bloggers and local reviewers, we got treated to a fabulous lunch and some wine tasting. Housed inside Manchester Craft and Design Centre in the Northern Quarter, I never even knew the cafe (or the centre) existed until last week. And what a little gem it is.
It's not a vegan cafe, but the owner Karen Hadgett told us that much of the time, they end up serving vegan and vegetarian food, as it is what seems to sell the best there. And seeing as the majority of us at the review lunch were vegan (four out of six of us, go vegans!), the majority of the food we were indulged with was vegan, too. In fact of all the many scrumptious dishes served, there were only two of them that the vegan posse wouldn't eat, as they were vegetarian dishes.
We were presented with some very tasty options. The leek tart was especially good, as was the falafel on flat bread with a tomato based sauce, and there was also a spicy Thai peanut soup, but it was the Malaysian curry that everyone went mad for on the first plate of food we were served! This extraordinarily creamy, coconut based curry was divine. I savoured every mouthful.
Also brought to the table were huge bowls of Bombay potatoes, a rainbow beetroot salad with chocho (a Mexican pumpkin), and a fabulous platter of baby aubergine and pomegranate drizzled with tahini. Plus, we got to try the vegan flatbread pizza too. Yummy.
We did, of course, have a nice choice of teas and coffee, with soya milk available. And we got treated to a short wine tasting of the three Spanish vegan wines on offer at Oak Street - produced by family-owned cooperative Castillo del Moro, there is a crisp sauvignon blanc, a light and refreshing rose, and a fruity tempranillo syrah. For dessert, it was a to-die-for chocolate amaretto cake with chocolate ganache, and a spelt, banana, date and walnut cake. Gluten free needs are always catered for here.
One of the nice things about eating here is that you can get a lot of dishes off-the-menu, depending on what produce has been sourced that day by Karen, from local markets and stores like Unicorn in Chorlton. Chef Liz Kine is inventive with her food creations, and can usually knock something up to suit whatever needs or tastes you have. Karen says, just ask!
The cafe itself is inside the middle of the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, a building with small design businesses such as jewellery and art, lining each side of it. It's a peaceful spot to breakaway from the madness of Manchester and find something good to eat and drink (as well as support local businesses), and definitely a good place to meet friends for lunch on a Saturday or even have a week-day work lunch.
Now I have discovered this little gem, I'll definitely be back.