Manchester Press is a classically 'Melbourne' new wave cafe for three main reasons: 1) it's all about coffee, 2) it has a coveted 'hidden laneway' location, and 3) it doesn't give a crap about any of that and just continues to be a kickass cafe. Sticking to a menu that isn't over-complex and consists mainly of bagels, a visit to Manchester will include at least one bagel, some kind of discourse with either the staff at the door or behind the coffee machine and anywhere up to three run-ins with people that you know — because everyone comes here.
Which is kind of the problem. Manchester Press is busy in the morning, packed out by 1pm with corporate lunch-breakers and is possibly the only CBD cafe that garners a line on Saturday and Sunday. But, turnover is fast — especially if you're flying solo or part of a twosome — and you get to hang out in an cool Melbourne laneway while you wait. So, it ain't all bad.
When you do get inside, you'll see plates piled with toppings of various colours and ratings on the superfood spectrum; it might not all seem familiar, but, don't be fooled, underneath lies a doughy, ring-shaped morsel. Basically it's all bagels here, with over ten options to painfully choose from. Ranging from $10 for simple toppings such as the nutella, banana and crushed hazelnuts combo to the more meaty 14-hour Vietnamese pulled pork at $15, the bagels cater for vegos, vegans, blue cheese enthusiasts and — more recently — the gluten free.
The menu does deviate from the golden beacons a few times with two salads, muesli and baked eggs getting a look in, but bagels are the main event and you probably will order one. Needless to say, they are best matched with an 8oz coffee (which is a great blend, despite not being widely used) and, possibly, a post-bagel praline brownie.
Further fulfilling its prophecy to be quintessentially Melbourne, Manchester Press has a roller door entry, industrial flooring, artwork on display and Aesop in the bathrooms. While it mirrors other cafe trends, the space remains unique — especially as a CBD venue. Manchester has always played it cool; when you do something well, you never have to try too hard to prove it.
Image: Visit Victoria.