Rosylee Tea Rooms

8 Sep

The thing I adore most about living in a city is the smorgasbord of entertainment it offers up, and should you happen to live in a particularly good city, the variety of tastes it appeals to and adequately caters for. Each and every bite of a different piece of the city offers up its own unique flavour, shaped by the bars, restaurants and shops that set out their stall and the unique set of people it subsequently attracts.

As recent press coverage has testified, Manchester is a particularly tasty city, and as regular readers well know, I like to wrap my chops around it regularly. As a food blogger, my particular poison is food, and love knowing that heading down to Spinningfields for an evening will offer me all the spit, polish and slicked back hair I need for an evening of classy cocktails, or that King Street will see me rub shoulders with an overpaid footballer and my head over an overpriced Italian meat platter.

My favourite piece of the Manchester pie has been always been the Northern Quarter. Sure, it’s overrun with hipsters, but it’s always a joy to see the latest trend in facial hair, and I love the creative, visually louche attitude of its inhabitants and the indie bars and restaurants the population supports. These red brick walkways support many a mean tea shop (see North Tea Power) and real ale havens (see Port Street Beer House), and there’s not a month goes by that sees itself without a pop up cocktail bar or new street food concept being trialled

Changes are afoot though, people. With many southern businesses moving north to take advantage of the talent in and around Manchester, and its bold new face as the north’s media hub bringing an influx of new professionals looking for fine experiences to spend on, the city’s offering is naturally changing with it. The mushrooming of fine dining establishments pays testament to that. Both Simon Rogan’s The French and Aiden Byrne’s soon to open Manchester House are prime examples of food businesses ripe to take advantage of a more monied and cultured clientele.

Living slap bang in the centre of the Northern Quarter, the change has been marked. No chain restaurants as yet, but now in-the-know party goers from Manchester’s surrounding area have marked the land west of Great Ancoats Street as their playground, and the too cool-for-school drinking dens and never-say die-burger joints (come back, Almost Famous) proves an irresistible pull for young professionals. Only on a weeknight does the alternative soul of the Northern Quarter live on, but with more concepts opening and appealing to the masses than the traditional niche, for how long?

Rosylee Dining Room

Rosylee Dining Room

Case in point, Rosylee Tea Rooms. For months, I’ve watched with interest the development of the vast space above Hula, wondering how in the face of Sugar Junction and Home Sweet Home, it would carve itself a place in the heart of the city’s twee café culture. Going upmarket, is the answer. The décor is breath taking. A slick monochrome and red brick colour scheme, with soft lighting and garlands hanging from the walls – not to mention the largest outdoor seating space in the area – the summer soft launch has already proved it to be an irresistible draw.

Rosylee Bar

Rosylee Bar

I paid a short visit after a long holiday in Cornwall, and though I couldn’t quite bring myself to tackle afternoon tea after two weeks of inhaling every cream tea I came across, I did manage a cocktail and a couple of ‘light bites’. One week into opening, the service was a little shonky, taking over twenty minutes to place my order, but the girls in pearls (as seems to be dress code) were lovely, and very passionate about the new venture. Passing here on my way home from work every night, the service appears to have settled in. Well, the punters always seem happily fed and watered, anyway.

Goat's Cheese Bon Bons

Goat’s Cheese Bon Bons

Twice Cooked Chips

Twice Cooked Chips

The food was faultless. Goat’s cheese bon bons lightly seasoned with black pepper and made moreish with lemon zest were perfectly bread crumbed, and the accompanying twice-cooked chips (forgive me, I’m northern) were fat, crisp and golden. It’s enough to tempt me back, and having read other decent reviews, will be returning soon. The iced tea cocktail was less successful, on account of a heavy hand with the sugar syrup, obliterating the exciting breakfast tea, rhubarb and lemon juice flavours promised, but the feedback was taken on board, which is always a good sign.

Breakfast Tea Cocktail

Breakfast Tea Cocktail

In the name of pulling the restaurant theme together, the menus are a little overly conceptualised. Wordy introductions and mellifluous naming conventions jar a little, but with a fairly standard but well put together food offering – niçoise salad and steak crostini – and some interesting cocktail flavour introductions – kaffir lime and plum – for an establishment that wouldn’t look out of place on King Street, it should continue to do well, and should they sort the cocktail issues out, perhaps draw in some of the old school NQ crowd? I’ve yet to spot a bearded wonder, but there’s time.

So have you been to Rosylee Tea Rooms? What did you think of the food and drink? Are establishments like this a welcome addition to the Northern Quarter or simply contributing to its gentrification? All comments welcome.

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