Regent’s Park Road suffers no shortage of dining options but Manna has been serving the health-conscious of Primrose Hill for almost 50 years, which inspires a certain confidence. Diners can choose between the pretty, fairy-lit interior or the two (ours slightly sticky) tables in the skinny glass-fronted conservatory. For starters, three cashew cheese balls with spicy dipping sauce were (though meagre) well textured and tasty, and floury tortilla with grilled vegetables was equally well executed; the knockout dish, however, was a delicious special of aubergine wraps with almond cheese.
While a fine idea, the ‘build your own’ mixed meze was disappointing: along with a ho-hum houmous, a small serving of black beans had no discernible seasoning. The chef’s custom-created five-course menu (minimum four people) is useful for those with dietary restrictions, and includes an aperitif and glass of house wine. Desserts – variously raw, gluten-free and vegan – include a ‘cake of the day’ from Manna’s organic bakery (think rich sugar-free fruit cake, or spiced carrot cake stuffed with pineapple and walnuts), along with ice-creams and tarts.
Service from polite, though occasionally distracted, staff was adequate but we came away thinking that, with prices not cheap and competition so fierce, it might be time for Manna to up its game.