• Manna London: Savour the Flavour of Sunday Roast

    January 30th, 2011mr meanerlondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    As a boy growing up in England, my mother used to cook a Sunday Roast every week. It was always a big performance, with lots of ingredients, interminably long cooking time and a somewhat formal consumption ritual of sitting at the big table, usually reserved for guests. Sometimes, though, (when we could afford it) we’d go out for our meal and my memories are filled with those occasions: smiling restaurant staff, large plates of food and plenty of subdued light from the London skies.

    I also look back with sadness on the cruelty that was on my plate: the flesh we so fancifully fried was quickly relegated to a meatona-non gratis as I became vegetarian and then vegan. Indeed, I abandoned Sunday Roast many years ago in despair of such meaty plates all around me.

    Fast forward way too many years for me to remember, and I can gladly confirm that the Sunday Roast is back in my life with a vengeance – at Manna restaurant in Primrose Hill. In fact, special vegetarian Sunday menu items have been served at Manna since the 1960s, and more lately their Vegan Sunday Roast delivers a traditional, yet superior (and of course cruelty-free) offering that’s to die for.

    First, a situational analysis: London is a big city full of millions of people and Manna is a unique restaurant that offers an almost entirely vegan cuisine. So you have to call ahead and book to be on the safe side. Even then, the place can get a little busy but the staff are always on top of things and you’re very well taken care of.

    homemade organic bread (v)(org): a selection of breads fresh from our kitchen daily with extra virgin olive oil £3

    On our recent visit we were welcomed with big smile and seated promptly in a nice window seat before being given some bread with olive oil and vinegar to munch on while we perused the menu. Yeah, super high quality olive oil within which to dip wonderfully fresh bread is a winning combination. Were it not for the feast we knew awaited us we’d have said “yes, please!” when asked if we wanted any more of the bread that was natural, normal and kind.

    In honor of Sunday, we ordered a couple of Juniper Green Organic Gin and Tonics, which came with coriander and lime, all cold and tasty like. We were considering ordering a couple more, but had a whole day ahead of us, and didn’t want to get to far ahead of ourselves!

    juniper green organic gin and tonic: silver medal winning gin made with organic juniper and coriander, dry and aromatic, superb ₤5

    For our entrees, we ordered the Vegan Sunday Roast and the Organic Bangers and Mash to share. Before we talk about the money-shot Roast, let’s explore the former for no reason other than that it was absolutely stunning.

    organic bangers and mash (v): organic fennel and pumpkin seed sausages on a bed of parsnip & carrot mash served with cavalo nero on a red wine, leek & thyme jus ₤14

    Here’s a dish that defies the norm: Super-tasty organic vegan sausages on top of steamed spinach, on top of parsnip and carrot mashed potatoes would be fine enough, but they had to go and lay three huge, succulent onion rings on top of THAT for good measure. This was a hearty portion of food, with everything prepared just right – especially the red wine sauce that acted as a kind-of gravy. I tell you, until you’ve had that potato dish soaked in that gravy you haven’t lived! I give this 10 out of 10, and we murdered the entire dish with a smile.

    Now, it being Sunday and all, we had to get the Sunday Roast (pictured at the tip of the post). This dish varies week by week, so you’ll likely get something different than what we ordered, although we were told that this is a regular item. As the plate was brought to our table, we could smell the homely aroma fresh from the kitchen: An amazing macadamia-based nut roast wrapped in buttery pastry with creamy gravy and all the roast trimmings (potatoes, onions, broccoli).

    The entire dish was incredible: a smorgasbord of traditional roast flavors and textures with the most beautiful presentation I’ve seen for a long time. Oh, and yes, those leafy broccoli spears do taste as good as they look! Imagine, as well, biting into those tiny new potatoes – perfectly steamy on the inside and just a little tough and roasted on the outside. Amazing.

    The portion size was so large that we skipped dessert. In particular the tasty macadamia “meat” was very filling and tasty. It was clearly carved with a smile. Mine.

    The food at Manna is like the staff: Comforting, cheery and kind. You seriously can’t get a better vegan dining experience in London. Manna knows what they’re doing, the staff know how to make the experience special and the throngs of people and crowded restaurant (probably the only drawback!) prove that the system works.

    There are no animals crying here. Just happy patrons full of wonderful vegan goodness.

    4 Erskine Road
    Primrose Hill, London NW3 3AJ
    020 7722 8028
    dinner • tuesday – sunday
    6.30 – 10.30pm
    lunch • saturday & sunday
    noon – 3.00pm

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11 responses to “Manna London: Savour the Flavour of Sunday Roast” RSS icon

  • Damn, I wish you’d posted this writeup a few hours ago so I could be sitting here full of this food rather than sitting here about to book a table for next week!

    Too much vegan pizza day shenanigans I bet…

  • Although I find it hard to believe that Mr Meaner was ever a boy and he did not spring forth as a full grown snarky man, I find it easy to believe that this looks like some of the best brunch I have ever seen. I’m not typically a brunch-eating-kinda-girl since I really dislike anything with maple syrup (yes ever the real stuff from a gay-owned bed and breakfast in Vermont). A savory brunch on the other hand sound perfect. If only a hop across the pond were more affordable.

    Any chance they serve vegan Bloody Marys? So few places do and those fit in perfectly with my savory brunch fantasies. Although those gin and tonics look pretty amazing.

  • Sounds like a very lovely restaurant offering many scrumptious dishes! And I see on their website that they have various gluten-free options! Would love to dine there if we ever visit London again. Beautiful review!

  • i LOVE manna. it seems to get so many poor reviews (while saf is drowning in undeserved praise) but i have never had a bad time/meal there. the bangers and mash is SO good, and the puddings are amazing. the food is also a hit with carnivorous types.

    i also love smiths references.

  • I will be making a trip to Manna as soon as I get back to London next month. I can’t believe how good that sausage, spinach and onion ring stack looks. Damn, I love food!

  • After reading about the bangers and mash, I want to travel to London just to eat at Manna’s once again. We enjoyed the Thanksgiving feast at Manna’s and were unable to get back there to try another meal before we departed.

  • Gauri Radha गौरी राधा

    That looks lovely!!!

  • Best post ever. I love the London reviews, and this restaurant looks better than anywhere in LA. We have not one fancy vegan restaurant. Madeleine Bistro is amazing, but doesn’t count because of their location.

  • I love Manna! I went there 2 months ago because I read about them on this blog. I had no idea they did a Sunday brunch as well. I will make this a priority next time I’m in London. 🙂

  • I hate that I went here only once! But because of that one time, I concluded that Manna is my favorite restaurant I’ve ever been to. Everything about it perfect…from the beautiful walk to it’s location to the attentive service and finally to the food that looked and tasted wonderful.

  • Speaking of vegan bangers + mash… We recently launched Bangers & Smashed, a new line of specialty mashed potatoes in 16 renegade flavors, none of them plain. “Excellent for dinner parties and royal hangovers,” our menu is updated to showcase 4 new flavors each season, and always includes a nondairy/vegan option. On 1/30/11 we served vegan bangers + smashed at the Eagle Rock Brewery, paired with their wonderful microbrews, and are invited back for more pop-up events. In the meantime, we’re based in West Hollywood and can schedule pickup or delivery throughout greater L.A. So c’mon and get your bangers + mash fix! We look forward to serving you. Cheers!

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