London vegans may seem like they have it all but there is one department where I found them to be lacking: vegan brunch. I did a little investigating online and found less than a handful of the many vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the city offering brunch on the weekends. One weekend, John was begging me to find him a good brunch so I took him to Manna, a fancy vegan restaurant in Primrose Hill. Technically, they serve lunch on the weekends. Luckily, they had one very brunch appropriate and delicious sounding dish on their menu: organic bangers and mash.
John’s perfect brunch started off with a soy milk latte.
Mine started with a bowl of sweet potato soup and some fancy rolls. You see, I had a different plan for this meal. I wasn’t there for brunch as much as I was there for dessert. I’ll get to that in a moment…
…back to John’s main course. The talented chef’s at Manna took the traditional English dish of bangers and mash and turned it into a vegan-friendly culinary masterpiece that looked so pretty John found himself a bit shy to dig in. Of course, his hesitation passed after a few photos were snapped to capture the moment. He was soon enjoying what he credits as being the best brunch of his life.
The whole dish was fantastic. Manna’s sausages were made with cashew cheese, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, fennel and a mix of herbs and spices. The artful tower was topped with crispy and light onion rings. On the bottom, there was a layer of broccoli, spring potatoes & vegetable mash, and a leek and thyme jus. Before eating at Manna, I’d never seen the word jus on a menu. I looked it up and learned it’s “a rich, lightly reduced stock used as a sauce.” How fancy!
Okay, now it’s time for me to confess my true intentions. As much as I wanted John to have the brunch he’d been craving, I also really wanted to try Manna’s banoffee trifle, a dessert with multiple layers of chocolate cake, banana, custard, toffee, whipped cream and toasted nuts.
The kind folks at Manna were very accommodating and substituted the banana for some fresh, mixed berries. With the banana replaced, John was able to enjoy the trifle with me (the crazy man hates bananas). I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear it was amazing. It was unlike any dessert we’d ever had before, with many rich flavours and contrasting textures. The layers of toffee and roasted cashew nuts were my favourite.
Manna is a beautiful restaurant, and their food really is spectacular. Their prices are very high, especially if you’re working with a backpacker budget, but we made some sacrifices in other areas so we could enjoy a meal there. For reference, their weekend lunch mains cost £13-14 GBP ($19.15-$20.62 USD) and their desserts £5-8 GBP ($7.36-$11.78 USD), with the trifle and bangers and mash being at the higher end. There are a few lower budget items, like soup for £6.00 GBP ($8.84 USD) and salads for £7.00 GBP ($10.31 USD). Look past the high prices, the food is worth it.