I’m drawn to places with character, whether a club or bar, music venue, cafe or restaurant, town or city. Probably explains why I love Manchester so much. So when I was invited to Evelyn’s (previously known as Superstore up until August this year) in the ever evolving Northern Quarter to try out the offerings, I jumped at the chance.
I once went to the Tib Street location under its former name and instantly fell in love with the aesthetics of the place; cosy but modern, chic without being pretentious, and quirky little touches dotted around. I feel like this has been retained but with a bit more of a stepped-up polish; the decor has been carefully thought out in a way that remains simplistic yet charismatic within the light and airy space, filled with greenery in the form of plants and a huge fig tree to welcome guests.
Going back to my point about places that have personality and are genuinely eclectic. Perusing the menu with my good friend and fellow blogger Chyaz, it’s clear that the food presents something a little different than the surrounding bars and restaurants. The new owners are the same people behind the infamous Mughli as well as two neighbourhood cafes in London; I’ve heard good things so my standards were high!
There isn’t a distinct or obvious type of cuisine; rather a sophisticated and mature menu with Asian inspired flavours, offering plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options which catered for both Chyaz and I. We’re talking things like Korean Fried Chicken & Roasted Chilli, to a selection of grown-up sandwiches (Turkey & Lemongrass Patty with Carrot, Beet, Chilli Ginger Mayo & Shoestring Fries, anyone?), then onto Quinoa, Bulgar Wheat, Whipped Tofu Kale & Beets Salad and big plates including Seared Mackerel, Chilli, Ginger Vegetables & Black Rice.
Mouth watering already? That’s just a little taster. With options clearly labelled as gluten-free or vegetarian (hooray!), it took me ages to decide – it’s a novelty to have so much choice. Not wanting to fill ourselves up, Chyaz and I shared the Grilled Aubergine with Coriander Yogurt & Sumac to start. Sounds simple, but my god, this small dish packed a flavoursome punch. Chyaz said herself, it’s amazing how something so simple like aubergine can be transformed when partnered with the right flavours. An impressive dish to warm-up our meal, this already set the bar high.
Onto the mains. Selecting one of the many vegetarian dishes on offer, Chyaz opted for the Tagliatelle with Hazelnut, Basil, Tomatoes & Parmesan, while the Lamb, Chilli, Mint, Quinoa & Pomegranate Salsa Verde caught my eye. One of my pet hates when eating out is portion size; if I go home still hungry, I ain’t impressed. No need to worry about that at Evelyn’s, thanks to generous plates at a reasonable price.
My dish was not only visually colourful and stunning, it was a wonderful combination of flavours and textures. I wouldn’t usually go for lamb and in the past have found it to be quite fatty, however sliced up into generous chunks of tender meat made this an enjoyable main accompaniment to a delicious concoction of nicely cooked quinoa smothered in herbs. The pomegranate seeds added a satisfying crunch, while the saltiness of the capers really complimented the sweetness of the coriander.
Likewise, Chyaz spoke highly of her pasta dish, a generous bowl of pasta coated in a fresh pesto dotted with cherry tomatoes. Packed with flavour, I asked her if there was anything she’d change or improve about the dish. Her answer? Nothing! I’m sure chef Byron Moses will be pleased to hear that him and his team are onto a winner here.
We couldn’t finish off without dessert, could we? Although full at this point, the sounds of Honey, Avocado & Lime Cheesecake (GF) or Figs, Chocolate & Rosewater Ice Cream were too tempting. Both going for the Yuzu Posset with Blackberries & Chia, these little pots boasted a thick and gorgeously infused sweet cream topped with a contrasting sharpness of berries made for a refreshing and deceivingly filling final course. Next time I come, the cheesecake will definitely be given a whirl.
Let’s not forget the extensive drinks menu, offering everything from wines and cocktails to hot and cold drinks – something for every taste (or thirst?). While Chyaz decided on the homemade Ginger & Mint Lemonade, served in a pretty glass with its own stirrer and brimming with fresh mint leaves, I was pleased with my delicately flavoured Almond Blossom herbal tea. Topping up cucumber and mint infused water on our table throughout the meal was also a nice touch; much more exciting than standard tap water!
It’s touches like this that reflect the attentive, friendly and personable service. We were greeted by Dan (who was wearing the best Christmas jumper I’ve seen) and other members of staff who were all swift without being TOO quick or interfering, plus when asked about details of the food or which drinks they’d recommend, all were on point. Another bonus point in my eyes when eating out.
So we left happy, satisfied and pleasantly impressed with our overall experience. I’d definitely come back again (I still have my eye on many other dishes), not just for a lunch or main meal but for breakfast/brunch too – items like Coconut Chia Pot, Mango, Pineapple & Pomegranate, or the Green Bowl with kale, spinach, avocado, puy lentils & soft-boiled egg sound well up my street, while I’m sure my other half would love the Shakshuka, Baked Eggs, Harissa & Sour Dough. Mouth’s drooling all over again…
That’s one of the main benefits about Evelyn’s: it doesn’t alienate a particular audience so while catering for dietary requirements and offering a few health-focused dishes, it doesn’t shy away from pleasing those who enjoy ‘real’ food too. With a big thumbs up for the people, interior, delicious food at affordable prices and offering something for everyone, this is a place that deserves to be shouted about. Bravo, Evelyn!