Tel: +44 (0)20 7722 8028
Address: 4 Erskine Road, Primrose Hill, NW3
Cuisine Type: vegetarian
Chalk Farm (NORTHERN)
Just round the corner from the tempting array of Greek, French and Italian dining options in Regent’s Park Road is a discreet little vegetarian restaurant called Manna. With a couple of tables outside and probably seating no more than 40 altogether, it has simple cream-painted panelled walls and pine tables with candles for when the lights are softened. Manna offers a range of modern fusion options for the vegetarian or vegan (options marked on the menu) but there’s also plenty to tempt even the most hardened carnivore having a night off.
A starter tempura of artichoke, asparagus and mangetout was quite delicious, served with a subtle spicy tomato mayonnaise; organic frittata of caramelised onion, potato and cherry tomato with apple and pear chutney might have been better served hot than cold, but was nevertheless tasty. Other options that tickled the fancy were green pea risotto balls stuffed with melted mozzarella, quesadillas – a folded tortilla with cheese, green pepper and jalapeno chilli. There’s also the option of starting with the Manna Meze – your choice of any three starters or salads. A nice thought. Home made bread is a little too worthy for my taste – the brown rolls with poppy seeds looked good but were awfully heavy, and would have benefited from a tad more salt.
Main courses are beautifully presented and definitely on the generous side. We opted for poppadum stacks – layered with potato, onion and coriander, roasted tomatoes and spinach (delicious and very filling) and Indonesian coconut and cumin pancakes with a broccoli curry and red onion salad. There’s also a pasta of the day chalked up on a board on our visit it also looked tempting (aubergine and red peppers).
Puddings are also varied – organic white chocolate and blackcurrant ice cream terrine sounded wonderful, and would probably have been a better bet than the organic fruit crumble (with either dairy or soya cream) which, like the bread, was a bit on the heavy side. Summer pudding was another possibility, served with a cranberry and vodka sorbet.
The wine list is short but interesting, including an excellent organic Pinot Grigio at £13.75 and a lovely English white – Sedlescombe Dry White Organic at £11.25 for a 50cl bottle. Our waiter was at pains to point out the size of the bottle when we ordered it – full marks. In fact the service was generally very pleasant and laid back, if a little slow. It transpired that the staff was one short that evening. That didn’t stop our waiter being responsive to our request for a reprise of the Pyramid Song – music having varied between the best of the old (Procul Harum, Byrds, Amen Corner) and the new (Radiohead’s Amnesiac). Prices are also fairly laid back for this neck of the woods, with starters ranging between £3.95 for the soup of the day with organic bread (see above) and £6.25, main courses at around £10 – £11 (£8.95 for pasta).
If you need to recharge the batteries with some good healthy food – and a relaxed, slightly alternative atmosphere give it a go. You can browse the menu at the restaurant’s website, www.manna-veg.com, and a take-away service is also available.