Regent’s Park Road suffers no shortage of dining options but Manna has been serving the health-conscious of Primrose Hill for almost 50 years, which inspires a certain confidence. Diners can choose between the pretty, fairy-lit interior or the two (ours slightly sticky) tables in the skinny glass-fronted conservatory. For starters, three cashew cheese balls with spicy dipping sauce were (though meagre) well textured and tasty, and floury tortilla with grilled vegetables was equally well executed; the knockout dish, however, was a delicious special of aubergine wraps with almond cheese.
While a fine idea, the ‘build your own’ mixed meze was disappointing: along with a ho-hum houmous, a small serving of black beans had no discernible seasoning. The chef’s custom-created five-course menu (minimum four people) is useful for those with dietary restrictions, and includes an aperitif and glass of house wine. Desserts – variously raw, gluten-free and vegan – include a ‘cake of the day’ from Manna’s organic bakery (think rich sugar-free fruit cake, or spiced carrot cake stuffed with pineapple and walnuts), along with ice-creams and tarts.
Service from polite, though occasionally distracted, staff was adequate but we came away thinking that, with prices not cheap and competition so fierce, it might be time for Manna to up its game.
4 ERSKINE ROAD
LUNCH SERVED NOON-3PM SAT, SUN. DINNER SERVED 6.30-10.15PM TUE-SUN
I have been doing a bit of a research, trying out different vegetarian restaurants in London and of course Manna was on my list.
My first impression walking in was that restaurant has a good homely feel and it’s almost like a community of likeminded people. We were welcomed by very friendly waitress and I immediately knew I will love this place. Menu is pretty straight forward, not to many options that could confuse you and make it hard to choose something. Which is great because when menu has lots of options, I am one of those people that just stares at menu for ages without reading anything and then ask waiter what they recommend.
All of the dishes are organic, healthy and delicious, so whatever you choose will be great. My friend got enchilada lasagne, which was slightly spicy and very tasty, while I ordered seasonal mash and gravy mash and it was great, even the presentation was seriously impressive.
If Manna was just any other restaurant, I’d probably have frowned a lot more at the idea of making my way from South East London to Primrose Hill, for a dinner priced at £10 and up. However, Manna is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant and once I stepped inside it and felt embraced by it’s simple yet homely decor and positive vibes, I could not wait to get my hands on the menu (and say hi to my friends, of course). A fantastic white wine and attentive service, my friends and I were very well taken care of.
For starters, we shared some raw maki rolls (yum!), courgette and corn fritters and raw tacos, all of which felt very fresh and healthy (apart from the fritters maybe). As some of my friends and I are on a budget – that’s London innit – I shared the Chef’s special with one of them, which I found to be the most delicious main course that arrived on the table. Creamy chestnut-risotto cake (crispy on the outside) in a fruity tomato sauce and garnished with rocket salad and bean sprouts. My oh-so-kind friends let me try the Lasagne, which was also delicious and the Green Curry, which was lovely, but could have done with a bit more salt, in my opinion.
For dessert, oh my, make sure to try the “potted peanut butter crème caramel”…the creaminess of the crème, the crunchiness of the roasted nuts and the freshness of the berries formed a heavenly trio of flavours. The berry cheesecake and raspberry ice cream, which I got to sample, were also more than edible!
All in all a wonderful experience, both for veggies and non-veggies alike, with the only downside being the price tag. I won’t be able to go there on a weekly basis, but I’ll sure be back!
Ps: When walking out, I saw the “Organic Bangers and Mash” arriving at someone else’s table: that’ll be my next order!