21 Oak is a GREAT little vegan restaurant in the heart of downtown Manchester. Let me pause a moment to clarify…I am not a full time vegan. I am an adventurous food eater and it’s an added bonus when it’s good for you AND tastes good (and I don’t call it great when it’s vegan unless it’s both). However, it does take a little bit of an adventurous eater to step out of their comfort zone and try something new – whether it be plant-based food, or something like an African peanut tofu stew.
Named for it’s street address, this little restaurant partners with local farmers to offer these flavorful 100% plant-based options. The restaurant is cozy, and can get crowded, which may slow the service down a little bit, but the food is worth the wait!
We tried the cheezy nachos, and for anyone who has never had vegan cheese before let me tell you – when it’s done right you don’t even realize it’s not cheese, and these cheezy nachos were perfectly prepared! The chili spice was just right, there were enough toppings for every chip, and enough chips for a table of four to enjoy!
From left to right clockwise below: spicy eggplant tacos, cheezy nachos, sweet potato scallion cakes, African peanut tofu stew and vegan sausage and peppers. Everything was prepared well and full of flavor, so you could forget it was a plant-based dish.
We also enjoyed the butternut squash and moonbeam soup and vegan French onion soup, which isn’t pictured but is definitely worth a mention. In my opinion, the French onion soup at 21 Oak came in just above the well-done traditional French onion soup at the Willbrew, mainly due to the flavorful broth.
For more pictures and information go to their website: 21Oakmanchester.com
41 Closets is a funky upscale consignment boutique on Main Street Manchester with an eclectic steam punk inspired style that permeates the entire shop – from the unique and stylish selection of clothing and accessories to the vintage decor, this shop is a place to check in on once in awhile. At the time I was there they were running a 50% off sale so keep your eyes peeled for great sales too! To learn more, like them on Facebook here: 41 Closets on Facebook.
If you’re lucky enough to meet the manager, you’ll understand instantly where the stores charm comes from. She is an incredible artist who sells her hand-crafted journal covers at the shop. Delicately molding each detail out of clay, using trinkets she has on hand (so she is always recycling goods as well), her journal covers take between 10 – 15 hours to craft (even hand-crafting the eyes that are so real they sometimes appear as though they are looking at you). She also does pet portraits upon request.
A little about Manchester…
Manchester was settled in about 1672 as a farming community known as Oxford Parish. The land was originally part of Hartford, then East Hartford (when East Hartford became it’s own separate town) from 1783 to 1823.
There are several rivers and brooks in Manchester, which made it an industrial hub for many textile industries, and it houses two historic sites: the Pitkin Glassworks Ruin, and the Cheney Brothers Historic District. The Cheney Brother Historic District is a National Historic Landmark, which contains the mills and homes of the owners and workers of what was the world’s largest silk mill, which was started by the Cheney family in 1838.
There is much to do in Manchester today. There are museums dedicated to its history, Wickham Park and Case Mountain for hiking and biking, and abundant restaurants and shopping with the shops at Buckland Hills Mall and Evergreen Walk. There is also the world-famous Manchester Road Race held every Thanksgiving day, which has over 10,000 participants from around the world annually, and is second in popularity among New Englanders only to the Boston Marathon.
The information on Manchester’s history was taken from wikipedia.org/Manchester, Connecticut.
Many thanks to my readers who have made it this far with me! My next blog on Salem, MA will be posted soon…Just in time for Halloween (and Samhain)…Please leave comments or message me, I’d love to hear from you!!