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eat left: Carrot soup center: Kale salad for different tastes, savory and sweet right: Sourdough bread from Wave Hill Breads below: Hummus toast with roasted vegetables and cucumber salad

MEETING SPOT

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ome coincidences are as delicious as a ripe tomato. Take, for example, Molly Healey’s new café, Manna Toast —a plant-based, all-day café, which is taking hold in the space of a meat purveyor (M.EAT). These extremes of the diet scale are more alike than one might notice at first glance: Both reflect local food tastes today—small, niche, local and high-end. It’s just that one provided meat; the other, vegetables. When you give up steaks, you get sprouts. “We’ll be a café with salads and toasts,” says Molly Healey, the owner. “We’ll have really interesting and fun toasts, not your standard avocado toasts. We’re making full meals—large concepts that are on toast and bread, but we’re going to have a lot of different kinds and different toppings to bridge the gap between a full-service and

a quick-service restaurant that’s easily accessible.” She’s excited to bring this new way of thinking about plant-based foods to Westport. “I’ve always eaten things on bread,” she adds. A sweet-potato base is available for those who want to skip the toast. The new place will also use locally sourced seasonal ingredients as well as selections from a local bread maker and local coffee roaster. For those who want

it, the café will also offer a bit of dairy from local farmers as well as sustainable fish. “We’re trying to find someone who has responsibly caught fish.” Molly is very particular about the food providers she works with, and that’s good for her customers. From vegetables, dairy, fish, bread and more, each is carefully chosen, and she asks all of the questions that a food critic would pose (and more). All of that, she says, will be brought “into one

package,” like a creatively stacked, satisfying open-faced sandwich. Manna will have four big salads, ten different toasts, three rotating soups and a couple of sides—like roasted vegetables—as well as yogurt and fruits, local coffee and wine and beer. It will also make its own plant milks. The small café will rely on work that is done at the large commissary kitchen. “We’re going for a community-based program,” she says. “So, we’re going to be a café, but we’re also going to be an event space and have cooking classes, farmers’ market-style. We want to be educational and bring in people to try interesting stuff and to do catered events.” Learning about food is as important to her as enjoying the taste of it. THE ROOTS Molly learned to cook from her mother. “I’ve always cooked, my

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ALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY STACY BASS

THE NEW PLANT-BASED CAFÉ MANNA TOAST COMES TO BEDFORD SQUARE by diane sembrot