It’s been a year since Federal Cafe set up its ‘coffee-shop turned bar’ in Manchester and the story thus far is one to admire. Having New Zealand and Australian influences fused together, in conception and living reality, Federal is making contemporary definitions that are somewhat unique to themselves. And that’s bold for a small cafe in the centre of Manchester city centre by periphery of the ever-trendy Northern Quarter and opposite Manchester Arndale.
With a compact menu that mirrors its compact wooden and yellow-y space, it’s almost like a café out of a North American 90’s paperback scene by Margaret Attwood. It’s warm, uniquely presented with dishes that are creatively spliced to give that edge to that morning meal before your interview or just lunchtime outing. It’s that place you just need to try if you’re in Manchester.
What immediately struck as TNT entered Federal was the large windows that allowed for the day’s vibrant natural light to flood in. Despite the café’s condensed size, the light gave it a purified, inviting and relaxed ambience – a perfect setting for breakfast.
For waiters and waitresses, knowing when to approach diners and knowing when to give them some space to eat, is a skill that involves mastery in hospitality and perceptiveness. Federal’s staff achieved the right balance of both these wings as our meal was off to a flying start.
First up from the menu was the Eggs Benedict dish (£6.50 – 7.50). It’s one of those dishes clean-eaters choose to feed their refined-dining regime. The succulent poached eggs laying on streaks of bacon and buttery kale atop toasted sourdough bread are a match made in the southern hemisphere where such mixtures are commonplace. The runny egg and crispy bacon combo brings a rich and creamy taste with each morsel that you immediately get why this works as both a breaky and lunch option. A suggestion for this dish would be to serve untoasted sourdough as the toasted version was rather stiff.
Federal’s smashed avocado, with two poached eggs on sourdough with smoked salmon is precisely for those wanting a well-rounded balanced choice. At £7.50, this dish can also come with streaky bacon or halloumi.
For a total detox, try Federal’s Matcha. For the uninitiated, Matcha is 100% antioxidant green tea – that’s a full detox without a visit to the doctor. This was arguably the best drink on the menu. Being one of a handful of establishments across Manchester serving up the Matcha, for a reasonable price of £4, this café is ticking all the right boxes in fortifying its niche presence.
If you’re familiar with Milo – a drink similar to hot chocolate minus the copious amounts of added sugar – you’ll be pleased to know Federal has this on their menu. This creamy, smooth and comforting warm drink is an experience. Initially produced in Australia around 1934, this drink is a medley of wheat, barley and rice.
We had the chance to try Federal’s homemade super healthy juice – avocado, ginger, kale, banana, lime, apple, coconut water and omega seeds. The thick and naturally warm soothing blended infusion instantly refreshes whilst heating up your throat. It’s a great accompaniment to any of the ‘All Day’ options on the cafe’s menu.
Owner of Federal, Claudio, told TNT how the cafe has managed to transfer the authenticity of Australia and New Zealand to Manchester. He stated, “Federal has all the things that you would find in a cafe in Melbourne or Sydney with all the healthy things on the menu, such as avocado and sourdough bread. The coffee roasters are from New Zealand and most of the coffee that we produce comes from there”.
Claudio added, “People’s favourite dish is the French toast”, and after tasting it, his comments hold weight. Its aroma is beguiling and sweet, so much so that it injected an air of festivity in the room. The tangy summer berries, rich vanilla mascarpone and heady salted caramel combined to give the dish an array of autumnal and wintery flavours, as the sprinkled almonds belatedly provided a marvelous crunch.
Explaining how Federal’s French toast differs from the original version of the breakfast favourite, Federal’s chef said, “We have our own version of French toast, which has an Aussie influence. Basically its brioche, sliced quite thick, pan fried with cinnamon, with a touch of orange, served with fresh berries and vanilla mascarpone”.
Overall, Federal is has firmly earned its place in the brunch café market and has ample pulling power to make brunch-lovers give in to their breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.
TNT Food Yasin Chinembiri