From queuing underneath a railway arch…to queuing inside their new bakery.
Been wanting to make a visit here since Pollen Bakery relocated to New Islington, from behind Piccadilly train station. Their humble beginnings started underneath one of the railway arches on Sheffield Street.
I remember queuing outside in the Manchester rain early one Saturday morning amongst other die-hard customers. Our efforts would be paid off…as soon as the freshly baked goodies came into view, our necks would be craning to see what would be on offer that day.
As they have now moved even further away than my home, it was an extra effort I had to make to get there. But today, following an early gym session, I wanted to eat somewhere that cooked good wholesome foods, and at the same time, somewhere I hadn’t been before.
I had noticed Shakshuka being a popular dish on brunch menus and had wanted to try it for a while. And recently a friend also recommended this dish to me at Pollen.
It was a nice walk away from the busy and noisy streets of Manchester city centre and into the new up and coming area of New Islington.
Its a lovely area by the canals with new developments and new eateries also popping up in the adjacent area of Ancoats.
As soon as I went inside Pollen, there was a hustle and bustle that I had expected on a Saturday afternoon. The seats were fairly full and some people in the queue made a move to bag some of the seats, in case there were none by the time they ordered.
There was only one queue and looked like it was the same queue for both takeaway and eating in. I wasn’t sure I was even going to get a seat but fortunately there was a spare next to someone. The seats are close together so it was a cosy affair, but there was enough space to still feel comfortable.
I waited for a long time for my main dish to arrive as there was a mix up. I was so hungry but I was careful not to eat too quick just so I could savour this dish! It was really delicious!
Cooked with peppers, tomatoes, onions with a hint of chilli that gave it a little warm kick to this chilly day. There was an option to have hummus or poached egg with it, and I chose the latter. Nicely teamed with Pollen’s famous home baked sourdough bread. And no wonder it’s so popular…the sourdough was so deliciously more-ish…! Crispy on the outside and as soft as a pillow on the inside! Was also so good to top it up with some of the pepper mix and then use it to mop up the bowl!
I also ordered coffee…they did not have soya latte so I ordered a latte with almond milk instead. This was definitely one of the best coffees I have had in Manchester! It was so smooth and creamy, I absolutely loved it! I ended up drinking this whilst waiting for my main and was seriously contemplating of getting another to have with my cake, but that would have meant getting in the queue again…and it was still as long as when I first went in and queued for 20mins.
I was so full after the main, I was half deciding whether to take my cake home. I was disappointed they did not have my favourite matcha madeleines on the counter, but I couldn’t go there and not have a sweet treat too! So I chose the peach and pistachio cake that was shaped like a muffin.
And so I proceeded to take a small bite to have a taste, and before I knew it I had another bite…and another….until it was all gone! The cake was soft, moist and not too dense. It was not too sweet so was very pleasant to eat after my main. There was a small peach filling and a topping of pistachios. I also found a cherry on top that was a nice unexpected surprise.
After my meal, I walked over to their loaf stand and had a look at what they had to offer. They had different types of loaves and also other miscellaneous items for sale.
Overall, a very enjoyable experience to my palate. The service was good, despite my wait. There was only one waitress and I thought she did an amazing job! She was very efficient, calm and helpful in the busy environment. By 1pm, a few seats had cleared and the queue had died down. I would probably try and avoid the peak times as it was less stressful, especially if you want to take a seat inside.
Prices are reasonable for the quality. Good location. Good food….and nearly forgot to mention the good toiletries in the bathroom!
I love a nice surprise when you walk into a bathroom and there is nice smelling, expensive hand soap and lotion. I was pleasantly surprised to find this Aesop soap contained small grains that was in fact a scrub…! It had a nice feel on my hands! That was definitely an extra point in my books…! Sometimes, it is the little things that count!
Pollen Bakery is definitely one to recommend. I love supporting local businesses and this is one that is worth your trip for. Amazing to see how they have grown in their business, expanding their ever changing menu and still be able to deliver the goods!
Written By: Selina Chan