I’m not a girl who is easily impressed. I’ve eaten some seriously good food, especially in the Dordogne. I have spent years eating in some of the top French restaurants. So when my friend Gill told me about the Menu Decouvert at Le Manoir it sounded to me a little like how I imagine heaven will be like - 9 courses ! I called four weeks in advance in August to book in good time for or 10 year wedding anniversary and to look for inspiration for flavours in Prepped. Where else to find inspiration than at the table of a master? I was gently told by the receptionist that the soonest I could reserve a table for was November. As it was we went to Le brassiere Blanc instead where we were lucky enough to meet Raymond Blanc… but that is another story! I booked for November 27th – My birthday weekend as it happened.
Finally the big day arrived.
We arrived at 12.30pm. It was freezing cold. My first view of Le Manoir immediately made me want to go inside, whether we had a reservation or not! The honey colored stone and the path draw you in to an atmosphere that felt like coming home. Huge Log fires crackled in the grates and easy relaxed staff had us sipping champagne in warm comfortable surroundings within minutes. The canapés were just the start of what was to follow. Each created as a morsel of perfection. I’m not going to break down the meal mouthful by mouthful. Not because it doesn’t deserve it … but because it is enough for me to say that I have never eaten a meal like it. Every crumb was perfection. Each mouthful was a delight and I have never been so captivated by balance in texture and flavour before. The whole meal was extraordinary. I could not find a single fault. Trust me I was looking! Not a smudge on a glass, not a grain of seasoning out, nothing, and I mean nothing whatsoever, was not prefect.
At the end of the meal I was lucky enough to be invited to take a tour of the kitchens where Gary Jones, the executive head chef introduced me to his team of chefs and talked both my husband and I through the most fabulously organised and well deigned kitchen I have ever seen. There was order. The calm professional operation of the front of house extended all the way to the engine. The kitchen purred like a well-tuned engine. It was the end of service and the staff were getting ready for the evening shift, but you could see that when the pressure mounted the kitchen would simple change gear but it would remain smooth. This is a chef lead restaurant. There was order calmness and perfection throughout.