Vegan-friendly restaurant opens in Manchvegas

New juicery and cafe Milk & Honey is a welcome addition

Watch out, Boston and Portsmouth. The Queen City has a new vegan hipster hotspot, and it is ready to compete in the clean-eating big leagues.

Helmed by CodeX owner Liu Vaine, Milk & Honey Juicery + Cafe had its grand opening yesterday — ever had a smoothie in a snowstorm? — and it's already attracting a hip clientele and a sizable buzz. The eatery is tucked into a corner spot at Elm and Hanover Streets and takes advantage of its angle-heavy space with honeycomb-inspired decor and sleek Scandinavian design. It'd almost be intimidatingly cool if it weren't so intentionally welcoming.

The menu is built around a simple concept: the rainbow. Pick a category, like lunch bowl or juice, pick a color, and voila! You've ordered. For health food experts wondering if it's spirulina or spinach coloring that green juice, the menu comes equipped with full ingredient lists for every item. But for those just venturing into the vegan world, Milk & Honey has made it easy with their color-coding. Red in a drink probably means berries. Orange in a bowl? Sweet potatoes. Just find a color family that sounds familiar (or that sounds intriguingly wacky, like the black juice with activated charcoal) and let the hue do the talking — correct pronunciations of quinoa and tempeh not required.

The food that arrives at your table a few minutes later will in fact be rainbow-colored (thanks, bright-purple beets and sunny yellow corn), it will be healthy, and, most importantly, it'll be really, really tasty.

On the NH Mag team's first visit, we tried the yellow bowl, the white bowl, the yellow juice, and the white smoothie. Despite the similar color coding, each of the items was a totally different experience. The white bowl combined short-grain rice with beans and cashew milk sour cream with proteins like black beans and sweet potatoes for a lunch kind of like the healthiest burrito bowl you've ever had. The yellow bowl layered toppings like scrambled egg-esque ginger turmeric tofu over quinoa and a kick of Thai-style coconut curry sauce. We marveled over how something could be so tasty, so filling and so healthy all at once — and we haven't even delved into the oats and toast-filled breakfast menu yet.

The drinks, arguably the spot's specialty, were even better. The yellow juice gave off just a hint of its ginger and turmeric beneath its easy-to-enjoy pineapple, apple and lemon blend. The totally dairy-free white smoothie looked and tasted like a vanilla milkshake, with maple, banana and vanilla flavors melding together into a frozen drink that's somehow just right for a New England winter.

Milk & Honey is chic, welcoming, and, with an ingredient list that reads like a garden, stunningly healthy. A small number of dishes made with local eggs and honey are the only non-vegan items on the menu, and the cafe even serves up "Littles" like almond butter and jam sandwiches for pint-sized customers. So that's right: your vegan niece, your kindergartener, and your gluten-free neighbor can all enjoy a meal here together.

This place is unlike anything in Manchester (or far beyond), but it's a welcome addition. Pull up a trendy-looking seat, sip on a brightly-colored bevvie, and get ready to eat healthy and enjoy it.

Categories: Restaurant Reviews