Being quite new to the Manchester area, I’d never heard of Oak Street Cafe until I caught a glimpse of Tea and Sympatico’s review during Vegan Mofo. That quick glimpse was all I needed to peak my interest, so I was delighted when Oak Street contacted me asking if I would like to come and sample some food from their new menu. Obviously it was a no brainer.
I have to start off by saying that I had a wonderful afternoon which was down to everything being so well thought out, great company and incredible food. It was so well organised, with a few other reviewers from the Manchester area attending at the same time. Luckily for me I happened to already know a few too. It was great to meet new people as well as getting the chance to catch up with some good friends.
I don’t think there was anything that could have prepared me for the amount of food that was brought to our table. It was unbelievable, everything bar one or two dishes was completely vegan, an added bonus! We started off with a tasting plate. This contained a Thai Tomato & Peanut Soup, Yam Curry, Leek Tart and a Falafel Flatbread. All of these samples were delicious. The soup was fresh and bursting with flavour, the tart was a beautiful mix of sweetness from slow cooked leeks and perfectly flaky pastry and the curry was probably one of the best curries I have ever had to pleasure to eat. It was so creamy and had a little heat but not too much thanks to the coconut. The falafel was also impressive, though I don’t think I could ever have any complaints when it comes to falafel!
I thought that was going to be all we would get…but no! More dishes popped up on the table. We had Baby Aubergines topped with Tahini and Pomegranate Seeds. Oh my! These were amazing! I would never have thought to add pomegranate but it was a perfect combination. I was concerned that aubergine and tahini could be a little bitter but the sweetness from the pomegranate seeds complemented it perfectly.
Next we tried Bombay Potatoes and a Rainbow Beetroot and Cho Cho Salad. The potatoes were definitely a hit for me and will be on my list the next time I go along to the cafe. The salad was also great, sweet and earthy – I couldn’t get enough! Just when I thought I was ready for my afternoon nap, a lovely vegan pizza came along! A lovely edition and it was incredibly light as instead of a heavy dough, the base was on a nice crispy flatbread.
I think at this point we all needed a break from eating, so we were treated to a wine tasting (did I tell you how well organised this was?!) and a chat with the owner Karen and chef Liz. I won’t say too much on the wine because I’m definitely not an expert on the subject. It was fab to experience a proper tasting though! The chat with Karen and Liz really helped me to understand what this lovely cafe wants to achieve. Karen went into detail explaining that she likes dishes to be produced from fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. Quite often she will go out shopping and pick a selection of ingredients and then bring them to Liz, who gets to play around with ideas and flavours. I loved this idea and I think this approach is what brought such exciting dishes to our table that afternoon. Karen also wants the cafe to cater to everyone, which is why there is such a large selection of vegan and gluten free dishes on the menu. This positive attitude to being inclusive to all really impressed me and will definitely be bringing me back to Oak Street Cafe.
After our wine and chat we were given even more food…CAKE! There were two vegan options that day Chocolate Amaretto and Banana Date and Walnut Loaf. I was thinking if there was one weakness at the cafe, decent vegan cakes could be it. I’m so glad I was wrong. I was so impressed, they weren’t dry and horrible…they were rich, decadent and beautifully moist. I was particularly impressed by the loaf as it was made with spelt flour, something I haven’t quite mastered yet. The Chocolate Amaretto was incredible, an unusual flavour as well.
I left with a full stomach, rosy cheeks and a huge smile on my face. It really was a perfect afternoon and I would like thank all at Oak Street Cafe and the brilliant company that made this happen. The one thing that really struck me about the food here was how light it was. I didn’t feel like everything was coated in oil, the bread and pastry was nice and light…it really was the perfect kind of food for an afternoon lunch. If you’re around the Manchester area, this is definitely a place worth experiencing. I can’t wait for the next chance I get to pop in, even if it’s just for a cup of tea and slice of cake!
I would like to say an extra thank you to Caroline from Tea and Sympatico who has saved my skin with this blog post by sharing her photos with me. I wasn’t so disorganised to not bother taking any, but I broke my phone shortly after and lost all of the tasty looking snaps I took. Thank you Caroline!