Being based in east London I don’t often venture down to Clapham, so when I do go I like to make the effort to tick somewhere off my list that’s been on there a while patiently waiting to be tried.
The Manor is run by the same team as The Dairy (which I’ve also been meaning to tick off my list for ages) and was one of the first places I put on my list when I moved to London three years ago. I’d heard such great reviews so I couldn’t wait to go and try it for myself.
We went for our anniversary for the Laurent Perrier Summer Tasting Menu which is £55 including a glass of LP, which also happens to be my one of my favourite champagnes so it was off to a good start!
The interior at The Manor is rustic, cosy and homely with wooden tables and exposed walls. I loved the fact that there was so any different people there and nothing felt stuffy. There were couples dressed up for first dates, friends in jeans, business people in suits for post-work drinks and everything in between; a real cross-section of Londoners where no-one looked out of place.
Alongside our champagne came a plate of snacks – salted cucumber with pureed chickpeas and toasted seeds. It was a refreshing and light bite to start the meal.
Next up was a selection of chicken-themed bites. A chicken butter served on a pebble with rye sourdough, a chicken liver mousse, crispy chicken skins and a pork and fennel salumi. (Nb. I didn’t know what Salumi was, it appears that salumi is the umbrella term for dry-cured, salted meats and salami is a type of salumi). I loved the salumi, it was jaw-achingly chewy and solid with a strong fennel flavour. The crispy chicken skins came with a kimchi which was tangy, sharp and cut through the fattiness of the chicken skins and butter/mousse well. The chicken liver mousse was the bit I was least looking forward to as I’m not a fan of strong liver flavour but it was lovely and silky and turned out to be one of my favourite bits of this course.
After we’d finished our glasses of champagne, we asked the waitress to recommend a wine for us. She was so knowledgeable (not just about the wine but throughout the whole evening) and recommended a great white from Italy which was dry and fruity but not too acidic.
Next was the first plated course – Brixham crab with apple, sorrel and peanut. The crab meat was piled on one side, next to some strips of green apple and peanut sauce. The peanut sauce was creamier than I’d expected and was the strongest flavour on the plate, but I really enjoyed this dish. I loved the rock/plate that this was served on too.
Our next course was probably my least favourite. It was smoked Ivy House curds, beetroot and sprouted buckwheat. The whole dish tasted very earthy and I wasn’t a lover of the curds. I think it was more preference and it was still tasty, but not one I’d choose to have again.
The next course didn’t sound too exciting and if I’m honest it doesn’t look tasty but it really was! This course was “Lady Hamilton” pollock with a sorrel emulsion, new potatoes and cultured cream. The fish was flaky and the sorrel emulsion was strong. I’m not sure the random crisp added much but I ate it all the same!
For the next course, you had two choices, we both chose the “best end of yearling” lamb which came with an olive puree, the inside of a courgette with lemon and pumpkin seeds. One piece was a very tender lamb steak, the other piece was a fatty square of meat – almost like a pork belly but lamb. Both were delicious and though it didn’t look very appealing the olive puree was a great idea and was very powerful.
Despite starting to get full, we added in the extra cheese course for a very reasonable £4 each. We each chose a different cheese so that we could try both. One was The Manor’s own cow’s milk cheese, which had a slightly odd spongy texture, the other was a blue cheese which I much preferred. Both came with seeded oat crackers and a seedy chutney. I enjoyed it overall but felt that it could have done with a fruit or onion chutney. The seed cracker with the seedy chutney meant that it all felt a bit too seed-heavy and dry for me, but then I do love fruit with cheese so maybe that’s personal preference.
Though we didn’t choose to add the drinks pairing with the whole menu, I did want to try the port that they had on the menu to be paired with the cheese course, so we added a glass of that for £9 each. It was delicious and I have no regrets, other than I was a bit drunk by the time we got to dessert!
There was a melon palate cleanser which was refreshing and then it was on to dessert – my favourite part of any meal.
Dessert was a chocolate mousse, fennel ice cream, molasses and a small piece of white chocolate semi-freddo type thing (it didn’t mention the white chocolate on the menu and the waitress wasn’t quite sure what it was). I return just for this dessert! The fennel ice cream was pungent and punchy but surprisingly good. The chocolate mousse was rich and smooth – I could eat that every day!
The mini banana breads with chestnut flour and figs were a lovely final touch and were light enough not to tip me over the edge after an intense session of eating and drinking!
I loved the whole experience at The Manor particularly the lack of pretence and focus on fresh simple foods. I get the feeling that as much as possible is locally sourced and it’s nice to see proper British ingredients used so imaginatively. I would whole-heartedly recommend a visit to The Manor.
Price: ££ (tasting menu £55 each, port £18, wine around £35 and cheese course £9).
Nearest station: Clapham Common