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  • MANA Food Bar

    Post #1 - February 4th, 2015, 5:52 pm
    Post #1 - February 4th, 2015, 5:52 pm Post #1 - February 4th, 2015, 5:52 pm
    Yes, Jill Barron is an old friend of mine. And while that got me to Mana in the 1st place, that’s not what keeps me coming back over the yrs. 4 blks from my house, so it’s really in my neighborhood, Mana is a place that everyone I’ve ever taken (Beard award winning chefs included)- loves.

    “A meatless dining option in a warm, tasteful environment”- Jill’s sliders and chili are delicious in their own right, and need no apologies for being sans meat. She sells 1,000's of orders of them during Division St fests. The mushroom sauté over creamy polenta with asiago is perfect- rich and comforting, and there’s usually some great pickles on the menu to act as foil. Her Brussels sprouts with a pungent miso mustard, are one of my favorite preparations of one of my favorite veggies.

    When she participated in the Localicious event I did for Family Farmed Expo @ the UIC Forum, her food was among the high points of a night full of heavy hitters. I know Jill to be a dedicated carnivore with "pork" tattooed on her inner lip, but @ Mana, vegetables are her medium, and her talent as a chef is the reason no one misses the meat.

    A few words from the LTH archives:

    Hellodali- “a vegetarian place where even us carnivores won't miss the meat because of the wonderful range of flavors.”


    Ronnie Suburban- “I ate at Mana for the first time last night and thought it was effing awesome; revelatory in many ways. Having read a bit about the place and chef/owner Jill Barron, I somewhat knew what to expect but still . . . wow! Dishes were thoughtful and extraordinarily well-conceived and well-executed. Flavors were assertive and distinctive. Textures were varied and satisfying. From my perspecitve, the absence of meat was nothing more than an afterthought . . .”

    “It's not an exaggeration to say that this is one of the best renditions of chili that I've ever had. I never thought I'd ever say that about a meatless version. The beans were cooked perfectly and the flavors popped explosively. This chili made me feel that sometimes, meat just gets in the way of a dish. It was truly a revelation.”


    Happy_Stomach - “refreshingly unpretentious.”

    http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=208031
    http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=474614
    http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=311878
    http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=487685

    Winner of two Michelin Bib Gourmand awards among numerous other accolades, Mana has a great patio in the summer and is a true neighborhood gem that I feel deserves GNR status.

    Mana Food Bar
    1742 W. Division St
    Chicago, IL
    773-342-1742
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #2 - February 5th, 2015, 12:13 am
    Post #2 - February 5th, 2015, 12:13 am Post #2 - February 5th, 2015, 12:13 am
    Mr. pairs4life, the omnivore, starts saying lets head over to Mana before I do!
    That chili with a couple of sliders and a housemade green juice + that awesome avocado salad with the pickled onions, okay, I think it has been about 6 weeks since last we were there so I think I know it is time to get back.

    I second Mana for a GNR!
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #3 - February 6th, 2015, 4:21 pm
    Post #3 - February 6th, 2015, 4:21 pm Post #3 - February 6th, 2015, 4:21 pm
    I liked Mana a lot when I visited last, but it has been at least a few years. Since there hasn't been any talk about Mana since 2012 (my post, about a 2 year prior meal in fact) why not organize a group meal?
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #4 - February 6th, 2015, 4:48 pm
    Post #4 - February 6th, 2015, 4:48 pm Post #4 - February 6th, 2015, 4:48 pm
    Please do--I've never been!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #5 - February 6th, 2015, 7:25 pm
    Post #5 - February 6th, 2015, 7:25 pm Post #5 - February 6th, 2015, 7:25 pm
    One problem w/Mana is it's small and doesn't take reservations. What I'll do is ask Jill what would be a good time for a group and maybe we can just barge in @ opening one pm. Let me see and get back to you. In the meantime, even w/2 pp you can get a good feel for the food.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #6 - February 6th, 2015, 8:29 pm
    Post #6 - February 6th, 2015, 8:29 pm Post #6 - February 6th, 2015, 8:29 pm
    Jazzfood wrote:In the meantime, even w/2 pp you can get a good feel for the food.


    This; it really is a great place for a date. The sake and cocktail offerings are underrated, too.
  • Post #7 - February 9th, 2015, 10:13 am
    Post #7 - February 9th, 2015, 10:13 am Post #7 - February 9th, 2015, 10:13 am
    You can also order delivery from Mana using the Caviar app.
  • Post #8 - February 9th, 2015, 5:06 pm
    Post #8 - February 9th, 2015, 5:06 pm Post #8 - February 9th, 2015, 5:06 pm
    Posted a dinner on the events forum. http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=41732
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #9 - February 9th, 2015, 6:29 pm
    Post #9 - February 9th, 2015, 6:29 pm Post #9 - February 9th, 2015, 6:29 pm
    I heartily support this nomination. I've head dishes at Mana (pumpkin tamale, mushrooms and polenta) that still haunt my dreams.
  • Post #10 - February 26th, 2015, 4:13 pm
    Post #10 - February 26th, 2015, 4:13 pm Post #10 - February 26th, 2015, 4:13 pm
    Jazzfood wrote:Posted a dinner on the events forum. http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=41732


    I went to Jazzfood's dinner and posted about it over here. It was really an outstanding meal at a restaurant that is much deserving of a GNR. Jill Baron is dong some really great things with vegetarian cooking. If I lived closer, I'd have Mana in my regular rotation, despite bing a confirmed carnivore.

