Kid Hit Menu Items: Mäni’s on Maple has those “natural” baked goods the original small Fairfax location was known for, along with an expanded menu with many breakfast items, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and sides. Then there’s the chocolate chip cookie, about which my dining companion and I disagreed. This big, thick disc used to be the main item I’d go out of my way for and craved during college. I had a thing for the mild fruit juice sweetened flavor and dense chips. At first I wasn’t so into the lighter cookie and finer crumb, but came to like it more as I munched my way through.
Adult Perks: The bar’s the first thing you see when coming into Mäni’s on Maple. Whoa, is that a flatscreen? This definitely isn’t the old Mäni’s! But the drinks use organic fruits and juices…that sort of thing. When “Happiest Hour” deals are available weeknights from 3 to 7, and between 9 and 11 p.m., a selection of small plates (arugula salad with beef tenderloin, slow roasted salmon salad, heirloom tomato bruschetta, etc.) and cocktails (including Bees Knees, fresh lime Daquiri, Moscow Mule) cost $6. The sophisticated dinner menu boasts dishes such as tagine-style pulled smoked lamb with rose scented peach chutney ($22); seitan meatballs; faro risotto with trumpet mushrooms & asparagus ($17); and roasted pork tenderloin with sweet corn and carrot hash and nectarine reduction ($21). All ingredients in the pre-tossed Cobb salad I ordered at lunch ($15) were extremely fresh with the right amount of featherweight cream dressing topped with sliced nicely charred chicken breast. That bacon could not have been more perfectly crisp.
Pros: The super sweet waiter brought a couple mini muffins for the baby. Staff was very courteous and the room is comfortable, with plenty of room between tables. Mäni’s on Maple is a great early dinner spot if you’re in the area, since the restaurant is large enough to accommodate a happy hour scene while separating the dining room demographics.
Cons: During the week during the day it seems to be mostly a work lunch crowd and not too cozy for the kiddos.
Changing Station: No, but the individual bathrooms are kinda cool.
High Chairs: Yes
Parking and Access: Metered parking on Maple and on the side street, validated self-parking and valet.
Other Tidbits: This latest version of the Mäni’s healthy baked goods and conscious food outfit might need some getting used to. Or maybe it’s just that speckled granite office building façade unduly influencing my impression. Take a shell of a circa late-80s restaurant which once upon a time also had dated celebrity affiliations (Dudley Moore and Sir Elton) and insert a mature version of a business that successfully peddles alternative treats with a contemporary veneer. The original Mäni’s on Fairfax (and later Main Street in Santa Monica) reminded us that whole-grain, sugar-free muffins and the like need not be intertwined with a Mother Earth vibe and Birkenstocks. This current expanded location, with a full-blown restaurant and bar, rides the wave of our current love affair with progressive food.
Maybe Mäni’s wants to reassert itself, since, after all, it was relatively early to the organic/fresh/wholesome/etc. ethics party that’s gone mainstream. And yet the spatial planning, materials, and color palette feel closer to a chic upscale airport lounge or corporate canteen. The new Mäni’s is indeed equally functional and practical, but also somewhat cold, more designed for the lunch needs of office workers in that eastern pocket Beverly Hills near the big post office, rather than creating a hang out spot in the laid back, café tradition. Perhaps most odd of all is the bakery selection: a small wheeled cart is meager real estate for the products that made this business’s reputation. That said, this multipurpose restaurant is flex for daytime and evening, and pleasant place to enjoy a lunch with its big menu of consciously selected ingredients.
UPDATE: Mani’s on Maple appears to have shuttered permanently.
345 N. Maple Drive, Beverly Hills
Cuisine: Market Fresh/Cafe/Bakery
Hours: Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.