David Adamson lets lunch just wash over him
What: Feel Good Club
Where: Hilton House, 26-28 Hilton St, M1 2EH
Food / Drink Type: coffee, brunch, lunch, cocktails and beers
When: Monday -Thursday: 9am-6pm // Friday and Saturday: 9am-9pm // Sunday: 10am-6pm
Independent or Chain: Independent
Much has changed since the days when this place was Shack - a sports bar I'd go to after City games and battle queues at the bar, cues at the tables, and a distinctly macho atmosphere.
If you still want the football near Port Street there's the Crown and Anchor, but here, now, is Feel Good Club.
Sparsely spaced and lightly decorated (bar the neon photo booth) it looks like the hippest IKEA cafe in the country and is decidedly Scandi in other aspects, mostly its approach to cafe culture. No frantic frappe-fuelled KPI meetings here. The whole ethos of Feel Good Club is in helping you to feel happy in yourself. In fact, the WIFI password is 'you are enough', which, of course, you are.
I went for lunch, and chose the eggs florentine on crumpets (£8.50), sacrilegiously adding bacon (+£3). If this doesn't make you even fleetingly happy then nothing will. The beautiful bacon was a slightly indulgent addition but just adds to the delight. The poached eggs were perfectly done, with the slightly runny yolk escaping from a cosy, daffodil yellow interior. The spinach, with notes of chilli, lets you think you're having a healthy lunch, but let's call it what it is. I think the modern phrase is 'self-care'.
Hollandaise is no simple feat, pregnant with the potential for all sorts of eggy mess. Instead this - made fresh daily - was creamy, sharp and chivy to the right degree. I don't have to tell you about the joy of a good muffin, so I'll just say they give you two of them.
With a pint of Brooklyn Lager accompanying it all, it's a brilliant remedy for whatever ails your tired mind, but you may want a nap after.
Slightly right-on cafes are now ubiquitous in the Northern Quarter, but some can deliver your food with a slight snootiness or even a dash of disdain. Feel Good Club is like a warm hug from someone you met an hour ago.
And when you think this same room used to abound with the sounds of clacking snooker balls, 'last chopper' levels of clambering to the bar and a vibe of vague menace, it's no bad thing that it's changed. In fact, it's good.
Feel Good Club, Hilton House, 26-28 Hilton St, M1 2EH
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Venues are rated against the best examples of their type. What we mean by this is a restaurant which aspires to be fine dining is measured against other fine dining restaurants, a mid-range restaurant against other mid-range restaurants, a pizzeria against other pizzerias, a teashop against other teashops, a KFC against the contents of your bin. You get the message.
Given the above, this is how we score: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: sigh and shake your head, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: nothing's that good is it?
Eggs florentine on crumpets 8.5
Very friendly and relaxed
Also very friendly and relaxed, as you'd expect