    GNR for Mana? Yes Yes Yes.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #11 - March 2nd, 2015, 5:20 pm
    Post #11 - March 2nd, 2015, 5:20 pm Post #11 - March 2nd, 2015, 5:20 pm
    I enjoyed most of what I tasted at Mana-some things more than others. In particular, I thought the sliders, bulgogi and mapo tofu were really delicious. I could eat those sliders every week. I didn't care for the brussel sprouts and sesame noodles and, in general, thought the Asian items fared better than the Italian dishes we ordered, with the exception of the sesame noodles which had an odd texture (I was surprised when I saw that they were pasta and not a "spiralized" cut of actual veggies, since that's what they kind of reminded me of). The ravioli and polenta dishes were very good but a bit heavier than I care for--more a personal preference I think than an actual flaw. In general, my comment on the food is similar to others--I love that they aren't faking anything here--veggies and the occasional tofu are the stars in their natural state. They're not trying to make anything, even the "slider," pretend to be meat--just delicious.

    Unfortunately, my biggest issue was the service. Our server kept insisting on removing things. He took the menu out of my hand--I asked if I could keep it and even said it's because I didn't know what had been pre-ordered and we might want to add a dish or two. I set it down, a few minutes later turned my head, and he'd taken it. He took drink glasses with liquid clearly still in them. He removed bowls with food still in them. It was almost comical after a while. Except it wasn't. One of our group even said something about it and yet, it changed nothing. Aside from that, I really enjoyed the meal and would probably go back. But I can't give 100% GNR approval just based on the service issues. Hopefully others with recent experience will chime in that this was a weird one-off!!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #12 - March 2nd, 2015, 5:58 pm
    Post #12 - March 2nd, 2015, 5:58 pm Post #12 - March 2nd, 2015, 5:58 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:In general, my comment on the food is similar to others--I love that they aren't faking anything here--veggies and the occasional tofu are the stars in their natural state. They're not trying to make anything, even the "slider," pretend to be meat--just delicious.


    My feelings echo this sentiment. I've only been once and my impressions weren't strong in either direction but I liked the approach. Some items were great, especially the sliders, while others were good. It's the dead of winter so I have to wonder if the menu really shines with the summer bounty available. FWIW, the service was good on my visit.
  • Post #13 - March 2nd, 2015, 6:33 pm
    Post #13 - March 2nd, 2015, 6:33 pm Post #13 - March 2nd, 2015, 6:33 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote: (I was surprised when I saw that they were pasta and not a "spiralized" cut of actual veggies, since that's what they kind of reminded me of).


    Actually, if you look closely at the picture, the noodles are mixed with shredded pea pods and carrots. That explains why you detected a veggie taste. There's some superb knife work on display here. Of course, your personal taste might not favor this dish, and that's understandable. It wasn't my favorite dish of the evening, either. I've learned that everyone can't like everything. I don't even buy into the fact that nobody doesn't like Sara Lee. :wink:

    Image
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #14 - March 2nd, 2015, 7:11 pm
    Post #14 - March 2nd, 2015, 7:11 pm Post #14 - March 2nd, 2015, 7:11 pm
    I knew the veggies were cut to mimic the pasta--but the pasta itself tasted kind of dry and coarse to me--more like the texture of the carrot than even the carrot itself ;) Not bad--just not my favorite.

    Does anyone know if the menu changes a lot? It didn't seem to have a very seasonal focus to it--and, while that's always nice, I don't feel it's essential that everything be super "cheffy." These were simple, enjoyable dishes that I could see being prepared all year long--the same as what I'd expect at any good neighborhood spot. If they changed things up seasonally, that would just be a bonus.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #15 - March 2nd, 2015, 7:12 pm
    Post #15 - March 2nd, 2015, 7:12 pm Post #15 - March 2nd, 2015, 7:12 pm
    I should add that I barely got to read the menu since I was playing hide and go seek with it with the server all night so if it had any info on that, I missed it!!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #16 - March 6th, 2015, 4:14 pm
    Post #16 - March 6th, 2015, 4:14 pm Post #16 - March 6th, 2015, 4:14 pm
    MANA has been a long time favorite of mine and is my go to when I'm dining out with a vegetarian. I typically stay away from spots with globe-trotting menus, but I think chef Barron does a good job with it.
  • Post #17 - March 15th, 2015, 2:41 am
    Post #17 - March 15th, 2015, 2:41 am Post #17 - March 15th, 2015, 2:41 am
    Wonderful nomination.

    Mana Food Bar for GNR, yes please!
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #18 - March 16th, 2015, 5:11 pm
    Post #18 - March 16th, 2015, 5:11 pm Post #18 - March 16th, 2015, 5:11 pm
    After our recent LTH outing to Mana, I can say with confidence that I do support it as a GNR. They take vegetarian cuisine, something that many an LTHer would scoff at and turn it into something that as everyone has echoed "food even a carnivore could love". My one complaint is that I'm pretty sure the menu is almost identical to what it was 5+ years ago, but I guess if you're doing something right maybe keeping at it works. This complaint, however, does not change the fact that I consider Mana a GNR.
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #19 - March 16th, 2015, 11:59 pm
    Post #19 - March 16th, 2015, 11:59 pm Post #19 - March 16th, 2015, 11:59 pm
    Definitely support Mana as a GNR. Great nomination!

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French

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