well we can’t say we’re too surprised (especially after being fed items full of egg and dairy that were clearly marked as vegan on the menu), but mani’s on maple has decided to call it quits for good less than 3 months after moving to their new beverly hills location.
unaware of the closure, one quarrygirl.com reader wrote to mani’s customer service about their reduced hours. here’s the rude response she received from the restaurant:Tags: closed
UPDATE: please check out the official response that mani’s left in the comment section!
Back in the 90s, Elton used to invite me to his Academy Awards after-party at Maple Drive, one of LA’s trendiest restaurants. Situated on the lower floor of then-Hollywood hot studio Castle Rock Pictures, Maple Drive was a stunning exemplification of the excesses of Hollywood at that time. Over the years, though, Maple Drive fell into decline, and perhaps the final nail in the coffin was the death of its owner, actor Dudley Moore. The restaurant closed not long after he passed away.
The tremendous location on tree-lined Maple Drive in Beverly Hills remained boarded up for a while until one of our favorite vegan-friendly restaurants, Mani’s Bakery, took over the space recently and relocated their operations lock stock and barrel from the Fairfax district, naming the new location, fittingly, “Mani’s on Maple”.
We’ve raved about the old Mani’s location a number of times before and even mounted a campaign to get them more customers when the owner put a message on the website saying that they were in danger of closing. We dined there nearly every weekend, I’d drive across town for lunches with colleagues and we blogged and tweeted about it until we were blue in the face. The rest of the vegan community clearly did the same, and we were pleasantly surprised to find familiar vegan faces at Mani’s just about every time we visited.
Well, I’m sad to report that just like the former, storied Maple Drive Restaurant that plummeted out of fashion and into decline, Mani’s has done the exact same thing – at least as far as vegans are concerned. After all, our recent experience exposed non-vegan food served to us that wasn’t the usual kitchen mistake or hidden ingredient, but a complete breakdown of organization from the proprieter through to the serving staff. Read on to find out just how crappy Manis is for vegans.
You’d think me nuts for saying this just by looking at the menu. It’s full of vegan offerings: burgers, sandwiches and even a Banh Mi-style sandwich. There are seitan and tofu options for most things, and a reassuring “V” sign next to all the items that are allegedly vegan. Indeed, the menu even goes so far as to have a whole call-out about how vegan the vegan offerings are:
So, it was with a double dose of nostalgia that we hit up Mani’s on Maple for lunch this week. The space certainly reminded me of the old days, and I can still hear the echo of Elton’s distinctive laugh as he mingled through the crowd. Further familiarities included the friendly Mani’s staff, the beaming and bespectacled Mr. Larry Maiman (co-founder) buzzing around, the distinctive colorful menu sorted into tabs and large plates of delicious-looking food everywhere.
We settled into a comfortable booth on the back wall and ordered the Vegan Sliders and Vegan Banh Mi asking the server to check with the kitchen to ensure that the bread and all ingredients were vegan, and she promised she would.
A few minutes later, two wonderful-looking plates of food arrived. Again, we asked the server if everything was vegan and she said: “Yes, I asked the chef and everything here is 100% vegan”.
Well, we snapped some pictures and began to eat our lunch. Very quickly, we noticed that the bread had a very “buttery” texture and taste. Again, we asked if everything was vegan: “Yes, I checked with the chef. Everything is vegan.”.
We looked up the menu online, and noted that Mani’s serves by default “Brioche” bread (Wikipedia describes it thus: “Brioche is a highly enriched French bread, whose high egg and butter content give it a rich and tender crumb. It has a dark, golden, and flaky crust from an egg wash applied after proofing.”). Hardly vegan. I got up to find our server, and asked her to check again with the kitchen, while we stopped eating.
A few minutes later, Christopher Hopgood, the restaurant’s GM, came to our table to apologize in a highly funereal tone that the bread we’d eaten wasn’t in fact vegan but contained egg and butter as we had suspected. Not only that, he said that none of the buns are vegan and therefore neither of the dishes that say “vegan” which we ordered actually are. Indeed, he wasn’t sure if any of the breads are vegan, stating that they used honey in many of them and “well, the bakery isn’t really ready yet”. When we asked him how they could have made such a mistake, and he responded “We all proof-read the menu, and these vegan dishes are a mistake. We will take steps right away to correct this.”.
Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Hopgood was very polite and genuinely apologetic (especially as he had no idea that we had a vegan blog). He comped our lunch (no shit, considering we ate very little), and gave us a gift certificate which we’ll use one evening to go for a few drinks, as there’s no way I can trust the food at Mani’s ever again.
