Saturday, November 15, 2008

Return to Le Manoir

Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons
Church Road,Great Milton,
Oxford OX44 7PD Map

Truffles with everything! That seemed to be the theme of my latest visit to Le Manoir, Raymond Blanc's two-star restaurant in rural Oxfordshire. From the moment that the taxi arrived, we were the restaurant's special guests.

Mind you, so was everyone else. That's the beauty of dining at places like this – even though the restaurant is full, you feel like everything is being done just for you, and everyone else just disappears into the background.

With our move to Australia getting ever closer, my wife had suggested that my friend John, with whom I have enjoyed many of the meals reviewed here on Gaztronomy, and I should have a Gourmet weekend together and have a huge blowout at a top restaurant somewhere.

We decided that Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons would be a suitable place for this event and so we booked rooms at the Oxford Belfry, a hotel ten minutes down the road from the restaurant.

After confirming our booking we were shown into the lounge where where were given the menus to peruse. We both chose the ten course Menu Decouverte, I had the vegetarian one, John had the standard menu. I will describe the vegetarian dishes here, but suffice to say John enjoyed the standard dishes just as much as I enjoyed the meat free ones.

After some hors d'ouevres and a brief chat with the sommelier who we left to choose the wines for us, we were shown to our table and shortly after the first course arrived.

This was a potato a black truffle soup, which was a great way to start. After this came a cheese soufflé which was just about perfect. No, it was better than that, as somehow they managed to get a ball of melted cheese into the middle of the soufflé, rather like a cheesy version of a chocolate fondant.

Next up was a leek and Jerusalem artichoke salad. The vegetables at Le Manoir are always so fresh and tasty, and this salad was no exception.

It was good to see that the vegetarian menu was pretty much completely different to the one I had the previous time I went. Sure, there was a risotto and pasta, but both were different to last time, with different vegetables, oh and plenty of truffles! The only dish that was the same was the roasted sweet Romano perpper with tabbouleh, although it was presented slightly differently.

Once the various mains had finished, we treated ourselves to a cheese course, with some spectacular cheeses and then we went on to desserts.

The first of the desserts was Kaffir lime leaf and coconut tapioca with passion fruit and banana sorbet. This was a million miles away from the tapioca you remember from old school dinners and tasted wonderful.

The next dish was described as “Tiramisu Flavours”. This was what I can only describe as a deconstructed version of the famous Italian dessert as all the tastes were there but it was presented quite spectacularly as you can see from the picture.

Finally (sadly) the final dish, a chocolate mousse with lemon butterscotch sauce and almond milk cream glacée was delivered to the table. It was lovely, but the milk cream glacée really stood out – it was lovely.

A coffee and petit fours later and it was all over. We both agreed that the meal was fantastic, the sommelier did a superb job matching the wines to the various courses and the service was excellent and very friendly which all added up to a great afternoon.

We then took some time to wander around the gardens before our taxi arrived to ferry us away.

No comments: