On the corner of Deansgate is Fruit Exchange – the relatively new juice bar, that's been whipping up juices and smoothies, and freshly made sarnies for hungry Mancunians (and whoever else happens to be walking past that isn't a Manchester native, like me) these last ten months.
Call it a bar, call it a café, Fruit Exchange on Deansgate is arguably the better kind of juice-bar-meet-cafe in town. Having been to the other juice bar in the Arndale market, Fruit Exchange is undoubtedly better.
They're not that new, but the staff still have the enthusiasm of newbies. Tom Osbourne – the owners son – is a permanent behind the till, so he knows what he's talking about when you enquire about the benefits of the dubiously coloured juice you've just ordered. Pre-slurping feel free to peruse their other offerings; I am somewhat addicted to their frozen yoghurt.
At the moment they have lychee, raspberry and natural. I've tried all three, but natural has to be my favourite. They get the yoghurt from a dairy producer in Shrewsbury, so unlike many frozen yoghurt companies, this stuff is only a few miles south. Like most places, there's an array of fruit and sugary toppings, but try it plain, it's really quite delicious.
Although they're a juice bar, they're pretty laid back about the title. Tom said "we're a café-meets-juice bar because we make our own sandwiches; we sell cakes and pastries, and serve fresh juice blends." Although the menu is on the board, if you ask nicely the staff will let you add a carrot/apple/banana to your juice/smoothie free of charge (wa-hey).
When you're not in the mood for their healthy offerings, try their sugary goodies in the glass encased cake displays. The cakes are delivered on a daily basis, and while healthy is good, it's quite fun being a little bit naughty. Should the lure of the cakes be too strong, I advise you to give in. One slice of cake will not ruin the diet, and hey, you're in a juice bar, cake doesn't get much healthier than that.
If the pull of the iced cinnamon bun is too strong, then have it with a mug of herbal tea, or coffee. Honestly, their tea is pretty middle of the range, but it's because they focus on what they do best: juices, smoothies, sandwiches, and cakes.
Overall, Fruit Exchange is cheaper than what you might expect of a café of this standard. I parted with £2.95 for a 'regular' pot of froyo, you can add a single (45p), double (80p), or triple (£1.20) topping if you like though, and £1.70 for a small mug of strawberry and mango tea.
If you decide to visit during the week at lunch time, expect about a 5-minute wait because there's usually only two members of staff. Beware, there aren't any toilets on site, but they do let you use the staff toilets round the back, if you're desperate.
The success of this little cafe/bar is unsurprisingly really; the juices are refreshingly delicious and those in the surrounding offices seem to flock to Fruit Exchange like birds to a nest.