Perhaps going to a vegetarian restaurant in London run by a couple who spends half their time in the San Fernando Valley is not the best way to try the local cuisine, but hey, no one ever said native British food was good, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out.
Manna is a bit out of the way to get to if you don’t have a car. Will and I had to get off at a tube station a mile away and wander about a fair amount before finally locating the restaurant (after a helpful phone call). The restaurant is small, with an enclosed patio for extra seating. I would suggest making reservations for dinner since they seem to get full. Since we were late getting there, they had run out of the Sunday special, which was some sort of vegan roast or loaf.
I ordered their mezze platter, which let me choose three dishes off their appetizer section. Will got the vegan bangers and mash. For my platter, I chose fried ravioli, croquettes, and jerk tofu. Although the price of the platter was high (even for Euros), I was still impressed with how much food was given me. My favorite part were the croquettes, which were perfectly crispy on the outside, and hot and soft on the inside. I believe it was some sort of tofu filling. The fried ravioli was not bad either, with its walnut and mushroom pate filling. The jerk chicken, I found not to be spicy at all (why call it jerk if it’s not spicy?) and on the sweet side.
Will’s bangers and mash was a success because he cleared the full platter. The sweet potato and regular potato mash was flavorful and more exciting than a regular mash with only regular potatoes. The sausages were rich and had a real sausage flavor thanks to the generous use of fennel seeds. I liked the added touch of fried onion rings on top instead of the usual caramelized onions.
Is Manna a destination spot? If I hadn’t been on the trip with a vegetarian, I would say not. But after a few days of eating traditional British food, I was definitely craving some fresh vegetables. If the restaurant were in LA, I would compare it to the likes of Real Food Daily, only with slightly better food and way better drink options. I think the fact that I had a nice, dry, pear cider during my meal also made me think favorably about it.
4 Erskine Road, Primrose Hill, London NW3 3AJ
020 7722 8028 (ph/fax)