Tuesday, 25 August 2015

A Meal at Manna

Whilst killing time before a gig, (where the headline act’s set was way too late for my homebody, granny lifestyle) I had my first vegan dining experience, at London’s best established cruelty free restaurant, might I add. Manna can be found in a little nook in the chic depths Primose Hill and has been serving vegetarian and vegan eats since 1995. We swiped the last available table at 6:30pm, so it's definitely worth making a reservation here.

I’ve touched on the fact that I’m a tough customer when it comes to food at the best of times, but when meat is taken out of the equation my meal choices are seriously limited. However there were plenty of things to choose from on the menu, with dishes covering the majority of popular cuisines – Mexican, Thai, English, Italian, and Japanese. Whether you’re after raw salad or hearty meat substitutes Manna’s selection caters for all.
We got the party started with a falafel slider and a fruity pinot grigio. This may sound really boring but the highlight for the starter for me (bearing in mind I picked out most of the garnish) was the bread. It was super soft and fresh. The falafel itself was pretty run of the mill but enjoyable nonetheless.
When eating out I can get a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and food envy. For this reason, I’m a massive advocate of tapas or having a menagerie of starters/sides as a main. This can often work out quite pricey so I love that Manna include the option of having a choice of 4 sides for £14 and I went for the hummus and more bread as I enjoyed the roll so much, crispy tofu, onion rings and potato wedges.

The potato wedges were awesome – crispy on the outside whilst fluffy and soft on the inside. Not much to say about the hummus, it was like that which you buy in the shops, no problems there. I like my onion rings crunchy and crispy and Manna’s didn’t deliver on that front. They use tempura batter and were slightly undercooked. The tofu, albeit not crispy, was great for curbing meat cravings, it was juicy and filling.
Juan was slightly more adventurous than me and ordered the veatball pasta dish which came in a tomato sauce with olives. The portion size looks tiny but I assure you the bowl is deep and the oversized rim makes the food pile look smaller than it was. The sauce was rich and tangy and the ball/pasta/sauce ratio satisfying.

The service and atmosphere was lovely and the food and wine both good value for money. I would definitely recommend it to those transitioning to vegetarian/veganism and wanting to try eating out. I wasn’t blown away by my food choices but that’s the price I paid for playing it safe and potentially not a reflection of the restaurant as a whole. I’d love to go back and try something more varied and flavoursome, the cashew cheese that features in a number of dishes really caught my eye!

Have you been to Manna? What other vegan restaurants should I try?
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