It made sense to review both places in the same post as they're both part of the same family and are just a short 10 minute walk away from each other; Teacup Kitchen located slap bang in the middle of the increasingly busy Thomas Street and Proper Tea located directly opposite the entrance to Manchester Cathedral.
The close relationship is obvious on immediate sight of either establishment as the design throughout (including font, colours, menus) is kept close to the other but due to the very different locations both spots have a clear personality of their own. There is also cross-over on the food and drink range, with both sharing the same core range of teas, coffees and cakes but with Proper Tea having a food menu that focuses more on smaller snack dishes to go with their teas.
Both locations are fantastic to drop into casually for a drink and one of their broad range of cakes. They both cover a lot of the classics and you can safely expect to see (among others) Victoria sponge, flourless chocolate, lemon cake, brownies, rainbow cake, red velvet and more displayed on the counter for you to admire. From the point of view of a greedy customer it's excellent having the choice between these or the equally enjoyable over the top cakes that Home Sweet Home are dishing out a short walk from both spots.
I've been into Teacup Kitchen on countless occasions now and there's often a queue out the door which speaks volumes for the quality on display especially given it's not one of those places that you see much 'hype' (horrible word, forgive me) about. The main food menu is based around brunch options and sandwiches and to accompany the food they have an imaginative tea menu, smoothies, milkshakes and coffees (which are extremely strong, a massive plus for me). There's usually a couple of daily specials as well which often showcase some real imagination and ensuring there's always something interesting to try.
I enjoy Teacup Kitchen at all times of the day, it often quietens down in the early evening on weekends making it a great place for a casual drink and chat with friends but my favourite part of their menu is undoubtedly breakfast. It's easily one of my favourite places to nurse a hangover after over-indulging the evening before.
On this specific occasion I was in early morning and had a "Royale Northern" which is their take on the classic eggs benedict, served with smoked salmon on toasted sourdough toast. All the individual elements were of a good standard, the yolks added to the sauce ensured there was sufficient moistness to the dish and leaving behind ample hollandaise and yolk mix to dip up with the leftover toast. The capers and peashoots were a great addition, genuinely adding to the hollandaise acidity and lightening up the dish.
I also tried the "Superfood Porridge" which consists of milled oats served piping hot topped with mixed seeds, roasted coconut, raisins and agave syrup. Porridge is a difficult thing to make exciting but this both looked and tasted fantastic, the syrup melted through the oats avoiding the tasteless gloop that's often hidden away at the bottom of a porridge bowl and there was more than enough fruit to ensure it didn't disappear in the first few spoonfuls.
For dessert (that's right, breakfast dessert) I went for a slice of the red velvet cake and an Aretha Franklin smoothie, made up of apple juice, raspberries, mango and banana. The cake was exactly as I'd want - moist, plenty of icing and a big enough wedge to kill the sugar cravings for a while.
Proper Tea at Manchester Cathedral
Proper Tea is just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the city resulting in a very quiet and relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant is stunning inside, the huge windows on the corners ensure a perfect view of the Cathedral and that the place is flooded with light which really emphasises the wonderful tiled floor and white interior. They also have a couple of tables tucked outside, which on the rare occasion the sun is out are often snapped up quickly.
Food wise, on this occasion they had just introduced the new summer menu which was stuffed with interesting sounding salads (Mackerel, chicken, salmon, goats cheese tart or halloumi with a choice of sides) as well as meaty, vegetarian and cheese platters. All sounded ideal to share or dip into yourself.
Firstly I tried the smoked mackerel which had the skin removed so there was no faffing about to do! This was accompanied by a little pot of beetroot creme fraiche and a side of green bean, feta and almond salad. The crunch of the green beans with the mackerel and creme fraiche was a delight, a really enjoyable plate of food.
The second salad I tried was the halloumi, tomato and olives (which came served warm) and was accompanied with tabbouleh, roasted vegetables and spicy avocado sauce. Of the two this was my favourite, it looked and tasted absolutely fantastic and genuinely healthy - the avocado sauce was a new one on me but added a rich creaminess to the salad, completely avoiding what could have been quite a dry dish.
For dessert I went with the lemon cake and the coconut carrot cake which were slightly disappointing on this visit (the first time I've had issues). The sponge in both slices tasted a day past best, this visit was made on a bank holiday so all I can think is that they'd done a large bake to cover the long weekend. Both pieces still got polished off but it did take a slight shine off things on this visit.
So, which would I recommend? I'd actually be hard pushed to choose a preference and it's great having both options on my doorstep knowing that whether I'm in the mood for a relaxed cuppa with a salad in a beautiful scenic location or a cracking brunch in a buzzing little restaurant I'm well covered. Both locations are definitely recommended.