We asked FOUR times if the food was vegan, and only on the final pushy request did somebody actually bother to find out for sure. I believe that Mani’s is one of the sad breed of restaurants in LA that are cashing in on the “Vegan” word, slapping some ostensibly vegan ingredients into non-vegan items they already have on the menu, as well as not training their servers and kitchen staff apropriately.
Manis: if you can’t do vegan food properly then don’t do it at all.
Vegans: You might want to AVOID MANI’S.
Clearly, they’re not up-front about what’s in the food and the fact that we had to go through so much to get to the truth speaks volumes about the attitude they have not only about vegan customers but their clientele in general. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. And if you want to know why I don’t eat eggs? This report will give you some of the reasons.Tags: beverly hills, not vegan
in this week’s edition of the club club, we have a look at the vegan club sandwich from mani’s bakery on fairfax.
mani’s vegan club is pretty impressive: it’s massive with slabs of breaded seitan, tempeh bacon, and even vegan cheddar (even though the cheese they use is follow your heart, which i’m not a big fan of).
at $12, it’s definitely one of the more expensive clubs we’ve reviewed…but it definitely makes up for the hefty price with its hefty size. the thing is huge, basically the size of 2 sandwiches, and even comes with your choice of side. it’s pictured above with a kind of boring salad, but if you wanted to go all out, you could easily order it with steamed kale, french fries, or roasted potatoes.
what really sets mani’s club apart from the others is the crispy on the outside/chewy on the inside breaded seitan. it’s very fried chicken-y and super tasty. the fake meat in this thing may be better than the stuff in any other vegan clubs in los angeles. but for some reason though, i’m still leaning towards flore’s sandwich as the winner. maybe it’s the amazing bacon that flore uses, or the fact that mani’s uses FYH cheese.
either way, mani’s club is delicious, and definitely worth checking out. as usual, leave a comment on this post with your favorite club sandwich in LA…and i will be sure to throw it into the mix.
mani’s bakeryTags: club club, fairfax, sandwich
519 S. fairfax avenue
los angeles, ca 90036
so the economy sucks and lots of people are out of work. that’s a fact. businesses are closing, personal savings are being depleted, and the unemployment rate is skyrocketing. we all know and love people who have been laid off…maybe we even are those people in some cases. but wtf mate, the tragedy has officially now come home for all los angeles herbivores and started to affect local vegan/vegan-friendly restaurants. within 2 short months we saw the shutting of the vegan spot and of doomie’s home cookin’, arguably the best 2 places to get a meat-free sandwich in la. both closures were untimely and undeserved…so vegans, please, let’s go throw our moneys at some of the local restaurants that need our help, starting with mani’s bakery on fairfax.
the long-standing los angeles institution is nearly as old as i am, and is still being threatened by the crappy economic climate. in a recent plea on their blog (which i saw via eater la), mani’s tells its customers,“Unfortunately, we face the very real possibility of not making it through 2009, unless we can modify our business to function more efficiently in today’s environment.” they go on to add, “December was the weakest sales Mäni’s has ever had. At this level we will not be able to continue.” ummm…i dunno what you make of that, but to me that sounds like some fatal-apocalyptic-scary shit meaning, buy our food if you want us to be here in the morning. well, it worked on me. i hit up mani’s as soon as i read this, and i gotta say, i will feel pretty bad and dead inside if they do go out of business. their vegan food is really, really, really good. i’ve posted before about mani’s ENORMOUS VEGAN SELECTION…and let’s just say on this return visit, i was even more impressed.
i’m gonna work in reverse on this post because the dessert is the best thing that mani’s offers. the menu is absolutely huge, and all the vegan/veganizable items are clearly marked. almost everything can be made animal-free, and this is extremely handy when it comes to the desserts. vegan truffles, breakfast bars, almond rocas, cakes and pies are just some of the decadent treats that mani’s has in store. my husband and i split a chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookie on our last visit, and we could barely finish it. it was so rich and tasty, i think any vegetarian would be fooled by it.
but not just the dessert items at mani’s are awesome…there are also tons of vegan-friendly appetizers and entrees. on our recent visit and attempt to save mani’s from bankruptcy and decline, i ordered the pesto sandwich.
of course i got the vegan version (with tofu instead of meat) and everything was divine. the pesto was thick, oily, and slightly greasy in a really good way. the tofu was grilled but still soft in the middle, and it was all stacked with fresh vegetables on really soft and spongy bread.
