Sunday, 30 October 2011
Le Manoir Au Quat'Saison Review
I have, for many years, wanted to go Le Manoir, but to be totally honest I couldn't afford it or really justify spending a lot of money on a meal. Luckily for me, I went to The Ruby Charity Ball last July and won a £300 voucher to have a meal at Le Manoir and yesterday (Saturday 29th October) I had lunch there. I wanted to go for dinner but the dinner service was completely full, as priority is given to people who stay at the Hotel, as it's a Hotel/Restaurant.
It's actually very hard to write a review for Le Manoir, because for me it was almost perfect, from the food, the wonderful staff, the food, the ambiance, the food, the wine, and if you didn't get the message.....the food!
As you drive up to the hotel, you are greeted by the hotel staff as they open your car door. You are whisked into a lovely grand lounge were you are given the menu to view whilst supping on a drink; mine was a local Oxford gin made out of apples, which I personally didn't like but my partner enjoyed it. Whilst we browsed the menu we were given some canapés, which contained gravdlax (cured salmon), crab tart, vegetable ball with a hint of cumin, a very mild and tasty goats cheese on a thin biscuit, all of which were scrumptious.
There was a set menu, consisting of a 7 course taster menu, it sounded incredible, but I was in the mood for seafood/fish which wasn't on this menu. So we ordered from al a carte menu. We both ordered lobster ravioli in a lemongrass bisque with scallops and young tender stalks of samphire. Everything was cooked to perfection and we couldn't find anything to criticise about it. The ravioli was tender, the lobster meat inside was moist and tender. The lemongrass bisque was delicate and was simply divine. It's also looked like a work of art on a plate, the picture I've taken doesn't do it justice.
For my main course I made a slight mistake by not reading the menu thoroughly enough and ordered turbot, with oyster, scallops, samphire in a berre blanc lemongrass sauce, so I had two dishes with a lemongrass sauce, but they were totally different. Again this was perfectly cooked, with the fish being firm, the scallops moist and succulent and the lemongrass berre blanc was superb and did not overpower the delicate seafood. My partner had lamb with sweetbreadson a bed of quinoa, which just melted in the mouth and the meat reduction had a great depth of flavour.
I followed this with a selection of soft French cheeses, which just melted in the mouth. I always prefer to have plain high baked waterbiscuits because it's the cheese that should sing and not the biscuits. The waiter arranged the cheese in strength of flavour so each piece became stronger and with time they started to melt into a gorgeous googey mess. My partner had apple croustade with an apple sauce with vanilla seeds. The filo pastry was beautifully crisp and the apple was sweet but with the apple sauce being a little tart it helped to counteract the sweetness of the apples on the croustade. To accopmany these courses I had a vintage port and my partner a dessert wine- both were perfect choices.
After the meal we were taken back to the lounge to have coffee and petit fours. After a little while we had a tour of the kitchen and it was spotless. You could eat your dinner off the floor it was that clean, and they hadn't cleaned up after lunch service! It was amazing to watch how the kitchen team all worked together to produce such amazing food. We were fortunate to meet the head chef, who shook our hands and we thanked him and his team for their hard work. After the tour we got to do another little tour of the wine cellar, which again was amazing with a huge array of champagne, wines and spirit . I asked if they could lock me in there for a few hours, but of course it was denied request; damn :-). At one point we were shown a £3,000 bottle of wine and I tried to put in my jacket, but they were to quick, haha. My partner had to touch the bottle just so he could say that he had.
The staff were incredible- attentive without being intrusive, polite and nothing was any trouble, even the tour around the kitchen and cellar was unplanned beforehand and they were more than willing to show us around despite their busy schedule.
I now have two problems. How do I save up so I can go back again and secondly how am I going to enjoy another restaurant again? I guess I'll have to wait until I have a significant big birthday (friends get the hint). I've always wondered how restaurants can charge so much money for food, but when you see all the people, and the work that goes into creating culinary works of art like this you can understand why it costs so much. I can see why it's got two Michelin stars but cannot understand why it doesn't have three. I would highly recommend this amazing restaurant/hotel, but speak to your bank manager first!