I work in Manchester and often cut down Old Bank Street to get to Market Street, where most of the shops are but I had never set foot in Annie’s.
Annie’s is a delightful hidden gem in the heart of the city, just off the historic St Anne’s Square and located in the Royal Exchange building.
It is referred to as the cosiest corner of the city and from the outside, the lovely glass, black doors that give you a taster of the wonderful décor inside are just a glimpse of what you can expect when you get through the doors.
I admitted that I had often walked past on my lunch hour and offered my wrist for a quick slap for never going in before. They politely declined any violence but, after the time we had, and the food we tasted, I admit it, when I got outside, I slapped my wrist myself.
I have been missing out big time.
Annie’s opened 18 months ago and is owned and run by Coronation Street’s Jennie McAlpine, who plays Fizz Stape in the much loved soap and her partner, Chris Farr as well as her dad and an army of really friendly staff . It really is a family affair with Jennie having a hands on role at the restaurant as well as filming and cooking a little cake of her own (Jennie and Chris are expecting their first child later this year).
From the outside, Annie’s just looks like a tiny little space but looks can be deceiving and not only is there a large dining area on that floor but downstairs is yet more ambient seating and room for private dining and parties.
The décor is homely, yet stylish, with flocked wallpaper and velvet everywhere. There is a piano to compliment the live music the venue has on at weekends and beautiful stage curtains which may or may not be a nod to Jennie’s Thespian roots.
We were greeted by Jennie and led down the beautiful staircase to a cosy little corner.
Instantly at ease, it felt like I’d known Jennie for years and with such a homely environment, even Boo who was a bit shy at first, settled right in.
No sooner had we sat down and ordered drinks-the tea comes in beautiful china cups and saucers, than a plate of delicious looking Lancashire rarebit was set before us.
As a farmer’s wife, I really like it when businesses use locally sourced products and Annie’s is very passionate about that side of things-even down to the Lancashire hotpot which incidentally, came next.
They have really thought of everything though with doilies on the table, mood lighting in the form of table lamps everywhere and just a really relaxed atmosphere which can’t be forced-it’s a case of you either have it or you don’t and Annie’s has it.
Despite it being a busy lunch time and preparing for a busy evening ahead, head chef, owner and Jennie’s partner Chris came out to say hello to us. He is every but as friendly as Jennie and seemed genuinely pleased to see us-how lovely is that?
Afternoon tea was served complete with a selection of beautifully presented sandwiches and cakes and my personal favourite-scones.
Oh they were delicious. I craved scones when I was pregnant with Boo so I like to think of myself as a semi-scone expert. They came top of the list. Still slightly warm and served either plain or with raisins with clotted cream and home made jam.
That is another great plus point at Annie’s, they make all their own jams and chutneys as well as their baked goods and the rest of the things on the menu.
So here is the exciting news. You don’t even have to live near to Manchester now to sample the delights of Annie’s. They have launched an online shop so home made jams, chutneys, sweets, and….wait for it….cake can be ordered and delivered straight to your door.
We left Annie’s with full tummies and a bulging goodie bag filled with delicious samples of what you can expect from their online shop. The home made breakfast marmalade is my favourite so far but who knows, it will probably be home made pickle tomorrow.
I am so full of enthusiasm for the place. It really is amazing. It would be just as nice to have lunch, cocktails before a night out or a slap up meal-it is just so versatile a place. I am just sorry I didn’t go in sooner.
Not to worry, I will definitely be going back. Don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself.
Annie’s is situated at 5 Old Bank Street, Mancheter, M2 7PE. You can phone 0161 839 4423 to book or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*We were invited to Annie’s to sample their delicious new menu but all opinions are my own, especially my self-proclaimed scone-habit. Yes, you heard it first here. My name is Emma and I am a scone-a-holic.