my husband got the california club, which was also excellent. the sandwich came in neatly chopped pieces, all stacked high with vegan cheese, vegetables, crispy tempeh bacon and crunchy breaded seitan. there was nothing to complain about. i mean seriously, with the vegan spot and doomie’s both totally gone, i don’t know where else to obtain such a hearty and satisfying vegan sandwich in this town.
yeah, yeah, yeah, mani’s is a bit expensive. but so fucking what?!?! where isn’t at this point? it’s as good a deal as pure luck or m cafe, plus the menu is like 90x bigger. they also have the best vegan bakery and pastry selection in town. if they do shut, i know i will feel the same way as if a beloved relative has died—totally wracked with guilt, torturing myself over every lunchtime or coffee break i could have spent in mani’s company.
in my opinion, the vegan scene will suck a lot more hardcore if mani’s goes away. let’s ensure that doesn’t happen. please go eat there as soon as possible…um, it may be your last chance.
mani’s bakeryTags: club, cookie, dessert, fairfax, lunch, pesto, sandwiches, seitan, tofu
519 S. fairfax avenue
los angeles, ca 90036
mani’s bakery on fairfax is a must-visit for all vegans, as far as i’m concerned. i ran across mani’s awhile back when the bakery made an insane vegan cake for my co-worker’s birthday. i went to mani’s later to check it out and realized that their vegan menu was huge compared to other restaurants in town. i mean, they even have a full-on legend at the top of the menu for vegan and vegan-optional items. on top of that, the food is pretty damn good and they have great hours, plus they serve breakfast all day long. yay mani’s bakery!
my husband and i hit up mani’s recently and were pretty impressed with the food. one of the vegan-optional starters at mani’s is the bread basket. being a self-contained bakery and all, mani’s definitely has the bread thing down. our basket included an impressive selection of piping hot crunchy slices, soft and chewy rolls, and thin and crispy chips. the spreads were black bean, pesto, and hummus; and each one was rich, flavorful and creamy. between me and my husband, the bread basket was way too much food to finish, but that didn’t stop us from trying.
as a main, my husband ordered the vegan-optional arugula artichoke salad. while 14 bucks is definitely a lot to pay for a salad, this thing was pretty huge and they didn’t skimp on the tempeh. the artichoke hearts were shredded into delicate slices and marinated perfectly. the braised tempeh was amazing; why anyone would get this salad with the grilled chicken option is beyond me!
i took advantage of the fact all day breakfast and went for the tofu scramble hash. it was insanely delicious. the tofu was scrambled up in big thick chunks and was all mixed in in with the vegetables. the soft mushrooms, spinach and tofu went perfectly with the crispy, crunchy asparagus. i got the vegan option, which came with sliced tempeh rather than veggie bacon, and it was quite tasty. the breakfast potatoes were top notch as well. good stuff all the way around.
while the food is awesome at mani’s, it’s often crowded and dining in can be unpleasant. you will probably have to wait for a table, the restaurant is loud and cramped, and the chairs aren’t that comfortable. for the high prices, i would expect more of a dining experience rather than the quickie cafe feel that mani’s offers. fortunately for me, the food is just as delicious to go.
on a subsequent visit, my husband and i grabbed take-out from mani’s for dinner, and mine was every bit as tasty. i ordered breakfast again, but this time i got the wrap. the breakfast wrap is super because it’s pretty much the exact same tofu scramble as above, but it’s thrown in a tortilla with beans and guacamole. plus, it’s 3 bucks cheaper. score!
this time my husband ordered the classic sandwich, veganized with kale greens. it was good, but not as good as the salad he’d had in the restaurant.
i took a bite of the sandwich and thought the seitan was delicious, but my husband described it as “too chewy” and “glue-y.” maybe next time i will order it for meself!
so overall, mani’s bakery is definitely worth a visit. whether you dine in or take-out, the food will most likely be delicious. they have a massive menu with loads of vegan options, just remember to specify. plus, they have a whole freakin’ bakery with fresh bread and vegan desserts! cakes, cookies, even almond roca…they’ve got TONS of stuff to choose from. i’ve just always filled up on the tasty food, leaving no room for their tempting sweets. thankfully, there’s always next time!
mani’s bakeryTags: Add new tag, bakery, bread, breakfast, fairfax, kale, salad, sandwich, seitan, tofu scramble, wrap
519 S. fairfax avenue
los angeles, ca 90036