Review: The Quarter, Hanley

Another recent addition to Hanley’s emerging food and drink scene, The Quarter can be found just opposite Pockets on Piccadilly. If (Tsp.) and RAWR appeal to the hipsters of the six towns with their psychedelic cupcakes and quirky superfood creations then this venue is their cosy older cousin, offering home comforts and the perfect place to relax. After hearing about its launch, Mum and I decided to investigate for a mid-Christmas shopping lunch and I’m delighted to say we certainly weren’t disappointed.

Mismatched furniture and a variety of decorative signs filled the large, open-plan ground floor, including my personal favourite, “I like big cups and I cannot lie.” We chose a small table by the window and were greeted with warmth and enthusiasm as one of the team brought over our menus. Having deliberated over all the options, I finally settled on the The Quarter Bagel- stuffed full of smoked salmon, cream cheese, avocado and rocket, while Mum opted for bacon and cheese oatcakes. I ordered our food and coffees at the till and paid on a very snazzy card machine.

Back at the table and looking out of the window, I was struck by the progress the city is making. I could see another fabulous cafe, a quality menswear store, an art gallery and a theatre all in my line of sight, and The Quarter felt like a natural addition to the scene.While you certainly wouldn’t feel out of place just popping in for a coffee, they also open throughout the evening for food, cocktails and even prosecco. The Quarter themselves will also be hosting a range of entertainment each week, making it an ideal spot for a Saturday night too.

Our food arrived promptly and my bagel exceeded expectations. Smoked salmon and cream cheese will no longer be enough for me – I’m going to need that avocado and rocket in there too and Mum was also very contented with her oatcakes. Accompanied by good quality coffee, we had a wonderful meal and will definitely be returning to support this local business again soon.

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Review: RAWR juice & superfood bar

I first clapped eyes on RAWR a couple of months ago on Twitter, when I stumbled across their Kickstarter project for a second store in Hanley. Their first shop has been open in Newcastle for a good while now but I have still failed to pop by for a visit thus far…

Such was my joy when I heard that the Hanley store had opened this week! Before we’d even made it down Piccadilly, we were greeted by two smiling staff members who were laden with free samples. Their ‘Super Green Machine’ was highlighter-bright but absolutely delicious, which was unexpected to say the least as they assured me there were 81 different greens hidden in there.

When we eventually made it inside, we were encouraged to head upstairs and take a seat, where we found a lovely room flooded with light. The food menu had so much choice and each option had a witty little title [Case Example #1: “All the feta for it.” Genius.] I settled on a Mexicana wrap stuffed with avocado, chilli jam & hummus and while there were a million and one juices and smoothies on offer, I had to give their coffee a go.

Now I usually don’t give a monkeys about how my food looks so long as it tastes good, but RAWR’s presentation was on a whole new level. Like food-magazine-worthy. I tucked in right away and it tasted even better; the hummus was particularly delicious and why isn’t chilli jam a bigger deal? My cappuccino was also excellent and after investigating the Climpson & Sons coffee that RAWR serve, it was encouraging to see that the Hackney-based coffee roasters are striving to build “sustainable & ethical relationships” during the sourcing of their coffee beans.

RAWR’s attention to detail has really brought their Hanley store to life, whether it’s through the book exchange that’s lining the upstairs windowsill or the free tasters or the dinky little boards that each coffee is served on. What’s more, the team were super friendly & welcoming throughout our visit. And why wouldn’t they be, they’ve crafted an establishment to be proud of!

Go see them soon at 31 Piccadilly, Hanley!


 

More info at: http://www.bemorerawr.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/bemorerawrhan/?fref=ts 

Climpson & Sons Coffee: http://www.climpsonandsons.com/

TOP FIVE: Breakfasts in the Potteries

Breakfast might just be my favourite meal of the day…(but then I say this about lunch and tea so perhaps I’m just a huge food fan all round?) and Stoke & its surrounding areas appear to have developed quite a range of tasty places to start the day. Here are 5 that I think are worth a try…

  1. Chiquito, The Hive

A Mexican breakfast might not be for everyone, but Rach & I are massive fans. There are various dishes on the menu but the Eggs Bravos is truly spectacular: poached eggs sit on top of guacamole and salsa-smothered sauteed potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce. They also serve a range of breakfast burritos as well as more traditional cooked breakfasts alongside coffees and smoothies. With a Student Chiquitos card, you can also receive 25% discount on your bill. ¡Hurra!

