I haven’t eaten at Manna for a while, not because it’s not good, just that there are so many places to try. On the 1st of Jan, many restaurants were closed but Manna was open so I had breakfast there and was glad I did. I had forgotten how good it is. It’s definitely the best breakfast. It does come at a premium, but a premium experience comes at a premium price, that’s how it works.
They were very full on this particular morning but as I was dining alone they found me a space without much difficulty. I ordered my standard poached eggs and bacon (R55) so I could compare the fare with other breakfast spots. There were some appealing sounding alternatives though (scrambled eggs with Norwegian salmon and avocado looked good). The food does take a long time to arrive so I had plenty of time to appreciate the decor. I say appreciate because it is really a beautiful place. Everything is white with occasional flashes of pink and unusual decorations. The walls are surprisingly bare, but there are interesting ‘shell clusters’ hanging from the ceiling as well as little packets of water (can someone tell me what that’s about?). It’s a very relaxing setting, open and airy but not too noisy as there is not that much traffic this far up Kloof Street. I went to check out the toilets and wasn’t surprised to find more interesting decor: unusual ‘chandeliers’ of tea cups and murals drawn with what looked like icing.
That only passed some of the time, the rest of the time I was watching their awesome bread being made. They make rye and walnut, plain rye and plain ciabattas as well as one with dates in I think. They can be purchased for between R15 and R25 each. The meals are served with these breads and that makes it something special. I enjoyed every bit of the bread that came with my breakfast. The poached eggs were perfect, the bacon was a generous portion and the grilled (rosa?) tomatoes with fresh rocket added a fresh flavour to the plate. The plate was also warm, which meant my breakfast didn’t freeze 20 seconds after delivery.
There always has to be something wrong, so what was wrong with Manna Epicure? Nothing that seriously detracted from the meal but I was surprised when the butter served was those little plastic single serving butters that you would get at Wimpy. The butter was still hard which made spreading it on the fresh bread quite difficult. That just felt a little out of place in such a fine establishment and next to such fine fare. My other complaint is the wait, if you’re hungry or in a hurry, you will really notice it. It’s not a problem if you’re looking for a long relaxed dining experience and have some good company with whom to pass the time. My last negative is not specific to Manna, but they present their salt and pepper in pinch bowls. I know this is quite common these days but I really wonder how hygienic it is? You never know where other people’s fingers have been.
The service was adequate, in fact I ordered a glass of water and it came straight away with ice, lemon and a sprig of mint. I thought they had brought me a cocktail by mistake. The coffee (R12) was not fantastic but passable. The crowd is trendy and all seemed as good looking as the venue. Manna is only open for breakfast and lunch. The lunch menu looks very tasty, offering meals or a selection of tapas. I will definitely have to try it for lunch sometime soon and hopefully the experience is as good as the breakfast experience was.
On the way out I was tempted to by some of the delicious looking cupcakes (R15 – R20 each).
151 Kloof St, Tamboerskloof
021 426 2413