Discover Ormskirk EP.01: cafe MANDRAKE’S A Magical Experience

Edge Hill has a great campus but that wouldn’t stop you from looking for other gems in Ormskirk would it?

Good news for you! Today we’ll discover a haven for those fond of the peace, the quiet and the mystique: cafe MANDRAKE’S A Magical Experience.

Mandrakes is very easy to spot when you’re on the university’s free bus to town.
If you’re a Potterhead you definitely don’t want to miss out on this lovely cafe.

1. Few facts about Mandrakes

  • Address: 4 St Helens Rd, Ormskirk (L39 4QR)
  • Opening hours: Tue-Sat: 10am-4:30pm, Sun: 11am-5:00pm, Mon: closed.
  • Price range: £ 1.00-4.50 for drinks, £ 2.80-6.75 for breakfast and lunch, £ 9.50-16.50 for special Afternoon Tea. See full menu down below in section 4.

When was it opened? 9th August 2019

Why was it opened?

At first glance it is clear that Mandrakes is inspired by Harry Potter theme. However, the theme of the café is not just Harry Potter, the owners wanted to create a mystical atmosphere with different elements of magic, wizards and witches. This magical cafe is like a breath of fresh air the owners wanted to bring to Ormskirk, to attract more people into this lovely town, especially when there’s a huge amount of young people coming into town to study at Edge Hill.

The café has been more successful than they ever imagined. They had a soft opening (not much advertising other than the Facebook page) and it was totally packed, queues of people around the corner waiting to get in.

Current manager at Mandrakes is an Edge Hill graduate

We met with manager at Mandrakes, Lizzie, who is an Edge Hill graduate in English and loved her experience so much she progressed to study an MA (master of arts) which she has just finished and will be graduating in December.

Lizzie is a big Harry Potter fan and said the book was a major inspiration for her to pursue her studies in English, which is why it’s no surprise Harry Potter featured in her personal statement.

Staff at Mandrakes would love to be referred to as House Wizards and Witches. And their outfits truly depict that spirit. These wizards and witches though, are very warm, friendly and welcoming, so you needn’t worry at all.

2. How to get to Mandrake’s from Edge Hill

(If you already know, please skip to the next part. Though I think you may like to learn the bus schedule tip I’ll mention in paragraph 2 below)

Walk. (10 minute walk from Edge Hill). Out of Edge Hill’s main entrance just turn right and keep to that only road (called St Helens Road by the way) until you reach the first traffic light. Cross the road at the traffic light and walk for a little more you’ll see Mandrakes right on your left hand side.

Take the bus. You probably already know about the bus (which is run by the University and free for all students and staff) but I want to take this chance to tell you a tip I’ve just learned about the bus schedule (after over two months living here and taking the bus for like 100 times though🤣). Everybody can tell you the bus leaves every 20 minutes, but nobody seems to tell you: at what minute? …because with this cold weather and those winds, waiting for 15+ minutes at the bus stop isn’t a great idea (at least for me). So here’s the tip that saves lives (from the winter winds obviously): There are 3 stops – Edge Hill Main Entrance, Creative Edge, Ormskirk bus station Stand 5. Don’t mind the hour, just look at the minute: The bus leaves Main Entrance at minute 08, 28, 48, leaves Creative Edge at 13, 33, 53, leaves Ormskirk at 05, 25, 45. (So it starts from Ormskirk, after 3 minutes reaches Main Entrance, then moves to Creative Edge).

3. The space at Mandrakes

Reception

Harry Potter merchandise room

This is where you get to see and buy official Harry Potter merchandise. The fireplace is not to be missed!

Cafe area

The best part about the Cafe area isn’t just the space and the drinks, it’s DJ ‘Wand Apprentice’, a staff with special role at Mandrakes. While we’re enjoying our tea and drinks, DJ would come to our table and give us a demonstration of wands (replica) from Harry Potter. The way the demonstration works is: DJ takes the wands out from his box one by one, allow us time to admire the wand and guess which character it belongs to, while at the same time gives some hints to us, then in the end reveals answers and explanations.

We delighted in the guessing game he led us through, got to admire his patience and immense tolerance of us being not decent HP fans at all. (us: me and 2 staff from the International Office, Emma and Brad. Props to you Emma for being the best player, you truly saved our face by correctly guessing the wands of Harry, Hermione, Dumbledore and Voldemort.) We couldn’t guess Luna Lovegood’s despite all of DJ’s hints and efforts.

DJ really wowed us by how knowledgeable and articulate he was on the reasons behind the design of each of the wands.

Feels very cool to hold these wands in our hands after the guessing

“Experience Rooms”

Behind the café are the Experience rooms, very atmospheric and moody lighting. Fascinating thing here is you get to try on fabulous wizard cloaks. (with the help of lovely Lizzie)

  • Train Station “The Flying Mandrake 5672”
  • Wizards’ Meeting Room

I love this room, right from the moment you meet it, it feels like you’re not in the real world any more. Feels like you’re in a movie, or even better, a true magical room.

And of course, don’t forget a picture with Mandrake the magical tree.

4. What’s on the menu

Mandrakes’ Menu

Our orders and reviews

We (me and two staff from the International Office) had quite a fair share of items on the menu at Mandrakes: Festive Afternoon Tea (which we booked in advance on Mandrakes website), Mandrake Pudding Pot, and loaded Hot Chocolate.

I finally learned that Afternoon Tea in the UK doesn’t just mean “tea” at all, you’ve also got sandwiches and other savory (or sweet) additions as well. 😆

Festive Afternoon Tea, consisted of… (“Festive” because Christmas is coming~)

  • Selection of Sandwiches – Cheese & Cranberry & Turkey & Cranberry Sauce
  • Festive Scone with Clotted Cream & Jam
  • Mini Trifle
  • Crisps
  • Christmas Cake
  • Quality Street sweet

If you’re an international student who’s new to all of these food names, don’t hesitate to ask one of the friendly staff for an introduction to this very British tradition.

Mandrake Pudding Pot (Flower Pot containing Chocolate Cake, Mint Ice Cream, Cream, Chocolate Crumb)

Loaded Hot Chocolate with cream and marshmallows

Christmas Cracker: also another Christmas tradition which I’m not familiar with (since where I’m from, Vietnam, we don’t have this tradition, or not that I know of) but learned it today thanks to Brad and Emma!

Our Ratings – Brad gave a 5 out of 5 rating, praised the variety and believed a lot of effort and thought has gone into the afternoon tea choices. We all agreed the food was delicious.

SUMMARY

The best thing about Mandrakes for me is how warm and caring the staff are. Even if you know nothing about Harry Potter, or are all new to these magical wizardry concepts, don’t worry because the staff will walk you through all experience with great consideration.

Oh, did you notice the title of this blog? “EP.01”. And that means yes I will be having more “episodes” for the Discover Ormskirk series (hopefully I’m persistent and hardworking enough). Stay tuned!

In the meantime, definitely give Mandrakes cafe a visit! Don’t forget the Experience Rooms, and take loads of cool pictures for yourself and your friends there!

THANK YOU NOTE

Thank you Emma and Brad from the International Office for taking me to this lovely cafe, for your detailed notes, Emma and your beautiful photos, Brad that helped me write this blog.🧡

🚩Check out other cafes in Ormskirk reviewed by local Edge Hill student

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