Ellie-Jo tries giant toast and sticky toffee cookies at Gooey’s permanent caff
Every so often I like to go and work in Ducie Street Warehouse on a Saturday afternoon. Well, I say work, I mean open my laptop for an hour then have a Tommy's margarita and watch Gok Wan spin some Ibiza house classics.
I always say “I want to work in Ducie Street because I like the background disco and there’s a plug under every table”, but really it’s because I like to have a Gooey cookie within metres of my makeshift desk at all times.
Get there early, even if you think your pal is mad for suggesting you meet at 8:45am on a Sunday
Gooey also announced that they were opening a permanent brunch spot in the Northern Quarter a few months back, and we arrive at the shiny bakery and café on a drizzly Sunday morning after three failed attempts to get Glastonbury tickets. If you got some, you won, Jane. Enjoy the money, I hope it makes you happy.
My pal has been sat there from the moment the place opened, and after teasing her about her punctuality, we were quietly thankful that she’d gotten there in time to beat the queue of soggy, beanie-wearing couples that curled around the corner.
Get there early, even if you think your pal is mad for suggesting you meet at 8:45am on a Sunday.
Inside is all plants, exposed concrete, and neons - you know the Northern Quarter drill. And there’s a mixture of high window seats and central tables with red bistro-style seating. There are Keith Haring prints on the wall, and the glass exterior means you can see into the inner workings of the brunch machine from the outside. It’s clinical feeling, but artsy.
If you love a steel kitchen with loads of gadgets, it’s worth pressing your nose against the glass to observe the Willy Wonka-esque donut operations whilst you queue. The staff are more than happy to talk you through all the fillings and toppings too.
We order using a QR code on one of the high window seats, and a selection of coffees, kombuchas and sweet things come out before our brekkie in sharply. A smiley gal brings us some cutlery.
A glass of Laid Bear ginger kombucha makes me feel like Kourtney Kardashian for a brief moment, then I catch my reflection in the window and bite into a cookie the same size as my face and the illusion is shattered.
The white chocolate cookie is my regular Gooey order; a massive soft pillow of dough and slightly melted Milky Bar-style choc. However, my mates order a cinnamon roll and the sticky toffee cookie, and we split everything three ways.
The cinnamon roll could hold the door open for the hangry people queuing in the pissing rain, and there’s a slab of branded white chocolate on top to cement your chances of a sugar-induced heart attack.
My mate says she hasn’t had one like it since she stopped at a gas station on the highway in Miami for breakfast. It reminds me of the ones from Long Bois in Levenshulme, but on steroids.
Sharp and smooth cream-cheese icing cuts through the subtle spice of cinnamon and brown sugar in the dough, but this isn’t for the faint-hearted. It is sweet.
The sticky toffee cookie has shards of brittle honeycomb to counteract the oozing toffee in the centre. It’s all very Instagram food porn, and if you’re into slow-mo shots of things being torn in half, literally everything at Gooey fits the brief.
It’s also very apt that we’re here the day after bonfire night. The toffee cookie combines the nostalgic flavours of Parkin and fudge into one fist sized biscuit. A bucket of Yorkshire Tea would be a good shout with anything on the Gooey menu, and sure enough, its a staple on the menu. My flat white is now paling in comparison.
Then comes avocado toast, one of the famous egg sarnies, and French toast with a salty pool of butter and dulce de leche. Like I said earlier, Gooey isn’t for the faint hearted, or the diabetic.
The avocado toast is like an artist’s palette, a flat lay of yellows, greens, oranges and white. Slivers of pickled veg and a squeeze of lime make it fresh and zingy. A perfect soft boiled egg coats the whole thing in shiny savoury syrup, and crushed nuts and seeds add crunch. You couldn’t make it like this at home, and that’s always a sign of a good brekkie. I also don't have a toaster big enough for the A4 sized piece of bread that it all sits on.
The bread at Gooey is thicc, but it’s nice to see an alternative to sourdough that still feels substantial (easier on the jaw, too). The egg sandwich has a mixture of well seasoned egg mayonnaise, crispy shredded lettuce, and a perfectly soft boiled egg centrepiece. Gooey guarantees a great yolk.
This isn’t the kind of sandwich you can eat delicately though, you’ve got to get involved. Tilt your head, not the sandwich, and speaking from experience, don’t eat your cookie first. Everything here feels like something from Man vs Food, so vibrant that it looks genetically modified, and normal sized plates look tiny.
The French toast looks like one of those foam bricks you tumble onto at a gymnastics centre. It’s taller than my water glass. A massive, intimidating square of bread with enough caramelised milk in the centre to fill a pint glass. I have to take deep breaths between mouthfuls, and I’m thankful for every little grain of rock salt that’s sprinkled on top. I haven't had a real sugar rush since Halloween 2008, but I'm getting pretty close. It's too much.
I gaze over at my mates egg sarnie yearning for something savoury. I had eyes bigger than my belly with this french toast, and my sweet tooth can just about hack a Drumstick lolly, so this has me out for the count.
The food at Gooey makes you feel like Polly Pocket, or one of The Borrowers, so if value for money is coming into the equation, you could take half of everything home in a doggy bag and still feel like you've been defeated by sugar and bread. It's not your bog standard eggs and halloumi kinda brunch, and if you're into American-style stacks with glistening toppings, Gooey is the one. It's the kind of food they'd serve at a Disneyland 'meet-and-greet characters' breakfast.
The lady clearing the table laughs when I explain that I feel like I'm on vibrate after leaving half of my French toast, and she boxes up three doughnuts for my mate to take away with her. We walk out into the drizzle, doughnuts in hand and buzzing our tits off from dulce de leche.
Gooey Cafe, 103 High St, Manchester M4 1HQ
Follow Ellie-Jo on Instagram @elliejoj
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidentials and completely independent of any commercial relationship. They are a first-person account of one visit by one, knowledgeable restaurant reviewer and don't represent the company as a whole.
Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Cinnamon roll 8, egg sandwich 8, avocado toast 8, gooey french toast 7, white chocolate cookie 8, sticky toffee cookie 7
Smiley, quick, limited by the QR codes
Like an IKEA car park, but with neons