This was the fourth year that Zab and I have celebrated our anniversary at Manna, a vegan restaurant in the posh London neighbourhood of Primrose Hill.
This time, however, we also had the chance to celebrate our recent marriage.
One thing I like about Manna is how the location manages to feel both high-end and homely at the same time, which are not two kinds of usually distinct atmospheres that many places can balance very well.
The dining area is reasonably small, and tables are compact while not quite being squashed. On a Saturday evening (when we visited) this means it feels pretty full, but that gives it a buzz, rather than just seeming crowded. The staff are friendly and helpful but do not linger or interrupt conversations unnecessarily, and of course the food…well, it’s amazing.
While Manna does not advertise itself as a vegan restaurant, everything is in fact 100% vegan, as indicated on the bottom of the menu. One of the staff later confirmed for me that this marketing strategy is indeed intentional, so as not to scare non-vegans away!
Zab and I generally don’t do starters, so we dove right in to the mains. I had the Baja California plate (which is coincidentally also gluten free). This consisted of two grilled vegetable and chipotle tofu kebabs, black bean and green pepper taquitos, corn and cherry tomato salsa and green salad with soy sour cream.
The tofu kebab was surprisingly moist (I have found tofu to often be rather dry, perhaps the reason why I rarely buy it to cook myself) and though rather soft, the texture was a good facsimile of chicken. The taquitos were delightfully crunchy, and served on a pile of absolutely divine guacamole. I really enjoyed the variety and freshness of the dish: the perfect way to capture the last few days of London’s summer!
My husband, predictable as ever, had his usual: organic bangers and mash.
As a vegan version of a typically British dish, it consisted of fennel and pumpkin seed sausages on a bed of parsnip and carrot mash, served with kale and a gravy made from red wine, leek and thyme. It was exactly what he wanted, and he couldn’t have been happier afterwards!
Doing our duty as foodie bloggers, we of course sampled a dessert each. I went for the ice cream and cookie semi-freddo, which was layers of vanilla ice cream, chocolate ganache, homemade cookie pieces and chocolate chips, served with summer berries.
Though not exactly what I had been looking for (on previous visits, I had especially enjoyed the vegan sundaes made with heavenly mixtures of cashew cream and chocolate sauce), it was delicious. Really, it was the best option for someone unsure about whether to go for a cake or ice cream based dessert, as it was the two in one. I also think you could easily have served this to a non-vegan, and you would get absolutely no complaints, let alone any suspicion that it didn’t contain any dairy.
Zab, feeling the pull of the traditional, apparently, went for the sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream, which was rich, warm, and indeed as described, sticky!
We were properly full, though not uncomfortable, by the time we left, and didn’t regret a single mouthful of anything we’d eaten.
Manna is one of the few places in London I recommend to any vegan I meet who’s travelling to my hometown, and indeed I would recommend it to anyone (vegan or not) who is looking for somewhere a bit special to celebrate a special occasion or just treat themselves without going completely mad and breaking the bank.
I’m already looking forward to celebrating our tenth anniversary there next year!
- The meal described above for two people, including three drinks and 12.5% service charge that was added to the bill cost £63 (€80, US$103)
- Open: 12:00-15:00 (for lunch) and 18:30-22:00 (for dinner) Tuesday to Friday; 12:00-15:00 (for brunch) and 18:00-22:00 (for dinner) Saturday; 12:00-20:30 Sunday. Closed Mondays.
- Address: 4 Erskine Road, London, NW3 3AJ
- Telephone: +44 207 722 8028
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