Navigating our way through Manchester’s wind and rain to Sugar Junction, we arrived at a truly quaint vintage tearoom nestled in the heart of the trendy Northern Quarter’s Tibb Street. Stepping inside, you are transported back in time by the 50s decor, the swing music playing in the background and the peculiar accents dotted about the room.
The establishment’s recent facelift compliments its quirky interior; the monochrome colour scheme and lanterns fixed to the outside wall gives it a polished look. Its decor suggests a sort of antique elegance with classy silver lighting gracing an exposed brick wall, and trinkets such as an old gramophone posing poignantly about the place. The mismatch of objects and furniture – with cutlery purchased from antique shops – somehow perfectly forms a coherent vintage theme. The atmosphere is cosy yet stylish, with the gentle swing music enhancing this welcoming feel. The waitresses, dressed not in uniform but in vintage-inspired attire, are warm and friendly.
We began with drinks; a mason glass added a retro touch to a standard diet coke, while a peanut butter milkshake stood triumphantly before us, its consistency perfect and its flavour divine. Topped with chocolate powder and sugar granules with a dollop of peanut butter, the shake offered an impressive introduction to TNT’s Sugar Junction experience.
TNT ordered a breakfast of Eggs Florentine, which consisted of two poached eggs and lashings of spinach astride a toasted bun and coated in a wonderfully flavoursome hollandaise sauce. Toasted sunflower seeds and dried goji berries were scattered on top alongside a flourish of watercress. And from the sandwich menu we ordered a sandwich – two thick slices of granary bread that enveloped honey-glazed pear and goat’s cheese. The sandwich was served with a delicious homemade apple, cabbage and carrot coleslaw and a garnish of rocket and watercress. To accompany our meal, we ordered a side of sweet potato fries that boasted flavour and were not too greasy (as is so often the case). Each dish was beautifully presented; the sandwich appeared on a glossy wooden chopping board, whilst the fries were served in a vintage tin mug.
For dessert, we treated ourselves to a piece of each of the two cakes on offer. A delectable lemon and blueberry cake comprised a melt-in-the mouth sponge and a buttercream of flawless texture and flavour. A chocolate Guinness cake – one of the tearoom’s regulars – was not exactly show-stopping, but impressively resembled an actual pint of Guinness with its dark sponge and light-coloured icing. The Guinness detracted from the richness of the chocolate and sweetness was reintroduced by the cream-cheese frosting, which made for a perfectly balanced combination of flavours. To accompany the cake, TNT ordered a pot of ‘nuts about tea’, a Sri Lanken black tea with a marzipan aroma and infused with almond and vanilla extract. It was presented on a vintage China teacup and saucer, and the pot permitted three full cups of deliciously sweet tea.
Portions were sizeable and definitely warrant the pricing, which stands at around £6.00 for a breakfast or a sandwich such as we had and £3.50 for a slice of cake. Milkshakes cost £4.25, a pot of tea £2.80 and cold drinks average at £2.50. It is the impeccable quality of the food and service though that most justifies these prices. The inviting atmosphere created by the decor, the array of delicious cakes that greet you from the counter-top and the smiling faces of the waitresses all make for an exquisite experience. TNT departed happy, relaxed and most importantly, full to the brim with fantastic food.