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Eggs Bravos & A Veggie Breakfast Burrito

2. (tsp.), Piccadilly

Yes I know I go on about how much I love this cafe, but they’ve got the lighter breakfast covered and most importantly of all, quality coffee. (tsp.) offer lots of pastries, bagels and crumpets- even their toast is absolutely delicious, which I believe is from Live Love Loaf Bakery in Leek. Sitting in the cafe, particularly on a sunny morning, is the perfect way to ease yourself into the day…

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(tsp.)’s trusty coffee

3. Melice, Intu Potteries

If pancakes and crepes are your cup of tea, then this is the place to come. They serve both savoury and sweet options – I can wholeheartedly recommend the nutella, banana & chantilly cream pancake. Melice also have a good range of drinks and with so many different French pastries in their cabinet, I challenge you to visit without taking a Strawberry Tart or a Mille Feuille home for lunch…

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The banana, nutella & chantilly cream pancake

4. High Lane Oatcakes / London Road Oatcakes / Any reputable oatcake shop

It saddens me to think that the rest of the country don’t get to begin their day with some delicious & freshly-made filled oatcakes. Considering I’m a vegetarian, cheese & mushroom are my personal favourite but I know cheese & bacon is another cracking combination. I couldn’t possibly begin to comment on the best place to get your oatcakes, for it is a debate that will continue until the end of time, but High Lane Oatcakes and London Road Oatcakes are always a safe bet.

5. Bailey’s Tea Room, High Street

The first entry from Newcastle comes in the form of Bailey’s Tea room. Their breakfast menu features everything you would expect to find in a British tearoom, from a full English to eggs any way and toasted teacakes. Bailey’s scrambled eggs & smoked salmon is one of my favourites but I can’t deny I’m also partial to a toasted teacake.


Chiquito: http://www.chiquito.co.uk/

(tsp.) : https://www.facebook.com/tspcoffee/?fref=ts & Live Love Loaf Bakery http://www.liveloveloaf.net/ 

Melice: http://www.melice.co.uk/

Bailey’s Tea Room: http://www.baileystearoom.com/index.html

In the news: “The Sentinel’s 20 unbelievably cool shops and cafes in Hanley”

When people mention Hanley, admittedly I don’t often think ‘unbelievably cool.’ Usually, it’s pigeons and innumerable cigarette butts that first spring to mind., however, having given it some thought the city centre actually has a lot of quirky outlets on offer. The Sentinel recently published their list of the 20 “coolest” shops in Hanley, some of which I’ve already reviewed (like NOM and my all time favourite (tsp.)) and others which are now on my to-go-to list, like Blondie’s Twisted Tearoom.

Inspired by the above list, here are my own top 5 coolest businesses in Hanley (excluding (tsp.) of course, because I’ve blogged non-stop about them already…):

  1. Brassingtons, Picadilly.

Considering they’ve been a family business since 1901, it’s fair to say that Brassington’s should be seen as a Hanley institution by now. They are synonymous with quality shoes and the only place to buy Dr Martens. I had my first pair of Docs for Christmas from this shop & the chap serving me couldn’t have been more helpful. Even if you only pop in to admire the impressive Dr Martens display, you should definitely pay them a visit the next time you’re passing by.

2. Melice, intu Potteries

Melice is still a relatively new cafe on the scene but brilliant nonetheless. The best place in Hanley to tuck into a proper French crepe (possibly the only place in Hanley that serves French crepes?) and they also sell a variety of French pastries which are always displayed so nicely in their window. Undoubtedly, Melice is bringing a touch of class to the Potteries centre and the city’s food scene as a whole.

3. The Potteries Museum Gift Shop, Bethesda Street

This may seem like a weird addition to the list, but they stock a cracking range of Moorland Pottery’s “Stokie-Ware” along with other bits and pieces of Stoke Pottery, local history paraphernalia and postcards. Just as a side note, the actual museum and gallery is pretty cool too.. Even if you’re an avid museum-avoider, you’d be hard-pressed  not to be impressed at Stoke-on-Trent’s story.

4. Roberto’s Italian, Pall Mall

I love this restaurant. It’s like a little slice of of authentic Italy right in the middle of Stoke. Inside the unassuming building, Roberto’s serves delicious cuisine with friendly service. If I was to recommend a particular dish, it would have to be the calamari. I don’t know how they make it so fresh (seeing as we are absolutely nowhere near the sea!) but it’s fantastic. Best of all, they have very reasonable prices. Te Amo Robertos!

