As long as the trams are down, north Manchester remains hard to reach. After a rare vehicular visit to Bury to pick up some pre-loved baby gear from a friend whose eeny weeny bundle of biddable has grown with terrifying speed into a bright, lively six-year-old, I twisted mum's driving arm and we sped down Bury New Road in search of a nice quaint lunch.
We didn't get it. In principle and in practice, I have always been a Slattery fan – I love the idea of an independent cake'n'choc emporium and took a fabulous chocolate course there a few years back – but I'm sad to report that, compared to how it was in its prime, the upstairs tea room falls short.
Away from the pretty art deco table lamps, which distract the eye momentarily, the walls are shabby and scuffed, and a yellow 'mind the wet floors' sign had been left beyond its usefulness on a bone-dry floor. Our drinks arrived after our food, there was nowhere to put mum's tea strainer (I KNOW, the hardship), the chocolate discs served with tea were bashed about. My plate was dirty round the edges and a glass and teapot bore the scars of a losing battle with the dishwasher.
We had bagels, mine an American job stuffed with pastrami, cheese, pickles and tomatoes. Nice idea, but it was soggy on the bottom, and someone had applied a massive gob of mayo to the hole, so that it oozed through as I bravely attempted to lift it to my mouth. Service was polite but lacklustre.
Like the Bettys cafes, the Slattery tea room is regarded by its many customers as a massive treat. It was packed and buzzing, and people were still waiting for a table as we left. Madness.