Recently I had the honour and pleasure of joining owners Roger and Robin for supper at London’s oldest established vegan restaurant, manna, in Primrose Hill.
Introduced by a mutual friend, I sat, captivated hearing about the exhilarating background of this, very genuine, couple.
manna is an institution. It’s been serving vegetarian food to Londoners for 45 years. Any restaurant surviving that for that long must be admired, let alone a vegetarian restaurant in a country known for it’s appreciation of meat.
Roger and Robin became joint owners in 1995. Having run restaurants in LA (Robin was a private chef ‘back in the day’ also), they now live full time in London running manna. Passionate about veganism, it’s hard (even for a hardened carnivore like me) not to be seduced by their abundant enthusiasm. It helps that they’re such nice, honest, genuine people. There’s no pretension about them, and thankfully there’s none in their food either. Let’s face it, we were in there on a Wednesday night and it was packed to the rafters, so they’re clearly doing something right.
The menu is not as ‘nouveau’ and experimental as somewhere like Vanilla Black in the City, but if you’re vegetarian/vegan and want to dine with a carnivore without scaring the hell out of them at the thought of a vegan restaurant then manna is a very good option.
The atmosphere is very warm and friendly, which explains the inordinate amount of regulars they have visiting , including overseas visitors who return every year! It’s the perfect place for a date or a catch up with friends; intimate and personable.
We tried the Vietnamese Summer Rolls and the Summer Green Thali. I’d highly recommend the Thali. Now the weather’s getting a bit chilly it’s the perfect dish to warm you through, and I didn’t miss the meat one bit.
The inside track: Roger and Robin have exciting ambitions for the brand, so this is one to watch.