CLOSED: Cafe Ark

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 11 reviews )



adjacent to Mersey Valley Visitor Centre, Sale Water Park (at Rifle Road), Manchester, England, M33 2LX

Vegetarian cafe that caters also for vegans. All bread, soups, cakes, pizza are handmade at the cafe using as much fair traded and locally grown produce when available. The cafe overlooks the nature reserve. Accessible on foot from Chorlton via Jacksons Bridge or by car via the M60 junction 6, following signs for Trafford Water Sports Centre. Reported closed to HappyCow, Feb 2015.

Categories: Vegan-friendly, Lacto

11 Reviews

First Review by fire horse

An Oasis for Vegans - Edit

Cafe Ark really is the best part of the Sale Water Park visitor centre. It's warm and clean (we visited end October 2014) and the staff are kind and well informed. Service is good and the food fabulous. My friend had their soup of the day (leek and potato) and I had a slice of their gorgeous chocolate cake.

In addition to great vegan food, they also had San Pellegrino drinks which we both adore - in lemon, orange and blood orange flavours. To have such high quality soft drinks really added to the experience.

There were newspapers for people to read and the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly.

We'll definitely be going again (I hope we'll become regulars) and I can highly recommend. If you go, don't forget to buy cake to take away with you too ;)

Pros: Warm and clean, Staff very informative, Plenty of great vegan options

Cons: Hard to get to without a car, I think

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Lunch in a pretty setting - Edit

We visited the Café Ark today after reading the reviews written by our Happy cow friends.
It's just behind the visitor centre by the car park and is quite small but the team are really friendly and the food was great.
Stewart ordered the vegetarian breakfast and I had the Vegan version with 2 mugs of coffee....great choice.
We will definitely be visiting again and I bought 2 pieces of vegan cake too....just eaten the fruit cake which was lovely and looking forward to the ginger cake tomorrow :)

Pros: Friendly Team, Good Food

Cons: Small, Would be chilly in winter

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Food Lovely - Edit

I've eaten quite a few times here now and being vegan and living in Sale it's great. Eaten falafel meal a few times. However careful as coffee and tea was in a Bone China tea cup. The bread wrapper had to be checked to see if vegan-friendly as he wasn't sure but to cater for vegans is marvellous and so appreciated.

Pros: Nice Food, Friendly Staff, Eat In Or Eat Out

Cons: Not Advertised Enough, Bit Expensive For Small Lunch, Bone China Mugs

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Hidden Gem - Edit

We have been to Sale Water Park many times, when we bring my elderly parents for lunch at Deckers. No comment about Deckers on this site except to say it is my parents' choice. On this occasion we came by ourselves to kill time for an hour and instead of passing the very discreet sign for The Ark, decided to pay a visit for a coffee. The entrance is not obvious and didn't look too inviting so I sent my husband in on a recce. He came out with a smile on his face and said, 'You must come in and see this place. You won't believe it.' Inside was a light, clean, welcoming cafe with checked tablecloths and pleasant, fresh decor. The menu looked superb and we were sorry that we only had time for a coffee and a cake each. I'm a lapsed vegetarian, my husband is an omnivore who shies away from anything remotely green but even he was tempted. The coffee was hot and strong, just the way we like it and the fruit cake, a vegan recipe, was moist and delicious. The owner is a lovely lady and we felt like we were in her living room, chatting and having elevenses. It helped (us) that it was a wet day with not many customers, but we will be going back for a 'proper' meal when we have the time. We are only sorry that we haven't discovered this hidden gem sooner. June Williams

Pros: Extensive menu with childrens' portions., Clean tables, crockery and cutlery, Friendly staff, modest prices.

Cons: Poor entrance belies interior.

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Simple and good - Edit

This is a nice place to refresh after a stroll around Merseyside. A small and simple cafe, with friendly staff behind the counter who readily name the vegan options -- of which there were many on the day I visited. I had the soup of the day (mushroom & tarragon), with a freshly baked, still warm, compact and very tasty bread roll, and two pieces of cake (almond & cherry, ginger & fruits -- both yummy). The menu contained sandwiches, lasagne and other items which I can't remember. The interior is simple but clean. There aren't too many tables inside, so it might get crowded when many people are around -- but there's the outside seating area too, for warmer days. I enjoyed my stay and would have gone again if I had stayed in Manchester long enough.

