I’d been looking forward to paying the Manna House a visit, ever since I walked past it on my way to Gregg’s, the other day, when I was in pursuit of hot sandwiches. I felt a little guilty, then, and my stop-off today did nothing to diminish those guilt levels.‬

‪The Manna House has a tall reputation for baking excellence. As you step over their threshold, you can immediately smell why. The place does smell good. It’s hard to pin-down exactly what the smell is, other than “homely, welcoming bakery smell”, as once you take a glance round the shop, you’re confronted with a dazzling array of sweet and savoury treats.

‪We were taking away, today, but there’s room for a few diners to linger, drink in the glorious aroma, and sample the baked goods over strongly brewed cups of tea, or rich, dark coffee.

‪We had a choice of two soups: one featured chorizo and chick peas; the other peppers and aubergine. Gary was in about the chorizo, with no hesitation. I was paused to reflect, as aubergine is a soup ingredient I have toyed with in the past, with only limited success. I made an roasted aubergine soup, many months ago, which tasted very wholesome, but won no beauty contests.

‪In the UK, the aubergine is an ingredient that bears little relation to those you find growing natively in warmer climates. It’s a staple of Turkish food, for example (patlican is one of the few Turkish words I learnt during my first visit to Istanbul), but replicating their recipes over here is quite a challenge.

‪I digress. I decided to go for the pepper and aubergine, in the knowledge that I might regret the choice. I suppose, to an extent, I did, as Gary proclaimed his soup to be an absolute, sure fire 5 out of 5. I was very pleased with mine, though. Firstly, it was an attractive green colour, secondly it tasted rather good, and thirdly it had an excellent, creamy texture, blended to just the right level of smoothness, while retaining a sense of rustic charm.

‪Gary matched his soup with a freshly made, still warm ciabatta, while I opted for a simple rye roll. I was delighted with my roll, but again I think he picked the star item.

‪We both opted to try one of the perfectly pretty mousses from their patisserie counter.

‪I opted for the beetroot and chilli.

Gary chose the cassis.

I was delighted with the dainty little offering, so much so that I decided to take it to my afternoon meeting and share it with two of my colleagues. Plastic forks in hand, we attacked with extreme politeness. I enjoyed it, but I think, on reflection, it looked marginally better than it tasted, but it looked spectacular. The whisper of lingering chilli heat was really quite pleasing, but it didn’t quite match the wow factor you got from first catching sight of it.‬

‪Whatever the case, I will be insisting that Cake Quest’s Sarah makes a visit here, almost immediately, and informs me that any lingering doubts I may have are pure heresy.

‪Overall, The Manna House is a lovely place for lunch. I imagine you could really impress a dedicated sweet-tooth by taking them there, and allowing them to run-riot for an hour of two. Their soupy soup is top quality, as well, so I’ll be back to sample from their range of baked goods again, soon. I suggest you do the same.

‪Blythe scores The Manna House:
‪4/5 for food
‪4/5 for presentation
‪3/5 for service
‪3/5 for setting
‪giving an overall 14/20

‪Gary scores The Manna House:
‪5/5 for food
‪3/5 for presentation
‪3/5 for service
3/5 for setting
‪giving an overall 14/20

‪We ate: chorizo and chick pea soup, pepper and aubergine soup, ciabatta, rye roll, cassis mousse, beetroot and chilli mousse.

‪We drank: once more, the soupy goodness was moisture enough

‪We wore: denim trousers, lemon shirt

Total bill: c.£11‬

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Written by TheDudley