5. Webberley’s Bookshop, Percy Street

I know. It’s closed. I’m not over it yet, so this is an ode to perhaps Hanley’s coolest shop of all time. It’s range of books was second to none and I could spend entire afternoons browsing the art & stationary supplies upstairs. I’ll just make a quick plea to anyone reading this with a spare million lying around (is that unlikely?)… please buy the building and develop the concept scheme that an architect has drawn up! The building is too important to stand empty for too long…

webberleys

Webberley’s Ltd. (Image from: webberleys.net

 

It’s true that Hanley might have too many pigeons, but it’s also got some one-of-a kind eateries, cafes and shops. Perhaps it’s about time that they start springing to mind first…


 

The original Sentinel article: http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/20-unbelievably-cool-shops-cafes-Hanley/story-26514611-detail/story.html

Websites for: Brassingtons  http://www.brassingtons.co.uk/

Melice http://www.melice.co.uk/

The Potteries Museum http://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/visit/pmag/

Roberto’s http://www.robertopizzeria.com/

Webberley’s http://www.webberleys.net/#about

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/commercial-property-for-sale/property-55879574.html

SCATTERING KINDNESS: West End Methodist Church, Community Centre & Cafe

On the corner of London Road and James Street in the Boothen/Stoke/nearly Oakhill area of the city used to stand The West End Pub. Said pub is now unrecognisable as it has been transformed completely into a new church, along with a cafe and community centre. The congregations at Trent Vale Methodist church and Wesley Methodist Church sold their buildings and joined together a few years ago with the vision of finding a new site from which they could serve their community. After purchasing the derelict pub and a great deal of fundraising, building work & hard graft, they opened in January 2015 receiving a great response.

The West End Methodist Church

The West End Methodist Church

Since then, the Cafe West End has gone from strength to strength. To say the atmosphere is welcoming is a gross understatement; I really am confident that any kind of person could walk right in from London Road and be treated like an old friend. Unsurprisingly perhaps, as clearly this is what happens when you run a coffee shop to serve the needs of your community rather than to make a profit. While the cafe prices might be cheap (80p for a mug of tea, £2 cappuccinos & £2 bacon sandwiches) to ensure everyone can enjoy the food & drinks on offer, the quality is as top notch as any other outlet in the hospitality sector. The cappuccinos require a particularly special mention as Cafe West End will be joining tsp. Cafe, Hanley for winning the ‘excellent-coffee-without-the-funny-aftertaste’ award! An important accolade, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Cafe West End

Cafe West End

Nonetheless, meeting the needs of the neighbourhood goes far beyond the new swanky cafe for the congregation at West End which can be seen in the variety of projects and activities that are both already established and in the pipeline. Playhouse, a group for pre-schoolers and their parents & carers, provides a safe space for toddlers to play together and the potential for their carers to make new friends too. Similarly, ‘Family, Fun & Food’ offers a variety of activities and a hot meal for all ages to enjoy. In times when family life has become so hectic and chaotic, these kinds of occasions bring an opportunity for families to spend time together. There are also plans to establish a distribution centre for the Stoke-on-Trent Foodbank at the church, bringing the emergency supplies that foodbank gives a little bit closer to Stoke town, Boothen, Oakhill and other nearby areas whose nearest distribution centre currently is Temple Street, Fenton.

As you can see from the previous paragraphs, if there’s one thing that jumps out at you when visiting the West End it’s the overwhelming desire that exists to do good in the ‘hood. Every inch of space in the new building has been carefully planned and designed in order to achieve the most good possible for the most people possible and that is an incredible witness to the faith that this project was built on. So if you’re ever passing by or in the Stoke/Boothen/nearly Oakhill vicinity, I’m sure the folk at the West End would love to welcome you and share a cake!


The West End Methodist Church & cafe opening times: http://www.westendmethodistchurchstoke.org/ 

Stoke-on-Trent Foodbankhttp://stokeontrent.foodbank.org.uk/

REVIEW: The Emma Bridgewater factory cafe, Hanley

Don’t get me wrong, there is far more to the Emma Bridgewater Factory than just the cafe. You can book a factory tour or look around the gift & seconds shop and even decorate your own pot in their decorating studio. You can essentially make a whole day of it but the cafe itself is just so quirky that it deserves a post of its own.

The coffee shop can be found overlooking the factory courtyard, sandwiched between the gift shop and the seconds shop, which can be accessed via the front gates on Lichfield street or from the car park round the back. Through the doors of the cafe, the counter lies right in front of you with a mishmash of different tables and chairs to both the left and right. The decor is undoubtedly the first thing that catches your eye- there are trademark Emma Bridgewater spots everywhere! And everywhere is no exaggeration; the cupboards, the shelves, even a giant aga hasn’t escaped the paintbrush! The walls are covered with various prints, including EB designs and wartime posters – the whole room just screams homely.

