Tucked away in an old, imposing building on Lever Street homes a spacious, eclectic and quirky bookshop and cafe called ‘Chapter One’. Open until 12am, it seems to have become refuge for those who want a quieter alternative to the nauseatingly busy Manchester nightlife.
I’d read reviews online about their vast choice of vegan cakes and plant milks on offer. Stuck for lunch options I decided today I’d pop along to see if it was worth the fuss.
Upon entering, tables bordered the edges, fairy lights twinkled against the shabby chic hybrid of industrial and minimalist décor. In the first open plan seating area was an impressive water fountain. A bit further along in the central area, a mezzanine level with comfy seating adorned with oversized cushions and a the modest coffee bar area sat just below it. The third open plan area just off from the coffee bar was a moodier room with more comfortable seating.
Creeping up to the menu board, I’d realised the extent of choice available to those with specific dietary requirements. Several vegan and gluten free options, plenty of plant milk along with the usual dairy. Staff were helpful in assisting with my indecisiveness and talked me through the vegan options available.
I decided upon a slice of vanilla chai cake and a coconut mylk flat white. Awkwardly, I shuffled across into the vastness of tiled floor and sat in a corner next to a bookshelf.
The slice of cake was huge but tasted gorgeous. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish it because it grew quite sickly. The coffee was brewed delicately as I couldn’t taste any bitterness.
Would I visit again? Of course. I’d probably bring a friend or a book with me though. It’s rare that you’re able to take advantage of the low ambient hum of a coffee shop, without the clattering of mugs and glasses you get in the other commercial chains.
It felt a bit disorientating walking in there for the first time, there’s a lot to take in. However, I found the staff comprehensive, pleasant and helpful which takes the edge off the feeling of being overwhelmed. I enjoyed the fact that it didn’t feel claustrophobic like some of the other independent, niche cafes and coffee shops. Definitely a place you would start to feel more comfortable being in the more often you visit and familiarise yourself with the space.