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|Address:||4 Erskine Road, London NW3 3AJ|
|Tel:||020 7722 8028|
|Price: £42.00||Wine: £19.00||Champagne: £72.00|
|Opening Hours:||Tues-Sun 6.30-10.30pm Sat-Sun 12N-3pm|
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
On first impressions Manna comes across very much like a cosy neighbourhood local and based on most of the custom on the night we visited, it is. But there are hints of something a little more refined that comforted me in this out of the way visit. The menu provides ample choice of world cuisines and you get the feeling these dishes are going to be big and hearty with skillful cooking and presentation.
To put it into context; This isn’t claiming to be Michelin standard but neither is it a hippie start up. But this in-between status and the fact that Manna has been going for 40 or so years, does create confusion and is visible in the décor and service too. For example, it is a well designed and thoughtfully decorated venture, however service is slack to the point of pitiful regret.
After waiting 25 minutes for our drinks order we decided our wait had to come to an end and managed to flag down the hapless waiter to get our night going. The same waiter then went on to make a series of rookie mistakes; forgetting drinks, being incapable of remembering the two specials on the menu (throughout the night across all tables, no less!), not checking to see if all was ok once dishes were delivered, failing to deliver cutlery with dishes… I could go on but the I'd be doing the food injustice.
The dishes were luckily delivered in good time and went some way to make up for the above. Food was homely but with a touch of elegance and the stars of the night were the cleverly matched ingredients that went on to form seasonal and inspiring dishes. Starter of vegetable samosas and a hearty dish of fennel and pumpkin seed sausages served with spring mash, broccoli and red wine and thyme jus were perfect for a Sunday night meal. Fellow diners were equally impressed with their unusual yet winning combinations, including Tortellini with vegetables, green pea and coconut sauce.
In many ways Manna is a living example of the innovation and inspiration that can be found and is hoped for in vegetarian dishes across all restaurants. But annoyingly, the presence of the proverbial nut roast, contradicting interiors and haphazard service all create impressions of a minority cuisine. This is a shame, as I know for a fact it isn’t.