When stepping foot in Cafe Manna, it is kind of hard to describe the environment. It's not super upscale but there are candles on each table. Hardwood floors are beneath you as you dine with cloth napkins and two forks. (a sign of upscale eating) The lighting is dim, yet there is a lot of sunlight peering through the other side of the restaurant through the larger windows. (see below) One word that did come to mind before leaving was clean. Another was simple. The aesthetics of this place were not too much or underwhelming, but fit just right, like the photos of potatoes, vegetables and other clean eats that come to mind when thinking about vegetarian food, leading me to the menu and the vast amount of options and surprises.
Danielle and I sifted through this menu, and we had a lot of questions and options to consider since neither of us had been here before. The coconut cashew spread with crackers they provided us were on the house and delicious. It was creamy and paired well with the cracker which was more of a multi-grain kind of option. Ultimately, I chose their black bean and mushroom burger with oven roasted sweet potato wedges (a simple, yet safe choice) while Danielle opted for their Mushroom Basil Radiatori which came with sauteed shallots and mushrooms tossed in a cashew cauliflower basil sauce (essentially an Alfredo sauce) with a vegan walnut parmesan, among other things. I have been on a burger kick lately and want to try to perfect my own burger at home. I think it is always helpful to try restaurants' version of a favorite dish.
My friend Danielle loved the Radiatori dish. I also loved it, and I was MORE than happy to have a few bites. This dish was $18, which might seem like a lot, but the portion size was large. As we both discussed while dining, pasta at Calderone Club or somewhere in downtown Milwaukee averages at $20 or higher so it did not seem too crazy, especially considering it was made with some vegan premium ingredients. Interested in other options? Cafe Manna serves a stir fry, vegan pizza, a tuno-belt and a tempeh reuben. All of these dishes are $15 and below so the prices seem to be reasonable for a gamut of options. Their dessert runs a little high, including raw cheesecake that is $10 and carrot cake for the same price. That said, these desserts seem more like shareables, and sharing is exactly what we did with the chocolate chip cookie torte that was $9.
When I go out to eat, I don't want to be hungry when I leave. That's the whole purpose of eating out. I should add that this waiter did not come visit our table a lot but instead checked on us a few times and answered all of our questions to a manner which I thought was excellent. I have gotten very particular about my food and restaurants as I become more seasoned in the food review/blogging game, and Cafe Manna clearly has done their homework on how to create the best vegan and vegetarian eats for customers. Their chefs, waiters and ambiance scream veteran, and to that, I salute them and give them a lot of praise. Job well done my good and faithful restaurant. Job well done.