I’m not sure how it’s possible for me to have lived in the Milwaukee area as a vegetarian for nearly four years without ever visiting Cafe Manna, but it’s the truth. Last weekend Bryce treated me to a nice Saturday lunch before running errands. Eating there was a revelation. I have to say, I’ve never been particularly interested in eating at vegetarian restaurants. Usually they are full of snobbish, crunchy, judgmental people. Eating at Riverwest Co-Op, for example, was one of the most uncomfortable dining experiences of my life. Mostly because Bryce didn’t have a beard and I was wearing heels. (So for those of you who think we are total hipsters…no, not even close.) Plus the food is usually over-the-top healthy. Don’t get me wrong, I like healthy food, but when I’m going out to eat I like to indulge a little bit. I don’t necessarily want a chia hummus kale wrap.
Bryce has been west of Milwaukee quite a bit more these days since he is working in Waukesha. Recently one of his vendors took him out to lunch at Cafe Manna and he knew I would love it there. We were both hungry and grumpy on Saturday morning. Bryce pulled out our City Tin, which we have been terrible about using, and rummaged for the Cafe Manna card. Ten dollars off seemed worth the trip out to Brookfield.
When we arrived I was SO excited. I didn’t know what to expect, but Bryce said I could get dessert so I didn’t even care if judgy people were feeding me kale wraps.
Cafe Manna is far from what I imagined. It’s lovely and comfortable. Every detail is thought about from citrus water to free hummus & crackers. It’s clear they cater to people with dietary restrictions, which was such a relief for me. Food allergies are exhausting and scary to worry about. To hear them make sure they could refill Bryce’s water with the citrus variety made me quite happy. I would even feel comfortable taking friends who don’t have dietary restrictions to Cafe Manna. The food is just delightful.
Plus, I forgot what it was like to be able to choose anything I wanted off of a menu. I was completely overwhelmed in the most exciting way. A normal dining experience for me goes something like this:
1. Scan for a vegetarian section.
2. If no section, scan through individual sections for the potential of 1 item in each category being edible.
3. Closely read descriptions to avoid any sneaky meat products or foods I’m allergic to.
4. Decide what I want between the two things I can eat or hodge podge a meal together of sides and appetizers.
I actually don’t mind doing this. It might sound like I’m complaining, but I’m used to it and, like I said, having a full menu to choose from was overwhelming. How do y’all ever decide what to eat?! It took me forever to choose the black bean & mushroom burger with avocado & aioli plus a side of sweet potato wedges with roasted tomato dipping sauce. It was definitely a good decision. Oh, and I still had to make sure I wasn’t allergic to anything, but it was infinitely easier to do than at most restaurants.
Bryce ordered the chili special that came out in a nice big bowl and seemed to be the perfect amount of food. My black bean burger was wonderful and left me so stuffed. We ordered dessert to go–a slice of their much talked about carrot cake.
All in all, it was truly a fun, delicious, and relaxing experience. Being able to relax at a restaurant is something I didn’t realize I missed so much.