Pros: Tasty food, vegan options, friendly staff

Cons: Limited opening times

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Small Modest Cafe - Edit

I've been a couple of times and think I was unlucky as both times were a little disappointing. The first I was given a sandwich in a stale bun. The second my cake had furry white spots that looked like mould although I was assured the cake was freshly baked the same day. It's a popular cafe so must be pleasing many people. Much as i want to like it, I found it a bit dirty (floors and tables). The outdoor seating is pleasant and the location is great for walkers, cyclists and it's family friendly.

Pros: Family Friendly, Outdoor Location

Cons: Stale Food, Dirty

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Great cakes - Edit

The Mersey Valley, south Manchester's very own slice of countryside. One thing it lacks is a destination. Being a linear route down one side or the other of the river, there is no destination to aim for. People either go to the riverside pub for good beer and mediocre food, or they go home.

If one were to walk an extra 5 minutes down the road from the pub, into Sale Water park, you'll be rewarded with Ark Cafe. A non nondescript building, just off the car park, is easy to miss.

They cater for walkers and wanderers, with teas, cakes and light lunches. They have a large selection of teas and several home made cakes.

We opted for halloumi pannini and various sandwiches. All of which were good. The kids liked the chocolate drink and cake. They were well catered for, as us grownups sat an chatted, with a number of kids books the cafe has.

One thing that blights the area is the M60 motorway, which runs near by. The noise from this can be intrusive at first, but you soon tune it out. This is not a criticism of the cafe, rather a 'feature' the entire Mersey Valley area.

If you have read this far, then I'll let you into a little secret, just for you foragers. Opposite Jacksons Boat is a disused and over grown orchard. In the autumn, when you are collecting blackberries you can get some nice sweet apples to go with them. But that's just our little secret, ok.

Pros: Home made produce, Location

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I'll be back - Edit

With only one day in Manchester I headed out here for lunch. It's in a beautiful location, serene and green. The staff were wonderful and warm, and very helpful. Unfortunately they didn't have that many Vegan option but they were happy to remove the halloumi from my burger. The fennel and sweet potato soup was too die for and they did have vegan cakes and sweets available. very reasonable price. A soup, burger and juice came to 10 pound. After my lunch they even called a cab for me and gentleman went outside to find it.
A very simple decor, not a gourmet spot but lovely and definitely somewhere i'd like to revisit.
Thanks for a lovely experience.

Pros: good food, big portions, wonderful friendly staff

Cons: out of the way, not many vegan options

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Find this hidden gem! - Edit

It's in the same triangular building as the Mersey Valley Visitors Centre, about 10 minutes walk from Jacksons Boat Pub, only about 25 minutes walk from Chorlton so well worth calling in on a Mersey walk.

Both my partner and I ate vegan there, cafe style menu such as soups and sandwiches. Own made bread and cakes including vegan. Good value, lovely service, quite quirky and offbeat in that great way so many indie veggie places are.
Updated from previous review on Saturday January 16, 2010

Pros: Nice offbeat atmosphere, Good food, nice service, not expensive

Cons: Not easily found if u dont know area

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Basic but delicious! - Edit

This cafe isn't much to look at, and their menu comprises such simple veggie fare as soup, paninis and sandwiches with the usual choices of roasted veg, hummus, olives and various cheese-related combinations. However...

I asked about vegan options and the lady behind the counter was only too obliging - even cooking my vegan (roasted veg and hummus) panini separately from my mum's, which contained cheese, so as not to contaminate it. The sandwich arrived with a pile of delicious salad - cucumber, cherry toms, peppers, olives,and another big dollop of hummus. The panini was yummy and substantial, I think someone mentioned home-made bread?! And the veggies were far more exciting than those usually found in a roasted veg selection.

Oh yes, and they give you big pots of tea rather than cups, AND they have vegan cake. All at very reasonable prices too.

Pros: vegan-friendly, good portions, delicious and excellent value

Cons: slightly chilly in winter

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Fab little place... - Edit

What a pleasant surprise when I saw the location...beautiful, amongst trees in a nature park setting.
The restaurant is simple, like being in someones farm kitchen. Down to earth atmosphere, clean, delicious food and the friendliest service.
Lots of books / interesting notice board to read while you drink your tea - various cakes including vegan carrot cake - overall, a delightful experience...
A main course of houlumi/ mushroom/tomato kebab with homemade brown bread, tzatziki and salad, 2 mugs of tea and a generous slice of cake came to £10... not bad at all.

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