I went recently to Mannion and Co with a friend who lives nearby in York. She said she could not recommend it highly enough. We queued up with about six others, shivering as the queue trailed out of the tiny shop premises and into the street. An icy wind was blowing and because the front door had been propped open, the draught blowing onto the diners in the interior was awful. The cafe is a former fruit and vegetable shop and it is really tiny, noisy and cramped. The manager provided us - the queue - with tiny white cups of something steaming hot and dark red in colour - "to help keep you warm while you are all waiting" - which was thoughtful of him and a very nice touch. It looked exactly like mulled wine. However, one taste confirmed it was not - although quite what it was remains a mystery, because it was hot but absolutely tasteless. It tasted exactly like hot water. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say it was a tiny cup of herbal tea, some sort of red fruit variety - but it had no flavour at all. A nice gesture, however. We arrived there about 2.45pm. I had had no lunch - in fact nothing but gallons of coffee all day, so I was rather hungry and wanted some lunch. My friend had had lunch so she simply ordered herbal tea. I ordered smoked salmon with scrambled eggs but did not want anything to drink, having just had so much coffee with friends elsewhere. The dish came with "toast", so I asked if I could have brown, whole wheat, granary or seeded brown bread and I was told they did not have any of the above, only white bread. "That's all we've got left" said the waitress, helpfully. I told her I really don't like white bread and that I never eat it. "You've no brown bread at all?" I asked. "Oh," she said, as if she had suddenly remembered "Yes, we do have onion bread." "Is that brown?" I asked. "Yes" she said, "Well - sort of." I ordered that. It turned out to be white bread with a scraping of onion in it. I got two or three enormous hunks of that, which they had tried (and failed) to toast, so they were huge, warmish, soggy-ish, tough-ish hunks of bread with enormously thick wedges of crust. I had specifically asked for the scrambled eggs to be cooked "very soft". I had emphasised that. What came, piled onto the soggy hunks of white bread, were giant hard chunks of egg, hardly recognisable as scrambled egg. In the scrambled egg was some sort of dried herb, which was full of hard, sharp stick-like bits, which I kept on having to remove from my mouth as I ate the scrambled egg, just like bones from a badly-filleted piece of fish! Someone had also ground copious amounts of roughly ground black pepper all over the egg. I never add black pepper to my food as it always catches in my throat and makes me choke. Nobody had bothered to ask whether I wanted my scrambled egg smothered in roughly ground black pepper and dried herbs with sharp little sticks - if they had, I would have declined both. The smoked salmon was the cheapest possible type - cut (not really sliced) into thick, greasy, salty wedges, many of which were too tough to chew and there were several bones embedded in the greasy, thick dark edges of the salmon. Not my idea of good smoked salmon, which should be thinly sliced, delicately smoked, not too salty or greasy and bone-free! I ate as much as I could face because I was very hungry, but soon I had to admit defeat. I went home hungry rather than face finishing food of that calibre. When I paid the bill it came to £10.50. Excluding the tip, of course. My smoked salmon and scrambled egg was £7.00. Not at all a bad price if the food had been decent and basically, edible. But I had had nothing to drink and all my friend had consumed was herbal tea. This means that the herbal tea at Mannion and Co costs £3.50. Probably the most expensive cup of tea in York! We left to brave the blizzard which had just sprung up and I could not help thinking as we trudged through the snow storm how much nicer it would have been if we had fortified ourselves against the elements with lunch in Betty's instead!
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