Monday, 14 March 2016

Oh Manna Dew, oh my!

Oh Manna Dew, oh my!

When I heard a dedicated coeliac bakery and mostly refined sugar free bakery was opening up in London I was really excited. They have been trading as a cafe for about two or three months, however, due to health constraints I wasn't able to visit until I happened to have a medical appointment near by, and I am really glad we made the effort.

Located on Battersea High Street, a mix of older looking premises and trendier restaurants and shops, Manna Dew has a sleek design that looks great from the outside, which follows through into the interior. It was a Thursday lunch time but all the tables were full and although close together created a warm and friendly atmosphere. The staff were very kind and welcoming.

I ordered one of the breakfasts, but requested dairy free. Unfortunately the bread contains milk, which I obviously was quite sad about as the the cafe was filled with people's expressions of how incredible the bread was. Coeliacs, gluten sensitives and 'normal' people a like said the bread was heavenly. My mum did have the focaccia and described it as light, airy, flavoursome and crisp. As a gluten eater she said you couldn't tell it was gluten free and better than some normal bread she has had recently. 

The lunch I could eat, minus the bread, was a beautiful guacamole, smoked salmon and creamy scrambled egg. The flavours were superb. The guacamole was a stand out dish as it wasn't too spicy but full of flavour, with lovely flavour and great texture. They have a small menu that includes unusual all day breakfasts, sandwiches, pancakes, cinnamon toast, to name a few, plus all their beautiful patisserie.

The drinks also were also intriguing I had a 'Moroccan mint' tea minus the green tea (as it doesn't sit with me well). It was made from fresh mint, I always delight in fresh mint tea, mixed with rose water and agave nectar. It was so delicious and I definitely will try and replicate this at home. Not too sweet or flowery, the balance of flavours was spot on and both warming and refreshing on a bright, but cold lunchtime.

We then moved on to dessert. Sadly, there were not any completely dairy free options on the day we went. They do have a couple of recipes they can make up in advance if you let them know you are coming, one of which is a carrot cake. I am sure it is divine as after talking to the chef I am pretty sure he doesn't let anything less than perfect leave the kitchen! My mum had a salted caramel macaron (not refined sugar free) and she said it was very good. Also it went down really well with her second decaffeinated cappuccino. On the board outside they advertise that they do the best coffee, and we consider ourselves quite fussy with coffee, so this is a tough claim to live up. Luckily it did meet expectations. A bonus is that they have chosen really lovely china cups and saucers to drink out of, which does make a difference to the coffee drinking experience. None of these thick sided mugs but delicate edges to sip your chosen hot drink out of. They also offered things like fresh juices and fresh lemonade, sweetened with agave nectar. I am not sure whether I can eat butter or not without getting ill so I am about to cut it out of my diet, however, I decided to keep it a day longer as they did had a chocolate brownie which was dairy free apart from the butter. It was grain free, made with their own homemade chocolate and used agave nectar to sweeten it. It was more like a cross between a brownie and a torte. It did take me a while to eat as it was so rich and I was going to bring half home but we got chatting to the owners about the business so I slowly ate the brownie there and then (and yes I got another one to take away too for the next couple of days- i couldn't resist)!

It was great to be in a 100% coeliac environment, it's so nice to not worry about if a crumb has got into your food and you know that everyone fully understands about cross contamination, and luckily there can't be any here anyway. I stupidly forgot to get the owners names to include here, but after talking to them both, they are developing a gluten and dairy free bread and some gluten and dairy free patisserie. The chef is not a coeliac himself and is only recently diagnosed as being gluten intolerant so didn't realise just how many coeliacs also struggle with dairy. I am impressed that in the short time they have been open they aren't ignoring this problem, and are already creating recipes for us more complicated customers. I think this shows a real understanding and commitment to bringing out amazing allergy friendly products. They are so passionate about what they do. I really hope they succeed as they are lovely people, very enthusiastic and seem to have a good business head on too which is so important in the London cafe scene, as it is so competitive. All in all, I cannot wait to go back, especially when the dairy free element is a bit in place and I highly recommend making a special trip to Manna Dew, whether you have food intolerance or not.

Advice on when to go:
The owners said they have the most cakes available from Monday morning and then again at the weekends. They have cannot make and stock as many during the week as trade drops off a bit, although they were surprised how busy it was when we were there on a Thursday. Of course they bake fresh every day with a smaller selection of their cakes and they were replenishing them after the lunch time rush, so much so, they didn't have time to decorate the brownie I had ordered to take away (this really wasn't a problem for me)! Hopefully soon this place will become popular all the time and they will have even more cakes available through out the week.

Disabled Access:
- Pay and display parking along the highstreet and blue badges can be used here for free parking
- Step free access into the restaurant
- The lavatory is on the ground floor
- It might be hard to get a big wheelchair in the premises. If we hadn't got a space directly outside I think my small wheelchair might have squeezed into the cafe but I'm sure the staff would do their best to rearrange some chairs for anyone in a wheelchair

- Coeliac
- Dairy: on request in advance at the moment, in the future it will be available more readily and they will currently adapt the hot dishes for you
- Refined Sugar free: most things are but do double check, they use alternatives such as coconut sugar and agave nectar mostly

Future Plans:
-They have a kitchen that has the capacity to make a 1000 cakes a day so are hoping to roll out their products to other businesses around London and the UK
-Possibility of another cafe/patisserie
-Always adapting and changing the menus to be the best they can be

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