Manna in Madison

It required a drive across town on a snowy Saturday morning.

While it wasn't exactly a 40 year trek through the desert, I was hungry just the same when we arrived at the Manna Cafe and Bakery on North Sherman up in the northeast corner of Madison.

The name comes from the food provided for the nation of Israel on their journey from Egypt to the promised land.

The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. Exodus 16:31

My reason for the trip was to sample the reason for their inclusion in Madison Magazine's Top 13 Pancakes list - the Manna Cafe's Collins House Oatmeal Pancakes.

Just look closely - get real close - and you might be able to enjoy the same fragrance I took in when the plate was delivered to table #5.  It's aroma made me love it before taking the first bite.

In the first bite of the pancake, I was taken by the way the oatmeal was obvious, but not overwhelming in it's distinctive and hearty flavor. 

Light, but filling - I made it through about half the stack.  The fresh fruit on the plate is a great touch and added some extra juice to the meal. The apple slices, orange, and grapes provided a wonderful combination with the cascade of flavor.

You know, I'm only half-way through the list of the 13 top pancakes.  Each one brings it's own quality to the fore-front.  The Collins House Oatmeal Pancakes are creamy like a bite of great hot oatmeal cereal with the fluffy quality of a great pancake.  Awesome.

The Manna Cafe is run by the Pratzels - who used to run the Collins House B-n-B here in the city.  After much acclaim for their menu, they started the cafe and bakery.

It's located in a strip mall, but don't let that fool you.  There is an immediate and obvious charm as you walk in the door.
The bakery counter is where the orders are placed for the meal delivered to your table.  If you haven't been there before, I suggest taking a menu to your table and make up your mind before returning to order.

We were at table #5 - marked by an artistic wooden spoon anchored in what appeared to be a small block of coffee beans covered in resin.  There is an art gallery throughout the restaurant with pieces for sale, and a comfortable area by the fire for a long dalliance with a cup of coffee and morning paper.

And, just like the original Manna... you could eat here everyday and never grow tired.