A dear old friend invited me along to her Birthday meal which was held at Manna Restaurant in Belsize Park. Had a little look online before we went and saw that it was a Vegan restaurant, now this did intrigue me.
We walked into the lovely little white restaurant down a side street near Chalk Farm and the smell’s we were met with were amazing. To start with we had a few manna meze platters down the middle of the table, which was a great idea because means you get to try a bit of everything.
These were cannelloni bean sliders, bite into the deceptive burgers knowing it won’t be meat but the taste was gorgeous. Then onto a few vegetable tempura, bean tacos and a spanikopita tart. The tart was lovely, moist spinach style with a crispy outside all vegan based!
Now my favourite dish of the sharing platter were the jalapeño cashew cheese croquettes. I am just fascinated to know how they make cashew cheese, the croquettes were crispy balls, filled with an inside which had a similar texture to feta but still fully vegan and gluten free!
We also had a huge plate of nacho especiales which were lovely especially with my new found favourite the cashew cheese.
Now onto the mains. This proved highly difficult to choose as they all sounded rather lovely, in the end Luci and I went halves on the ‘Chef’s special’ and the ‘Organic bangers and mash’.
I started with the bangers and mash which was a gigantic plate piled up high with what looked like traditional bangers and mash topped with onion rings. The mash was lovely and smooth made of parsnips and carrots, surrounded by a lovely red wine, leek and thyme jus. The sausages were made of fennel and pumpkin seeds, no idea how they achieved the wonderful texture that they had but they did. I’m not normally a fan of onion rings but these were crispy, light and not at all greasy (which normally puts me off).
Then it’s switcharoo time, onto the Chef’s special which was a risotto cake topped with the lovely cashew cheese and surrounded by rocket, tomatoes and olives. I can’t even begin to guess what was inside the risotto, but it tasted lovely and again went very well with the cashew cheese (although was probably a bit too much cheese on the top, even for me).
After a little breather the lights went down and a waitress appeared with a lovely raw chocolate hazelnut tart alight with candles! Holly’s favourite cake from Manna, which I am very glad for because meant I was introduced to this vegan, gluten free, sugar free, soya free and raw beauty topped with coconut ice cream and raspberry coulis.
I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone, vegan or non vegan. I still may not be cutting meat out of my life anytime soon but definitely shows how filling and lovely vegan food can be. I’m even determined to take Lawrence the meat man to Manna and see what he thinks!