Cheddar Corn Fritters And The Best French Toast Ever: Taste Testing Manchester's Favourite Aussie Brunches

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If you hear a Manchester resident using 'brunch' and 'best' together in a sentence, chances are they're talking about one of the city's finest Antipodean cafes: Federal. With over one million views to their name on TikTok, they're said to be the most popular brunch destination on social media in the UK. Having visited before, I can't say I'm surprised - but I was back this April to check whether their third city centre location at Circle Square on Oxford Road was just as good at their Northern Quarter and Deansgate venues. 

Federal Manchester Review | DesignMyNight

Is this walk-ins only brunch restaurant worth the wait?

One of the most-known things about Federal Cafe Bar Manchester? There's always a queue for tables - even at midday on a Tuesday. But staff are on-hand to welcome you, and we've never had to wait long or been told an inaccurate availability time on arrival. So even if you're not much of a planner, this place can still tick your boxes. At the Oxford Road branch, there are floor-to-ceiling windows letting in lots of light and high ceilings to top it off, creating an airy space that still feels cosy thanks to plenty of plants and a bustling atmosphere. It's a setting that definitely gets my seal of approval.

The Federal Manchester menu is what you'd expect from an Australian-inspired brunch cafe, with eggs, berries and avo as far as the eye can see. To accompany the food, there's hand-brewed seasonal, single origin coffee alongside everything from teas to Instagrammable iced numbers and beetroot or matcha lattes - plus cocktails on a two for £12 offer. We often nab the rotating specials here (think Biscoff white Russians and hazelnut espresso martinis) but this time we fancied going dry. Instead, in a very basic (but not entirely unexpected) turn of events, my partner and I both chose spiced chai lattes (£3.50 each) to begin, which can also be ordered in a 'dirty' version with an espresso shot for 40p extra. Warming but not overpowering with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and plenty of creaminess, it came at the perfect temperature to start sipping straight away while our meals were being rustled up.

Federal Manchester Menu Review | DesignMyNight

Just as delicious as they are Instagrammable.

While usually a savoury girl at brunch, I have to admit that Federal's French toast (£14) might be the only dish that'd ever bring me over to the dark side. This golden beauty is made up of perfectly fluffy thick-sliced bread that feels brioche-like in texture, while also being topped with macerated berries, a white chocolate and almond crumble, dollops of creamy whipped vanilla mascarpone and a salted caramel sauce. All that and it still manages to not be overly sweet? Jackpot.

Our second pick was just as famous as the first and satisfied my usual cravings: the cheddar corn fritters (£13.50; £15 with bacon; £18 with smoked salmon). Only available from 12pm, these were accompanied by two poached eggs and the most delicious sauce combo - sweet chilli and cucumber sop alongside lime sour cream. I devoured this tower eagerly, mopping up every last morsel. Although given Federal's commitment to sourcing ingredients from sustainable, ethical and independent farms or suppliers wherever possible, the eggs yolks were a bit lighter in colour than I'd expect. Nevertheless, these two hefty plates certainly delivered on their mantra of 'Get Fed' and I'd highly recommend going for a plonk-in-the-middle-and-share approach to make sure you get a taste of multiple dishes here.

The DesignMyNight Digest

Federal proves it's not just a pretty face time and again, taking that wild social media following and delivering food that really does taste just as great as it looks. While this popularity does translate to queueing for tables, brunch here is worth the wait - whether you're a savoury fiend or have a sweet tooth. I leave you with some parting advice and my ultimate top tip too: order through the QR code on their menus, since the corn fritters with chorizo option (£16.50) - which doesn't appear on the physical versions - is pretty unbeatable. 

 💰 The damage: Around £40 for two at brunch.

  📍  The location: Circle Square, Oxford Road M1 7FS.

  👌 Perfect for: A brunch that tastes brilliant and leaves you bursting at the seams.

 ⭐ Need to know: Their seasonal French toast specials are a must-order too. 


For our thoughts on the best boozy brunches, check out this guide. Then sign up to our Manchester newsletter and read all about latest as it breaks.