Those passing through the massive doors of the new Museum of the Bible (400 Fourth Street SW) this weekend will get a taste of what life is like in the Holy Land at Manna, the cafeteria-style eatery restaurateur Todd Gray has installed on the top floor.
Gray, founder of nearly 20-year-old downtown restaurant Equinox, visited Israel earlier this year to prepare for this quick-service experience he’s created for museumgoers, sampling all manner of local cooking in order to construct the most authentic recreation possible stateside. His tasting tour included endless amounts of hummus, hearty vegetable stews (eggplant and chickpeas figured prominently), braised lamb, and crunchy falafel.
The lessons learned on that trip are now manifest in Manna’s initial offerings, a menu that includes: seasonally inspired falafel (expect pumpkin and perhaps butternut squash this fall; he floated green garlic for spring, and mint and pea in the summer); yogurt-brined rotisserie chicken (also served at Equinox); vegan chili with white beans; Israeli couscous with fruit and nuts; lamb meatballs with caramelized onions and mint; and cooked-to-order flatbreads dressed with grilled haloumi, dried figs, labneh, and more. Equinox alum and aspiring bakery owner Brandi Edinger has returned to the fold as executive pastry chef, adding sweets such as pistachio baklava and chocolate halva into the mix.
Customers order meals by traveling down a line dotted with various stations (soup/salad, grains/rice, toppings, sides, flatbreads, desserts). Seating in the main dining room is first come, first served, while an adjoining members’ lounge can accommodate private parties. A rooftop garden is also available for private receptions. Those looking for even more of a grab-and-go experience can also find coffee, pastries, and pre-packaged food at companion Milk & Honey Cafe, which is located just above the main lobby.
Both of the internal restaurants are projected to operate on the same schedule as the museum. The Museum of the Bible is projected to function from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.
A formal dedication for the new museum is scheduled for Friday, November 17. It is currently scheduled to open to the public at 8 a.m. Saturday, November 18.
Status: Certified open. 400 Fourth Street SW; website.
Scroll down for a sneak peek at Manna.