Lunch break: Earth Cafe

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Earth Cafe qualifies as an institution in my book. It seems to have always been there, tucked below the Manchester Buddhist Centre in Turner Street and it never changes. It doesn’t need to.
As one of the only solely vegetarian establishments in the city, it holds a special place in many people’s hearts and satisfies a demand which is often left lacking elsewhere.
The style of service (DIY) is a bit baffling but the food is great and the welcome genuinely warm. There’s not many places where you’re thanked for going – and actually you believe them!
The menu is restricted to a few choices, offered canteen style at the counter on the way in. There’s always a daily special for value plus a good range of smoothies as well as a cabinet aching with substantial looking cakes.
I tried the autumn pie (pictured). A surprisngly light mixture of lentils, root vegetables under the crispest pastry lid I’ve savoured for a long while.
Himself was equally delighted with his vegetarian paella which was heaped with veg and stylishly seasoned.
Unable to resist the cake counter, we finished with the moistest, lightest, fruitiest carrot cake that I’ve ever had. No small claim for a carrot cake connoisseur such as me.
The style of Earth is very much a cafe and it doesn’t open in the evening. There’s always a peaceful backing track suitable for its Buddhist ethics which could prove fainly irritating or deeply relaxing depending on your frame of mind. See what I mean with this clip of the atmosphere.
It might not be the best place to attempt to clinch a high-powered business deal, but as an escape from the hustle and bustle and some wholesome nutrition, Earth can’t be beaten.
Style: Inexcusably a bit dippy hippy.
Cooking: Good home-cooked vegetarian fayre.
Plus: Tasty, hoenst ethical change from the norm.
Minus: Doesn’t open in the evening.
Value: Difficult to beat. £2-3 for a dish and generous portions.
Earth Cafe is at 16 – 20 Turner Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester. M4 1DZ. 0161 834 1996

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