Sweet and savoury: yoghurt is the tops at Mandira
A fresh idea and simple idea comes to Long Acre in the form of this yoghurt restaurant – and it’s not all diet-friendly and vegetarian
07 July, 2017 — By Tom Moggach
Yoghurts take centre stage at Monadira in Long Acre
Most food start-ups can only dream of a permanent site in Covent Garden. These prime, high-rent locations are way out of reach for most new traders, who then spend years battling it out on the street food circuit.
But the young founders of Mandira have jumped in at the deep end – convincing landlords to lease them a shop in Long Acre.
Their concept is fresh and simple: a fresh yoghurt café, the first in London. Sounds daft? Don’t be fooled. There is a certain cunning logic to their plans.
Mandira serves up savoury and sweet yoghurt bowls with tempting toppings such as smoked salmon and dill, or dark chocolate and orange. These dishes hit the right notes for modern, health-conscious consumers: colourful and creative dishes that are easy on the wallet and look great on Instagram.
I visited for lunch, taking a seat in their chic, shiny new space of marble counters and bare brick walls.
One of the owners is Turkish and grew up in a food-obsessed Jewish family in Izmir, a large city on the Aegean coast.
The fresh produce from that part of the world is second to none. So fresh herbs and organic fruit and veg play a starring role on the Mandira menu.
I kicked off with an aubergine dish – a silky, smokey purée with roasted cherry tomatoes and a swirl of chilli powder and extra virgin olive oil. The yoghurt base (available low or full fat) works well, cooling down the heat of the dish. I recommend a side order of “simit”, a crisp Turkish bread similar to a bagel, so you can scoop it up like a spoon.
Other savoury combinations on the menu include avocado and beetroot, cucumber and mint, or hummus and za’atar.
If you don’t fancy lashings of yoghurt, Mandira also offers seasonal soups such as butternut squash and a range of simit sandwiches.
It’s not all diet-friendly and vegetarian. I rated their grilled simit sandwich with pastourma, a spicy beef salami, and oozy kesari, an aged cows’ milk cheese.
For pudding, there’s all manner of fruity combos. Pineapple and mango are jumbled with star anise, basil and honey; raspberries with walnuts, oats and cinnamon.
I liked the food here. It’s imaginative and original – far more fun than a visit to Pret or other high street chains.
You’ll find Mandira on the corner of Long Acre and Drury Lane. It’s open seven days a week, from early morning to 7pm. Yoghurt bowls are available in two sizes, priced from £2.50 to £4.75.
Will the business succeed? It’s notoriously difficult to turn a profit while paying West End rents. But I suspect the two founders, who met at business school, have hit on a concept right for its time.
“I always wanted to do something in food,” says one, cracking a relieved smile. “It’s an amazing feat that we opened. Finally I created something that makes people happy.”
78B Long Acre, WC2E
020 7836 9463