Manna V (Primrose Hill, London)

With ever decreasing standards of vegan food in central London; I've started exploring into the outer reaches of Zone 2. Despite the lack of tube station (a walk from Chalf Farm or £10 taxi from Marylebone) I'm pleased to say that Manna Vegetarian in Primrose Hill is well worth the effort.

Having visited alone after work one day a month ago I was impressed enough to drive back down with @cherrivalentine today for Sunday lunch. Though relatively close to Marylebone (where I often catch trains to/from on weekdays), it's not open at lunch times and is just a little too far for grabbing food from in a hurry. A shame too; it's far, far nicer than anything in Zone 1.

I was particularly impressed by their ravioli, which despite being more pastry than pasta like is the best I've tasted.

Today we started off our meal with a Meze to share - a selection of 3 starters for £20 (usually £24):
basil & cashew cheese croquettes (v)(n)(gf option) £8
served on a bed of watercress & pea sprouts with our homemade chilli jam

ravioli (v)(n) £8
a crisped ravioli filled with wild mushroom & walnut pâté with fennel cream sauce, sundried tomato pesto & balsamic reduction - also available as a full pasta main dish

raw maki rolls (v)(gf) £8
raw 'riced' parsnip, carrots beetroot and avocado, served with tamari, pickled ginger and wasabi pea coulis
The Ravioli looks more like Jamaican patties than ravioli and the pasta unlike any I've tried before, but the overall effect is seriously good! With the filling, sauce and rocket this is my favourite thing they do. Worth noting however - despite being told that each of the 3 starters are full portion on the Meze platter - there was two ravioli this time not three. Therefore it's possibly more cost effective to order 3 starters (if you want 3 starters!).

Considering they're raw; the nori rolls are extremely impressive. I've tasted better rice based ones before, but change is good. The wasabi dip was good too - definitely wasabi but sweeter and ever so slightly less potent.

The croquettes looked like Terre a Terre's corn cakes, but taste a lot nicer. Manna's homemade cheese is possibly better than Saf's!

@cherrivalentine went for the Sunday roast for mains; I went for the sausage and mash:
cashew roast (v)
high protein roast recipe served with a balancing rich, homemade gravy and seasonal, freshly selected roasted potatoes & lightly cooked root & green leaf or sprouted vegetables

organic bangers and mash (v) £14
organic fennel and pumpkin seed sausages on a bed of parsnip & carrot mas h served with cavalo nero on a red wine, leek & thyme jus
Manna certainly can't be accused of small portion sizes! Between us we couldn't finish it. The roast itself was seriously good though, the veg so so. The jus was a little too rich, but I'm picking. We'd order it again, but have one less starter :)

The bangers and mash score 10/10 for presentation! Taste wise they were more a 6/10 - on a par with those from the nearly identical dish from The Warehouse in Birmingham. It's good to try new sausage flavours and definite effort had gone into the mash. For me there was too much kale, not enough gravy and too much oil on the onion rings. Next time I'm trying something different.

Last time I had their enchilada casserole, which tasted great but was just a little too stodgy. I took a photo on my iphone, but it isn't good enough to post ;)

Completely stuffed; we shared a pudding between us:
mexican chili chocolate cake (v) £8
served with avacado chocolate ganache, tequila lime sorbet raspberry coulis & grenadine coulis
It took 20 minutes to come and was the least impressive of the dishes. The cake was pretty average - the ganache just a thin layer. Overall the flavours didn't fight each other, but it wasn't a marriage made in heaven.

Last time (again the pic looks crap) I went for their banoffee sundae. It was huge and looked fantastic! Flavour wise it was pretty decent - I'm still waiting for a restaurant to serve an actual banoffee pie though (then I'll be impressed!).

Manna has room for improvement, but its already entered my top 5 favourite restaurants in London (possibly my top 10 worldwide). It's great to find another place that makes its own vegan cheese, with good atmosphere and more exciting menu than standard cafe offering.

It's almost Terre a Terre standard, but more experimental and with much better vegan choice.

I'll be returning many times.


  1. Anonymous said...:

    I think Manna starters are stunning. After having a starter for my main course I get the one where you choose several starters. Dining with people who have a regular main course I have seldom been jealous and wish I'd had what they were having instead! The ravioli is a stand out dish (I believe you can have it as a main if you wish) and their cheesecakes are very good too.

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