In Short: Manchester Press impresses in every way. From outstanding coffee, to health bowls, cheeky sandwiches and delightful bagel creations. If you go, try a filter coffee and pair it with the Soba.
There are venues that seem to try hard to fit in with latest trends whether it be fit-outs or imitating instagrammable food creations. All out pursuit for the wow factor aesthetically, then missing the mark in the eating can be deflating. Then there are others like Manchester Press which seem to exude class effortlessly. Hidden down Rankins Lane in Melbourne, you go to because you know of it, or have been referred for its quality.
There is no obvious signage from Little Bourke Street, nor shouting from the rooftops. It’s just there, and it’s buzzing. We popped by late in 2018 in the period after Christmas and it was full. In the days leading up to Christmas, 2019 we popped in mid afternoon, and yep, it was still filled to brim, even as Melbourne folk had begun migrating away for the holidays.
With multiple pour over setups, there is no mistaking that Manchester Press takes coffee seriously. It would have been a travesty to have visited and not tried a pour over. For a long time now, I have tended to opt for African single origin beans and shied away from foraying into the offerings from central America. Manchester Press changed all that. A Honduras sourced bean was an absolute delight. I enjoyed the natural sweetness, with a vague burst of acidity that escaped as quickly as it entered. Initial flavours of berries gives way to an almost caramel chocolate finish. A revelation? Yes, most certainly, and I am comforted that being an ONA coffee, I won’t have to travel far in Sydney to seek out again.
If the coffees were handsome, the food were the pretty partners at Manchester Press. My Chia Pudding was just a striking bowl of summer colours. Strawberries and raspberries, plump, juicy and sweet were sensational. I loved the chia soaked in coconut milk and its sweetness was tempered by the passionfruit coulis and fresh kiwi fruit.
A contrast to the colourful berry health bowls was a ridiculously good, yet monochromatic Soba. While the colours may have been more subdued, there was no let up in flavours. While salmon does have a dominating impact in terms of flavours, I loved how balanced this dish was. Smokiness from the salmon, combines well with the pickled ginger. There’s shimichi which is Japan’s answer to secret herbs and spices which deliver herbaceous punch with the egg. Soba sits at the bottom and benefits from percolation of flavours into the noodle. Cooked with a bit of bite, it makes for a sensational, yet light offering.
We arrived with high expectations and departed Manchester Press, mentally taking note to add this one to places to recommend for Melbourne. A relaxed space, friendly service, and the anonymity of being hidden down one of Melbourne’s many lanes, makes for a great quick coffee escape or a nice long afternoon treat.