Once I’d tried to get in here after noticing it up on a small row in the Northern Quarter but I was late due to having to wash off some custard from a leaky doughnut. Not so on this humid, sticky day so I had a butcher’s as I’d been procaffienating all morning and was in desperate need of runny hot brown stuff.
I was told that the kitchen was not ‘working’ as soon as I entered by a teenager from behind the green coffee machine. This is fine though as she, as many do, assume I want a banquet as soon as I enter any premises that so much as offers a Polo mint. Starting a dreaded FODMAP diet that day, I could not really indulge anyway and eschewed the forelorn looking banana bread on the counter for fear of breaking my diet on day one.
I was seated but noticed it wasn’t exactly air-con central in here. ‘We really ought to have a fridge for these’ gabbled a wide-eyed, pleasant waitress as she grabbed a can of Karma Cola from a group of metal crates next to my seat. I laughed but couldn’t help but agree as I was now sweating at the back of the gaff and felt a bit like I was in sitting in a cafe in Rangoon.
Ranged behind me were wooden benches which weren’t too uncomfy and a row of wobbly marked formica tables some of which bore loose screws – as if someone has been to buy cafe furniture in 2007 from Ikea and couldn’t be arsed to finish the job. There was a higher bench table and a larger one near the counter which seemed a better place to get some air but these were occupied by a couple of studious, bookish types and formed the only other punters at this time. It wasn’t exactly bouncing in here.
A man entered looking a bit like Richard Osman – you know someone that really should be auditioning for the Addams Family. He looked around and decided he fancied going elsewhere, presumably to visit his Uncle Fester.
Blues music played at a good vol but the open door meant Billy Holliday was drowned by refuse vehicles. For some that was an improvement but I was glad of the breeze and even the accompanying flies and dust-cart dust.
Skirting boards looked like they have not been painted for many years along with the rest of the place. Even the tap water glasses were scratched but I still tried a glug of the Mancunian Hard Water (2022 vintage). There was a couple of trendy lights and a little art work (purchased circa 1997) and the toilet looked like ten children had just had a water fight before getting bored and blocking it up with Andrex.
I noticed a magazine called ‘Crack’ with a black guy on the cover – presumably for rappers or those into Urban Music but did not stop to peruse the pages. I realised the music playing at that moment was a drum track with a bit of bass and someone continually saying ‘yeah yeah’ and so that explained it. However the music was very black for such a white cafe (clientele and walls) and yet it seemed there was as much chance of me seeing a black man in here as I have of being called ‘underweight’. More Terry and June urban than Ne-Yo and Flo Rida.
The coffee cups are weird. Embossed with ‘NTP’ (about 10 years ago by the look of them) it was hard to get even a small child’s pinky through the minute handle seemingly made for one of the Borrowers. My White Americano was Geoff Capes strong and resembled a cross between tarmac and bovril. I chucked in plenty of milk from the mini-bottle and a sugar. Bit better which is a bit better than a bit bitter.
Getting on the Wifi was easy, quick and worked and they checked to see if I could get on. Mind you it wasn’t exactly the Shibuya Crossing in here and with the kitchen closed, they didn’t have much else to do other than nod their heads to DJ Dogshite or whatever tut they were playing.
Shortly, a third member of staff arrived but there was only me and a studious girl so short sighted she looked like she was trying to climb into her MacBook.
When the owners were deciding on a title for this gaff, they presumably were fans of the band British Sea Power and were inspired by the name. Like the Royal Navy, this cafe has seen more glorious days and may soon hit rough waters if they don’t improve.
Many years ago at school, my physics teacher wrote ‘MTH’ on my exercise book. I asked him what it meant and he said ‘Must Try Harder’. Not sure what he meant exactly as I got 10/10 for that exercise but he was from Sheffield. Anyway my point is that NTP you MTH!
Good: One waitress was friendly. Wifi
Bad: Needs TLC, no cold drinks, cups, tables, music not great