ancakes and waffles and bacon and toast and granola. Coffee and hot chocolate and a cheeky glass of fizzy. Brunch, the meal-between-meals, has crept into the hearts of Britons, years after it became a ‘thing’ in America and not a moment too soon. London’s Breakfast Club has long been the sweetheart of pancake aficionados in the capital, but these days cafes catering for this almost-meal are springing up around the country, often in the form of Bill’s or Patisserie Valerie. As it’s become a cultural phenomenon in itself, a symptom of a desire to show class status, whether it’s through getting smashed on prosecco at 11am or being dedicated enough to wait more than an hour just to sit down, a backlash has even started.
But let’s face it – it’s the ultimate diverse meal, a no-rules affair that let’s you go savoury, sweet, or that excellent mix of both. It’s a relaxed couple of hours with friends, not over cocktails in a noisy bar, but over coffees. You don’t have to get up early for it, and leaves enough of the day spare that you can crawl back into your pajamas to binge on Netflix if you want to. And when the economy is still struggling, it’s a little indulgence that stops short of costing the £40 you could easily spend on lunch. Why would you not love brunch?
On Sophie’s (The Cake Hunter) recommendation, the morning after her wedding, Em (Mbakes) and I headed to Moose Coffee in central Manchester for brunch before embarking on the long drive back to London (shout out to Em’s boyfriend for being an absolute gem and driving the whole way). And, um, I think I need to go back to Manchester just to go there again.
The service: We were lucky enough to be in the city over Pride weekend, so spirits were high anyway, but staff were smiley and helpful the whole way through, and – crucially – didn’t rush anyone despite a slight queue forming.
The food & drink: The menu at Moose is an intimidating beast, the kind that draws slow, slack-jawed “Oh my god”s and makes you nudge your mate at least five times before you can make a final decision…and then nick bits off their plate when they arrive. With 20+ options for breakfast alone – before you even get to casting your eye over the array of pancakes, waffles, sandwiches and burgers on offer – it’s a little hard to choose. Of the three of us, two plumped for pancakes, while I went French toast, and we ordered some eggs on the side.
The food comes in perfect, generous portions, exactly what everyone needed on a Sunday morning and slight hangovers. The pancakes were fluffy but substantial, the French toast just the right level of sweet, and the eggs had those gorgeous golden-orange yolks you always hope to see.
But enough about the food – let’s talk about that Moose coffee. Although the drinks menu is almost as extensive as the food options, we had to bypass the shakes – Snickers shake with your breakfast, anyone? – to go for a caffeine hit, and oh boy was that a good choice. On a journey filled with the burnt, bitter-at-the-back-of-your-tongue coffee you get at service stations, Moose’s smooth, well-balanced cappuccino was much needed, the first sips followed by satisfying sighs.
But the star of the show was undeniably the maple syrup. It perhaps sounds a little odd to go to a place with “coffee” in the name and come out fantasising about maple syrup, but, really, brunch often hinges on it. The syrup you drown your pancakes in can make or break the whole experience, if it has the cloying sweetness that usually seems unavoidable. But it was…glorious. Just sweet enough, but not so much that it makes you wince, and strong on that unique maple flavour. As we started to think about packing up and changing into something more post-brunch appropriate for the long drive home, I mopped up the excess on my plate with a final, glorious piece of Em’s pancake, while she tipped up those tiny jugs to let the last drops fall onto her finger tips, ready for licking, like we were the Oliver Twists of maple syrup.
Location & atmosphere: Stylish but fairly simple, Moose is gorgeous but low key, not cripplingly brash and self-aware like, say, London’s Breakfast Club. Filled with the burble of conversation, it’s a pleasant place to pass the time.
The dollar: Coming in at about a tenner each, the prices are fairly standard for a brunch venue.
You’ll love it if… You like brunch, without long queues and over-the-top decor – although I suspect the queueing is a London thing. Moose also has a good range of vegetarian-friendly options.
Find Moose Coffee at 20 York Street, Manchester M2 3BB, or at one of their three Liverpool branches.
For all the info on Manchester’s burger scene, head to Tales of Timler. That boy knows his BBQ.