Elsa had been wanting to try Federal Cafe and Bar for a while as she heard they make good breakfasts/brunches; they serve New Zealand and Australian food. Elsa and Ryo struggled a bit to find it as the place is relatively new to Manchester at the time and there weren’t many external photos of the cafe, but it was literally opposite the end of Arndale market. We arrived at about 12:30 pm, just as a crowd was leaving and another entered. We were both surprised at how popular this place was.
Elsa: The view outside Federal isn’t the best as it overlooks Arndale and the tram lines. With its unassuming exterior, it is easy to overlook this place.
Ryo: I agree. And the small-ish sign doesn’t help either. It’s situated almost at the end of northern quarter/just before the Arndale centre – a strip of road I’ve never really explored for food… Not that it’s bad, it just can be easy to overlook.
Elsa: The interior has an industrial feel. It was a shame we got seated at the bar tables instead of a proper one; I feel these aren’t as comfortable for short people. I do like how they reused milk bottles for tap water.
Ryo: Seems like the industrial design is definitely in. As much as I love it, I’m also getting increasingly bored with it. I thought these small independent cafes would have their own distinctive edge? The last five independent cafes I visited looked almost identical to each other, offering the same type of food and beverages. It’s not that it’s bad – it just makes you wonder how long this theme will last.
Elsa: I like the menu as it’s very different from the traditional British breakfasts I tend to see. Although the menu is small, the variety is decent as there are light and heavy options as well as, sweet and savoury. If you’re after something really meaty, this place is not for you. Not shown here is a separate menu for sandwiches which are £3.95 to eat out or £5 to eat in. Details on their website.
Ryo: As Elsa said, they offer a variety of simple, light(ish) meals – which makes sense since it’s a small place with a small open kitchen. So even if they wanted to cook anything complicated, I don’t think they could. What I found quite interesting in their menu is that it is actually very brunch oriented. There are a lot of cafes and restaurants offer brunches, but many of them also offer “normal” menus. Except sandwiches, however, this place puts emphasis on the breakfast/brunch menu. In a way – it is a very smart move, Manchester lacks true brunch places.
Dish 1 – Eggs Benedict
Ryo: I opted out for a classic item – Eggs Benedict. I choose bacon to go with my eggs (because you can’t go wrong with bacon) but you can also ask for ham and smoked salmon. It’s a shame that I had burst out the egg yolks before Elsa took the photo because these were like text-book worthy poached eggs! And the sourdough muffin was nicely toasted and the hollandaise sauce was light. However, I should also point out that the spinach was almost non-existent but what little I had, it tasted good. Also, another downside – the portion was very small. I expected something slightly more substantial, especially for the price (£6.5). Maybe more spinach and/or another toasted muffin?
Dish 2 – Halloumi and shrooms
Elsa: I chose the Halloumi and Shrooms as I wanted something a bit hefty. The halloumi was lovely, the mushrooms were really nicely seasoned and the poached eggs were cooked to perfection. The relish was a nice touch to an otherwise fairly dry meal. The only thing I felt was a downer was the sourdough toast as I felt this was a bit too hard and struggled to enjoy it along with the other components of the meal.
Overall rating and comments
Elsa: 8/10 -1 for the uncomfortable bar chair, -1 for the menu selection. I quite enjoy this place as a nice alternative to a traditional English breakfast. The portion I found was alright for my dish and it was nice to finish the food comfortably without feeling overstuffed. I’ve heard that their coffee is good too, but since I don’t drink it I can’t say either way. I’ve also heard they do matcha latte, but haven’t tried this also.
Ryo: 7/10 -1 for uncomfortable bar chair, -2 for the small portion. I tried to form a sentence to describe this place but all I can think of it, is that it’s “nice”. It’s not extraordinarily good nor bad, everything is “nice”? If you are looking for a good, honest breakfast/brunch place , it is a good contender. But go when you are not too hungry, the portion – at least the Egg Benedict- was very small.
Would visit again?
Elsa: I do like this place and will probably go again. Granted their menu is quite limited, but it is a refreshing change from the usual English breakfasts.
Ryo: I liked the place, but I probably won’t visit here again. Not because I didn’t enjoy it but because their menu is quite limited and I’m not actually that big on Brunches. Having said that, if you are into Brunches, this is definitely a good place to try.
There are two branches of Federal Cafe and Bar. One in Northern Quarter and the other on Deansgate.
Address: 9 Nicholas Croft, Manchester M4 1EY
Address: 194 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3ND