London is home to many long-standing vegetarian and vegan restaurants, some of which have been in business for more than 20 or 30 years. But Manna beats all others – it’s the oldest in the UK. This elegant Primrose Hill restaurant celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017.
A change in post-war living and the counter-movements of the 1960s led many people to adopt vegetarianism. Manna is credited as leading the way from early on by promoting healthy and sustainable eating through a vegetarian diet. Today, the restaurant follows an animal product-free philosophy, providing a menu that is entirely vegan.
The food at Manna is international and varied with lots of interesting starters and sides. Menu items are often seasonal and there are daily specials, but on the starters list you might come across a cannelloni bean slider, cashew cheese croquettes or vegetable tempura. There’s also a mixed mezze (a choice of three starters), salads and sharing plates.
For mains, you might find fennel and pumpkin seed bangers and mash, Thai curry, an enchilada bake and a pasta dish, to name a few. The pasta is served with Manna’s signature ‘veatballs’. Chef’s specials are available, as well as a ‘build your own meal’ – a selection of four sides served as a main. To follow, there’s a selection of decadent desserts made with cashew cheese and ‘vice’ cream. There’s a good selection of organic and vegan wines and beer in-house, as well soft drinks and spirits.
The restaurant is cosy but not crowded, with a comfortable number of tables and a small conservatory at the front. The dark wooden furniture is contrasted by the white walls and accentuated by candles and decorative ceiling lights. As the acoustics are good, it’s easy to keep conversation.
After half a century in business, Manna still has a unique offering and is as popular as ever – something that many of London’s new veggie and vegan places will aspire to.