Once you’ve chosen your table you can settle down with the menu, although I can almost guarantee that it’ll take 10 minutes to decide on what you’re having because you’ll still be looking around the room in awe. All the drinks are served in the iconic EB half pint mugs and are very reasonably priced. A filter coffee is just £1.70 and definitely some of the best in Stoke but there are still lattes and cappuccinos and hot chocolates available too. As for snacks, their toasted teacake is definitely my favourite, not least because they serve it with an overly generous hunk of butter but also because the teacakes themselves are enormous. Their oatcakes are also a good choice with a range of different fillings and the cafe might just be the prettiest place in the whole of Stoke-on-Trent to eat them.

Emma Bridgewater Pottery

Emma Bridgewater Pottery

The Emma Bridgewater afternoon tea is something else altogether. They pile sandwiches, cakes and scones with jam and clotted cream onto one of their patterned cake stands and serve it with tea or coffee for a minimum of two people but it would easily feed four! However, I can’t pretend that it’s not pretty steeply priced so it’s definitely more of an occasional treat than a regular order.

The Emma Bridgewater Afternoon Tea

The Emma Bridgewater Afternoon Tea

All things considered, the Emma Bridgewater Cafe has a lovely, cosy atmosphere and is the perfect place to while away a Saturday afternoon over a hot drink and an excellent slice of something. Be sure to pop in soon, preferably with a big group of friends so that you can nab one of the big kitchen tables and benches!


The Emma Bridgewater Factory: http://www.emmabridgewaterfactory.co.uk/

The Emma Bridgewater Cafe menuhttp://www.emmabridgewaterfactory.co.uk/i/content/cafe_menu.pdf 

REVIEW: tsp. cafe, Hanley

So having been at university in Birmingham since September, I’m not quite sure when tsp. first popped up, but since I’ve been back for the summer I’ve already visited a ridiculous number of times.

Tsp. Cafe, 84 Picadilly, Hanley

           Tsp. Cafe, 84 Piccadilly, Hanley

Tsp. can be found on the corner unit at the end of Piccadilly, Hanley, which makes it a great location for avoiding the crowds of shoppers that so often charge up and down Market Square. Its got lovely big windows that look out on the newly tarted-up area surrounding the Potteries Museum and so I’d say the window seats are the best seats in the house, especially on a sunny day with sunlight beaming in. The interior is small but the space is well used and the chairs & tables make it quite cosy.

Drinks-wise, I’ve tried all sorts and each one has been excellent. Their iced coffee on a hot day is a life saver and the strawberry milkshake is incredible, but I reckon the best beverage I’ve purchased was their cappuccino. I don’t know if it’s down to the coffee beans they use or their machine or even if they do a little dance before they serve it but it doesn’t have that terrible bitter aftertaste that so many other cappuccinos often have and so I’m delighted to have found it!

Cappuccino

                          Cappuccino

Strawberry milkshake

                   Strawberry milkshake

In terms of food, tsp’s cakes are on a whole new level. I, along with everyone else I’ve taken in, will publicly proclaim their brownie to be the BEST we’ve ever tasted. In the whole world. Ever. If you buy just one thing from this place then the brownie should be it, hands down. Needless to say, the other cupcakes and bakes that they serve (and they change daily- a list can often be found on their Instagram: @tspcoffee) are equally as fantastic, with the peanut butter and chocolate cupcake a personal favourite of mine and the jaffa cake cupcake next on my to-try list. They also appear to have breakfast, brunch & lunch covered with various snacks and sandwiches available but I am yet to give these a whirl; although if the quality of all their other products is anything to go by I imagine these are also delicious.

While food & drink quality is obviously one of the most important aspects of any cafe, perhaps my favourite aspect of tsp. is their participation in the suspended coffee scheme. The simplicity of this idea always astounds me and yet it can achieve so much good. Basically, when you’re buying your coffee in tsp, you can purchase an extra one for a stranger-in-need and they’ll keep it behind the coffee bar ready to give it out for free to anyone that needs it. That’s it. It’s genius! And to the best of my knowledge, tsp. are the only cafe in the city centre vicinity that take part in this scheme so let’s hope their example encourages other retailers to follow in their footsteps.

Overall, I’m continuing to find tsp.’s staff to be friendly & welcoming; a real ambiance is beginning to develop and while they are quite competitively priced, it’s worth every penny. I would thoroughly recommend stopping by the next time you’re in Hanley and perhaps even buying a suspended coffee too!


tsp. instagram: @tspcoffee

tsp. facebook: facebook.com/tspcoffee

tsp. & suspended coffees: http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/City-centre-caf-8217-s-buy-free-charitable-plan/story-26411735-detail/story.html 

for more information on the suspended coffee movement:  http://www.suspended-coffee.com/