Pies and Principles: Topaz (Greater Manchester) & Roll for the Soul (Bristol)

Our choice of cafes and restaurants that put morals on the menu. This month we check out a veggie cafe that supports mental health work and a community cafe that’s literally rolling with the times

Topaz Cafe and Wellbeing Centre, Greater Manchester

Review by Bernadette Hyland

Located at the Mind Centre in Ashton-under-Lyne, one of the poorer boroughs of Greater Manchester, Topaz is an award-winning vegetarian cafe funded by the local authority and NHS Trust to support people with mental health problems.

According to chef Kevin Taylor, who trained at the famous veggie restaurant Cranks, Topaz is “an oasis for vegetarians in the north-east of Manchester, offering healthy food and the opportunity to break down the barriers between people who suffer from mental illness, and the local community.”

The average price of a meal is £5-£6, with provenance guaranteed: all of Topaz’s produce is sourced from their own allotments, from the local market and from Suma, the independent wholefood wholesaler.

Training is a key aspect of Topaz’s agenda, offering work experience to a range of volunteers, from people recovering from mental health problems to people who want to set up their own vegetarian cafe.

Expect a seasonal variety, from West African sweet potato soup to spicy stuffed tortillas with salad – not to mention a tempting range of cakes and crumbles.

Open Monday to Thursday, 10am-4pm and until 3pm on Friday.

216-218 Katherine Street, Ashton-Under-Lyne OL6 7AS

Roll For the Soul: Bristol’s Community Bike Cafe, Bristol

Review by Florence Layer

Before you walk (or cycle) onto Bristol’s iconic graffiti-sprawled Nelson Street, be sure to drop into the warm and welcoming hub of the local cycling community, Roll for the Soul.

A non-profit community interest company, Roll for the Soul celebrates and supports the cycling culture in the city. There’s an open workshop upstairs for all your bike’s needs and a great space below to grab something delicious, hearty and healthy from the all-vegetarian menu (there are multiple vegan options, too), making it an ideal pitstop for cycling enthusiasts or just those that want to tuck into something tasty.

Snuggled into some wonderfully comfy sofas at the back of the cafe, I enjoyed a very tasty carrot and coriander soup with garlic bread, followed by a deliciously sticky slab of homemade ginger cake. I was assured that the double-fried chips and ‘Ventoux Fuel: coffee with a kick’ was also a winner.

With friendly staff and loads of cycling opportunities advertised around the cafe, I left feeling warm, satisfied and full of buzzing enthusiasm to hop onto my bike and roll.

Open daily, including late night until 10pm Wednesday-Saturday.

Unit 2, St Lawrence House, Quay Street, Bristol BS1 2JL