Our visit to Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons was filled with expectation and anticipation. Would it live up to the many stories and the lavish praise heaped upon it?
I`ll answer that point by point, awarding marks out of ten for each particular element of our stay:
1. The reception
Without fuss we were met in the car park of Le Manoir by a charming chap who escorted us and our luggage to the reception. The welcome was friendly and helpful, the surroundings and public areas sumptuous and cosy. Such a pleasant change to find hotel staff smiling.
The main public areas are a composite of Tudor, 19th and 20th century construction, sympathetically amalgamated to form character filled accommodation.
Marks: Faultless start -10 marks out of 10.
2. The room welcome
We were escorted to our room which was themed in Jack Vettriano garb and adorned with original Vettriano`s worth god knows how much. As a fan of Vettriano`s work this was a huge treat in itself. Laid out on a table was a copy of Raymond Blanc`s latest book (which my wife is devouring as we speak – I have a feeling she has a new found crush on the great man!), a bottle of chilled champagne, chocolates and a selection of fruits (some of the finest clementines I have ever had). After a long drive this was the perfect tonic.
Marks: A very splendid room – 10 marks out of 10.
3. The room
The centre point of the room was a luxurious super king bed which incorporated a pop up TV in the foot board. At a flick of a button the TV would swivel round to face any part of the room. For a gadget fan like myself this was a good half hours worth of playtime and fun! Of course the bathroom incorporated a splash proof TV and a deep bath for soothing away aches and pains – which I made full use of. Not sure I was that keen on the bathroom`s brown marble though. Nonetheless, the room was perfect luxury.
Marks: Almost perfection – 9 marks of out of 10.
4. Pre dinner pit stop
We ambled into the main sitting room for pre dinner drinks and hors d`oeuvres. What a delight this was. Ambient and restful lighting, comfy seating, open fire and a Bloody Mary in hand. Waiters subtly flitted around us making sure we were comfortable and the fuel tanks fully trimmed with alcohol. I guess this sums up Le Manoir in many ways – the attention to detail and the levels of personal service are pitched perfectly. Unlike other high profile chefs, it`s clear that Raymond Blanc`s hand is constantly on the tiller, tweaking, perfecting and evolving.
Marks: Excellent preamble to dinner 10 marks out of 10.
5. The main event – the 9 course taster menu.
Before I go into the food, it`s worth pointing out that I was genuinely impressed by Raymond`s little note next to the menu card:
`I have realised that constant interruptions by the Restaurant team can reduce the enjoyment of your meal, and as such I have decided to place a copy of the menu on the table for you to see what each is, without lengthy explanations.` This was so spot on, and a very pleasant change from the long unrelenting diatribe issued in some other Michelin restaurants we have visited recently. For me this exemplifies the fact that Le Manoir is not hindered by protocol, but focused on customer enjoyment.
On to the dinner. My highlights:
– Pan seared creel-caught Scottish langoustines, tende leeks; truffle dressing.
This had to be one of my all time favourite dishes. It was just perfectly executed, unfussy, delicious food. I did mention to executive chef Gary Jones that I could have easily devoured another couple of helpings, to which I`m sure I saw a knowing glance and smile to my straining midriff!
– Pan-fried wild Cornish line caught sea bass fillet and hand dived `Loch Leven` Scottish scallop, smoked mashed potatoes and star anis sauce.
Delicately cooked sea bass and sweet scallop. Just a perfect combination.
– Exotic fruit `raviole` with kaffir lime leaf and coconut jus.
This was an extraordinary dish. The raviole had the appearance and consistency of a poached egg, with a pasta envelope and bright orange fruit jus inside. A revelation.
It`s no exaggeration to say that this was a meal of the highest order. Delivered with aplomb by attentive, but not over zealous waiters and waitresses. I have since been asked how the food measured up to other restaurants of it`s ilk? Exceedingly well has been my stock answer! I would go as far to say that it really is a travesty that Le Manoir isn`t in possession of a third Michelin star.
After dinner, we were lucky enough to take a tour of the kitchen which was fascinating, right from the washing down of Raymond`s chrome coloured bust! to the tour of the cookery training areas.
Marks: Utterly superb and memorable – 10 out of 10.
Considering that my girth was still straining after the previous night’s taster menu, I surprised even myself to find room for a smoked salmon and scrambled eggs breakfast supported by a variety pastries, bread and cold meats. Perfect.
Mark: A gut busting – 10 out of 10.
All of the staff were incredibly helpful on our visit and you genuinely felt that nothing was too much to ask for, whether it be from the General Manager Phillip Newman-Hall, Executive Chef Gary Jones or any of the other staff on duty during our stay. Unfortunately, Raymond Blanc had broken a leg just prior to our arrival and we at Lussorian wish him a speedy recovery.
If you are looking for a down to earth but fabulously luxurious experience then Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons has be one of the finest places to stay in Britain.
Forthcoming events at Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons
Wednesday 12 May – How to grow your own vegetables with Jane Owen
As chair of the Chelsea Flower Talks Tent, Jane loves to share her passion of gardens through writing, talking and designing.
She present TV programmes, writes the Financial Times` Garden Gear Column and her books include 100 Ways to a Beautiful Garden and the BBC`s Gardens Through Time. In the 1990s Jane was also the co-founder of the Grow Good Food campaign, which helped schools and individuals grow vegetables, regardless of the size of their gardens or horticultural knowledge.
Along with Jane and Le Manoir`s head gardener, Anne Marie Owen, guests will be guided through the kitchen gardens, before a sparkling Champagne Ruinart reception. A three-course lunch inspired by the gardens at Le Manoir will follow, along with selected accompanying wines.
This event is priced at £165 per person and starts at 10am
For more information and reservations please visit Le Manoir website or telephone Le Manoir on 01844 278881
Friday 2 July – An audience with – Jon Snow
Join Jon Snow, the award-winning Channel 4 newsreader, at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons for an entertaining evening where he will share the highs and lows of his highly successful career.
Jon has been a reporter with ITN since 1976 covering news from around the world and reporting from most of the world`s trouble spots. He has been a main anchor for Channel 4 News since 1989, reporting on momentous days like the freeing of Nelson Mandela and the fall of the Berlin Wall. He also interviewed key figures such as Ronald Regan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher and Kofi Anan, to name but a few.
Guests are invited to meet Jon Snow and enjoy a Champagne Ruinart reception on the garden terrace followed by a four-course dinner especially created by Raymond Blanc, accompanied by a selection of wines.
This event is priced at £185 per person and starts at 7.30pm
For more information and reservations please visit Le Manoir or telephone Le Manoir on 01844 278881
Disclosure: For this blog post we were able to gain access to a sample product or service.
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