Bangers and Mash:
organic fennel and pumpkin seed sausages on a bed of parsnip & carrot mash served with cavalo nero on a red wine, leek & thyme jus
|It Ain't London Without 'Em!|
Let me first get two things out of the way and then I can move unto the food. When looking at happycow, Manna was at the top of my list. The special one even picked it out when she was looking at restaurants. Manna seems to be the premiere vegan spot.
Now, London is such a confusing place to navigate. Not only are the streets and building not labeled (like most of Europe), but asking for directions isn't that helpful because even Londoners seem confused about their city, at least the ones I asked. Because of this, a list of maybe 5 places, including a vegetarian bar, we only made it to Manna and another place called 222 Veggie Vegan for their lunch buffet, but without a camera so no review. (In short, it wasn't impressive, but the dinner menu looked more exciting). Just like Savuers we were close to the building, took a left instead of a right (thanks to a neighbor) and ended up near the park and lost in london. Well, not lost but not at our destination. We gave up that night and went to a hole in the wall indian place.Guess what? It was the some of the best indian food I've ever had. Perhaps it was karma I was tasting. Later that night under the glow of a computer screen, I memorized the streets and even made a map to make sure our next trip and last night in London would be a successful.
Jalapeño Cashew Cheese Croquettes
|With Ranch Dipping Sauce!|
As I mentioned, Manna was at the top of our list. Not only that but we worked hard to find it. When we finally made it, we were relieved. However the relief was short lived, the service was some of the worst I've ever had in my entire life. After seating us and taking our orders, the wait staff never came by, never refilled drinks and practically ignored us. So much so that it took an hour before even bringing us out check, despite people who came in after us getting their bill and leaving. I'm not sure if it was lingering resent for losing the revolutionary war. Or perhaps, the tip of 18% is automatically added to the check that the servers don't have to try very hard. Whatever the reason, it's sad because it distracts and maybe even sours from the food and what could be a wonderful, yet expensive, experience.
With the air clear, let's move on to the food. We started out with the appetizers. The special one went with the nachos and I went with the jalapeno cheese balls (or croquettes, if you're fancy). I had high hopes for the cheese balls, jalepeno and cheese sounded delightful. However, like most of the food, it was wonderfully presented, but lacked spice. The nachos came out and looked impressive, but again didn't seem very spiced. While I dispelled the rude Parisian myth, I can confirm that English food is kinda bland. It's as if the English haven't discovered their spice jar yet. If they did, (and the service improves), manna could be quite impressive. But who am I too judge? Perhaps, the english like it that way, but for a spice loving person I was a bit disappointed. I might have a plan to move to london and open up an awesome highly spiced restaurant and show the English how good food can be! Wanna back me on kickstarter and send me a visa?
We were left thinking that maybe we choose the wrong appetizers. The entrees would have more of a bite to them, at least the fajitas. I've never had bangers and mash before so I'm not sure what to expect, but for the uninitiated, it's sausage and mash potatoes and gravy. Manna served it up with onion ringers on the top. I was excited to try it, but to be honest it was bland even the gravy or jus. The fajitas would save us, right? How could you not spice Mexican food? The fajitas come out with guacamole and cilantro rice, but didn't have much to it. The cheese sauce was more like a cashew puree than a flavored cheese sauce.
Berry Cheese Cake and Chocolate Ice Cream
While the entrees and appetizers were a bit of a disappointment, the dessert was refreshing. The cheesecake had a great texture and had a nice, almost, but not quite berry fruit leather topping, which was a unique way to put the cheesecake together. The ice cream was also quite good, not on the level of the Berlin desserts, like Kopp's Semolina Balls, La Mano Verde's flamed at our table creme brulee, or caramel nougat cake from Lucky Leek, but we didn't know that yet.
manna's special spiked hot spicy apple drink
The drinks were another hit, kinda. We ordered the spiked version of their spiced hot drink. Made with cinnamon, oranges, lemons and cloves, this drink hit the spot, but we're pretty sure they forgot to spike it. The other drink was some kind of spiked ginger drink that doesn't appear to be on their menu. We didn't get to try any others because our servers forgot about us. Oh well.