Manhattan Coffee House

August 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Posted in Cafe | Leave a comment
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It’s encouraging to take stock of just how many independent coffee shops are in Sheffield city centre. If you’re off the booze (i.e hungover) but still have a hankering for something wet, you can plump for Starbucks or Costa Coffee, or you can take a gamble on one of Sheffield’s many independent coffee shops.

I’ve walked past Manhattan Coffee House countless times, and there’s always someone sat outside with a newspaper and a cup of the hot stuff (I’ve actually seen some determined sod sat outside with an umbrella in one hand and a steaming hot cuppa in the other). So, this weekend we decided to see what these coffee fans knew, that we didn’t.

Upon stepping inside, we were immediately impressed by the size of the place. The handful of metal tables squeezed onto the pavement suggests a rather pokey venue, but Manhattan is a roomy cafe that isn’t stingy when it comes to dishing out the space between its many comfy chairs and sofas. There is also a pleasant, laidback atmosphere that you rarely get in Eccy Road venues – this is the sort of place where people come to do crosswords and read their newspapers in peace. The staff are polite and efficient, and the prompt table service means there’s rarely more than one party at the till. Manhattan is also onto a winner with the decor, which includes beautiful displays of white flowers draped around the ceiling’s exposed pipes, and warm amber lighting. The hustle, bustle and noise of Ecclesall Road feels a million miles away inside this chilled establishment.

So, top marks for the setting, but what about the coffee? The menu is extensive with a few twists to boot: cafeterias-for-one; a scrummy-sounding “hot chocolate sundae,” and plenty of icy, summertime favourites like frappucinos. I opted for an old favourite, a regular mocha (£2.60) which came with a rich layer of foamed milk and lashings of cocoa powder. It was also served with an obligatory biscuit, a nice touch that’s often missing from the big coffee chains.

Also arriving at our table was a cafeteria for one (£2.50) which isn’t a common feature on coffee shop menus (presumably because of all the washing-up it creates!) Manhattan’s cafeteria is available for several types of coffee, but our reviewer opted for columbian.

Besides the novelty value of plunging your own cuppa, ground coffee trumps its filtered counterpart everytime, and it’s refreshing to have the option of a cafeteria even if the other members of your party aren’t big fresh coffee fans. Manhattan also gets top marks for serving the accompanying milk hot. It’s these thoughtful touches that make independent venues like Manhattan worth a punt, rather than playing it safe with household names.

But Manhattan doesn’t just serve coffee, there’s a selection of indulgent hot chocolates too. The Manhattan Luxury Hot Chocolate (£3.50) is piled high with cream, pink and white marshmallows and finished off with a Flake.

This should be a sugar-addict’s dream in a mug, but the temperature of the hot chocolate spoiled this delicious-looking drink. Mashing the whipped cream into the hot chocolate (and let’s face it, who DOESN’T do that with a whipped cream topping?) made the drink unpleasantly cool. If you’re craving something sweet, you’re better off sticking to the Plain Hot Chocolate (£2.60) which is a no-frills mug of good old fashioned hot choccie. Ours even came with a pretty chocolate swirl etched into the milk; what more could you want?

Manhattan is a pleasant and surprisingly swankily-decorated, coffee shop. While it could take a leaf out of Tamper Coffee’s book and serve Our Cow Molly’s super fresh milk, it still stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Starbucks and Costa in terms of taste – even if it gets pipped to the post by Tamper.

A decent cuppa at a sensible price, in welcoming surroundings. If it’s a choice between Manhattan and the Costa Coffee just around the corner, there really is no contest.

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Nosh

August 19, 2012 at 9:20 am | Posted in Cafe | Leave a comment
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As someone who enjoys whiling away Sunday morning in a coffee shop, it’s currently one of my biggest bugbears that Tamper Coffee doesn’t open on a Sunday (waaaaah!) The upside is that we’re always trying out new places for our little Sunday morning coffee club, which is how we discovered Nosh this week.

Located as central-as-they-come on Division Street, Nosh is a bright, pleasant and cheap-as-chips purveyor of hot drinks and assorted snacks. We placed our order at the till, where we were served by a very pleasant waitress who, rather than rushing through our order, took the time to exchange a few pleasantries with us – a surefire way to make new customers feel positive about a place.

We slipped into one of several surprisingly private booths and awaited our food and drinks. We were caught out by the fact that there wasn’t table service for hot drinks, and quickly returned to the counter for the liquid part of our order. There was also something a bit budget-hotel about the plastic tubs of sugar sachets and other condiments on the table, but these niggles were soon forgotten when we tucked into our hot drinks and snacks.

First up, was a bargain £1.95 latte which came nicely presented in a tall glass. Although the Our Cow Molly milk is sorely missing (Tamper, you’ve spoiled us!) this is still a cut above most big chains.

My hot chocolate was rich and indulgent without being sickly, even the dregs at the bottom were delicious rather than silty with undissolved chocolate powder. The drink was finished off with (un)healthy lashings of yummy chocolate powder. At £2.19 this treat is an absolute steal.

But that wasn’t the biggest bargain of the morning: the bacon, egg and cheese muffin we ordered came in at a pocket-friendly £1.60. A little dubious about this cheapie breakfast, we were pleasantly surprised by what showed up: a freshly-cooked, no-frills treat of tasty bacon, perfectly-cooked egg and a large slice of cheese. Grease-free and obviously pulled straight off the grill, our reviewer raved about the taste, the freshness and, of course, the price.

A large americano (£2.10) to wash down the muffin equalled one very happy camper.

Nosh is a cheap and cheerful place, set in bright, clean surroundings – they may pedal bargain butties, but there’s nothing ‘greasy spoon’ about them. Nosh serve a decent, Fairtrade cuppa (at this point, it goes without saying you can get better coffee elsewhere in the city) but it’s the no-frills food where they really excel. Do yourself a favour, and treat yourself to a budget-friendly breakfast sarnie while you’re there. If you’re on a tight schedule and/or a tight budget, quick, pleasant and pocket-friendly Nosh is the way to go.

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