Early Manchester memories include being persuaded by my friend’s older sister to hang around outside George Best’s shop, hoping he would appear. Best of all was Crowthers dimly-lit little boutique stuffed with gorgeous Biba-style clothes.

Teacup on Thomas St has Mr Scruff the Manchester DJ as an owner and the queues of people (last time I went, stretching outside the door and out into the rain) are here for the imaginative range of cakes, resplendent with icing in delicious colours. At Big Chill Festival one year, Mr Scruff’s cafe by the lake was a major source of sustenance – the fluffiest cappuccinos (yes, I know that may offend some coffee fanatics) partnered with beautiful moist slabs of carrot cake. My waitress told me how Mr Scruff  continues to feed music lovers by taking brownies to his DJ nights.

The pistachio cake, with its creamy filling studded with pistachio chunks, and the aforementioned brownies are delicious; the carrot and coconut cake was yummy but a bit dry. I can’t vouch for the taste of the multicoloured Battenburg but it gets top marks for looks.

Teapot cafe

Sandwiches are just as imaginative – try the confit of belly pork with spiced fig chutney. Although prices aren’t cheap – cake costs around £4.50 a slice, the portions are nice and big.

Teacup on Thomas Street, 53-55 Thomas St, Manchester

Slightly more tucked away in a quiet side street is the intriguingly-named Takk. No, it’s not owned by an Icelander, but its owner is a true Icelandophile.

Takk cafe interior Manchester

This welcoming, generously-sized coffee shop and workspace has nailed that downtown Reykjavik 101 feel, extremely laid back, and imbued with a rambling mixture of vintage and artiness. And in common with Icelandic cafes, you are encouraged to make the place your own, to enjoy the coffee, cakes and Icelandic treats such as liquorice chocolate (when available), sit with your laptop or babies, browse through books in the bookcase at the back, check out the Scandinavian photography exhibition… or just stare into the middle distance in quiet contemplation.

There’s a definite sense of Takk making its mark as a sort of community cafe, somewhere for locals who want to network. I loved the environment of this place and will definitely be back.

Takk cafe

Takk Cafe, Tariff Street, Manchester

2017 update – updated reviews to come:

Ezra and Gil is the recommendation of local friends for coffee, imaginative breakfasts and lunches – it’s close by the David Bowie wall.

* * * Check out Asgeir Trausti who I mentioned back in March (now just known as Asgeir) who is touring in the UK in December. There’s a free 3-track download  on his website at http://asgeirtrausti.bandcamp.com

I’ve recently fallen for Icelandic band Leaves, who I discovered thanks to Stevo’s wonderful blog:

One thought on “Cafe society in the Northern Quarter: tea with DJ Mr Scruff and an Icelandic style venue

  1. Two of my favourite places in Manchester. Recently discovered Takk but it’s fast become my No. 1 hangout place in the boho end of the Northern Quarter. Also check out Drip just round the corner on Hilton Street next time you’re in the area.

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