Manifesto is an Italian small plates spot Downtown that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The conceptual curve ball is the pairing of Scotch whisky with the Italian cuisine. The folks behind deNovo make the two mesh nicely.
The decor is a whimsical collection of quotes from historic and cultural figures. I particularly enjoyed the Scotch quote from Ron Burgundy. The redesign was a great use of the space compared to the previous tenant Isabella's.
There are plenty of vegetarian dishes on the menu. The server explained that the kitchen would prepare vegetarian versions of many of the dishes with meat or seafood in them upon request.
The breaded crispy mozzarella is treated with basil oil, balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce. Imagine a haute cheese stick and you're about half way there.
The spicy tomato bisque has a bright, hot base that pairs well with sandwiches. It was a natural accompaniment to the Italian grilled cheese, a panini made on thick cut bread with goat cheese, provolone and mozzarella.
The Tuscan hummus is made with cannellini beans instead of chickpeas. Crispy flatbread scoops up the delicious puree.
The butternut squash lasagna was visually pleasing but perhaps a bit sweet. The richness of the dish was overpowering.
The cocktails have stylish names like the Corpse Reviver and Mommy's Little Helper. While cocktails might introduce a novice Scotch drinker to the liquor, the lengthy list of whiskies offers choices to please the most discerning palates.
The most offensive thing about Manifesto is the music selection. The soundtrack includes a terrible mish-mash designed to please everybody in attendance. Unfortunately, the collection of Dave Matthews, Kenny G and George Strait and other inoffensive drivel I heard from the speakers will irritate everybody except for Clear Channel executives.
The made-to-order pastries in the morning look pretty tempting. Choices include a chocolate praline croissant and pecan sticky buns.