4 Erskine Road, Primrose Hill, London NW3 3AJ
After a slightly auspicious start – the waiter couldn’t find our booking – we were taken to a table and presented with the menu. After much umming and aahing, my companion and I settled on Basil & Cashew Cheese Croquettes and Savoury Basil Pancakes. Had we not agreed to share, our decision making would have taken much longer! I preferred the croquettes – the creamy filling was superb – but my companion favoured the pancakes, citing the fullness of flavour in the middle. We agreed that both were excellent and decent portion sizes for a starter.
We ordered some crispy marinated tofu instead of olives to nibble on while we sipped our wine. I’m a huge fan of tofu, but recognise it can be bland – this criticism could not be leveled at Manna’s tofu which has a great texture and the marinade is to die for (you’ll be glad to know that nothing did actually die as Manna is a fully vegan restaurant!).
After much discussion and debate – should we have the Broad Bean Polenta Feast, the Bangers and Mash or the Special (a Pea and Mint Risotto Cake with cashew cheese filling and summer greens)? – we both ordered the Special. This is where my love affair with Manna stumbled a bit. While the presentation was immaculate, the risotto cake was a little dry and the mint overpowered the other flavours. That said, the creamy cashew cheese filling was delicious and, overall, the dish was still lovely. I found my summer greens a little salty, but my companion added extra salt to hers. It was quite a heavy meal and the portions were generous.
Fullness aside, we soldiered on and got the desert menu. Again there were some great options – Banana Split with ice cream, toffee and chocolate sauces and whipped cream; Fruit Crumble; Lemon Cheesecake – but we decided to share a plate of Petit Fours. We definitely made the right choice; a small plate appeared with a gorgeous creation of four homemade biscuits, a scattering of truffles and some fresh berries and mint. Served alone I think the biscuits may have been a little dry, but they were the perfect accompaniment for the truffles, which were rich chocolaty heaven!
The meal, including a bottle of wine, came to £80 so not good for someone on a budget. But the food and presentation were excellent. It’s a charming restaurant on Primrose Hill, featuring some stunning wall paper. The clientele reflects the area and you can expect a slightly older crowd than in other vegan/veggie restaurants in London. Manna’s food is superb and I’d highly recommend it if you have a little more money to spend for a special occasion.
Review by Kat Heath