After 5 months living in France, I have returned to the green pastured of the UK to visit family and friends. Yesterday, I went up to Manchester for a night to pop in on my university friends. I can never to the this great northern city without paying a visit to Sugar Junction to indulge in their delightful cakes.
Set in Manchester’s young and trendy Northern Quarter, Sugar Junction (SJ) is a warm and welcoming haven against the blistering winter cold outside. I first heard about this tearoom by way of chinese whispers of sorts. When visiting me at university, my mum met up with a friend of hers who also lived there and who took her to SJ for tea and cake, after which mum then took me (knowing that I cannot resist an afternoon tea treat!) Needless to say, I was hooked from day one and have been a regular customer ever since.
Today (feeling a little worse for wear after one too many tequila shots last night) I went in for a heavy-head-curing breaky before my train back home – and what a wonderful way to start the day it was. Christmas is in full swing at SJ – a tree sits twinkling in the corner, scented candles burn on every table, christmas songs play softly through the speakers and a new christmas menu for December is now available, boasting roast turkey and onion stuffing sandwiches, festive macaroons and boozy mince pies.
This morning, I opted for a hearty English breakfast SJ style – their Northern Quarter bacon and potato scones, served with Bury black pudding, a poached egg and a grilled tomato. I had imagined that a potato scone would be a pan-pried potato cake, but in fact it turned out to be a beautiful homemade hash brown. Buttery and fluffy on the inside with a crisp and golden crumbed outside: it was absolute perfection.
The locally sourced bacon was full of flavour and crispy on the edges and the egg was poached just right so that it oozed out when cut open.
I had never eaten black pudding before, always having been scared off from the idea of what goes into its making. However, being a Bury speciality (a town a short distance from Manchester) and a cherished delicacy amongst Northerners, I resolved to give it a go and I was pleasantly surprised. It was extremely tasty and well seasoned with pepper. It didn’t reflect my idea of what it would taste like from thinking about the ingredients used in the slightest. With a squeeze of brown sauce, the meal was complete. A hearty, well balanced and very tasty way to start the day.
Of course, I wasn’t going to leave without getting my hands on a slice of cake. I took a piece of their christmas brandy and mince pie cake to go, which I ate on the train to pass the time. The cake looked beautiful, I almost didn’t want the waitress to cut into it! Two thick layers of cinnamon sponge sandwiched together with a thick spreading of brandy-flavoured buttercream and decorated with spiced raisins and peel, edible glitter and pretty little stars: very festive! And SJ are not stingy on their slices!
Sugar Junction is a great place to go for afternoon tea – whether you go with a group of friends of venture there alone I highly recommend it. From baby shower and bridal parties, a fancy brunch, work dos, birthday treats, or simply a relaxing afternoon cuppa, SJ can meet your needs.
Still not convinced? Take a look at some more of their cakes from some of my many trips there..
Extremely moist chocolate and Guinness cake with cream cheese frosting – the dark stout gave a malty undertone that balanced out the richness of the chocolate, giving a deep and bold chocolate flavour, rather than sweet and sickly. The Guinness also gave a gorgeous glossy black colour to the sponge. SJ’s liquorice tea is recommended as the perfect accompaniment to this cake.
Victoria sandwich with fruity strawberry jam, vanilla buttercream and decorated with a french strawberry – a true classic.
Fluffy pancakes with beautifully pink stewed rhubarb and sweet vanilla custard. A great choice for both breakfast or an afternoon snack.
Indulgent and creamy caramel cheesecake with a dense, buttery biscuit base. Decadent and extremely more-ish – you won’t want to let anyone else have a bite!
Coffee and walnut cake, full of chunky walnut pieces and strong with coffee. Need a pick me up? This is the cake for you.
Apple and blackberry cake. A great bake for the autumn and bursting with fruity berries and soft apple pieces.
Carrot cake with juicy raisins and a cherry Bakewell slice, full of almond-y goodness.
SJ’s mugs are so delicate and beautifully painted, that I am sure it makes the tea taste better.
NQ bacon and potato cakes breakfast £6.95; slice of cake £3.50; cake platter £6.50; cream tea £6.75; traditional afternoon tea £15.50 per person; pot of tea for one £3.10; pot of tea for two £4.90 (choice of 25 different teas) (see menu on website for full pricing)
Sugar Junction, 60 Tib Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1LG
(Monday: 9:00-18:00, Tuesday-Saturday: 9:00-23:45, Sunday: 9:00-17:00)
T: 0161 839 1444