Le Manoir was my late wife's favourite restaurant/hotel in the whole world. We were both enchanted by the place.
The rooms were immaculate, beautifully laid out and spotlessly clean, and we only stayed at the lowest 2 category rooms. They were spacious with excellent facilities, and comfortable beds. Each room was a treat and a joy to stay in. Everything was perfect. Marriage Friere breakfast tea is now a firm favourite. Le Manoir was the last place I took my wife, before she passed away after a long debilitating illness.
We met Raymond Blanc on a couple of occasions. What a charming man. Attentive, polite and courteous he was everything we had hoped for and more.
When I returned, for lunch, in Jan 2013 with my new partner, my expectations were very high. It was her very first visit.
The staff who greeted us were extremely professional, and helpful.
The lounges are immaculately presented. Guests are asked to present themselves 15 minutes before the booking time. During this time we can relax and have an aperitif. There are a plethora of organisational issues which would warrant a top class restaurant, such as this, asking it's clientele to turn up 15 mins before the table booking, and not just to optimise the marketing opportunity to sell more booze, as stated in another review!. Top quality food takes time to prepare. However, we were left alone for 10 of those 15 minutes before a waiter came to ask us what we wanted to drink, and present us with the menus and wine list. Still I can't think of many better places to be kept waiting!
Our order was taken at the exact time we had booked the table.....hmmm! No matter. 15 mins after the time I'd booked the table we were escorted to a table in the conservatory, one of the best tables in the house. The service was superb.
The food.......... I/we have not had occasion to comment adversely on the food during my 5 previous visits over a four year period. In fact the food and construction of the menus on offer has been exemplary. But, unfortunately, for the first time, on Jan 4th that was not the case. Each individual dish, as a stand alone course, was excellent, but when I order a fixed 5 course table d'hôte menu I do not expect the first 2 courses to be presented with horseradish! I expect some thought to have gone into how each individual dish fits together so that the menu delivers a variety of textures, tastes and visual experiences.
Horseradish is such a powerful ingredient. Tt can overpower the construction of the menu. The beet root and horseradish salad was excellent. The second course, sous vide salmon with horseradish cream was also excellent BUT not one after the other!!!!! The rest of the courses were fine. In fact we had the extra cheese course and when I bemoaned the absence of Chef Raymond's favourite cheese - Comte, on the board the waiter went off and returned with a plate of 3 different Comte cheese - 5, 10 & 15 yr. old, a "vertical tasting" superb! I've never had 10 or 15 yr. old Comte before, a treat.
I'm really pleased to see that Michelin 2 star restaurants are no longer expected to iron their table cloths. The one on our table had a deep crease running through the middle. Not as deep as the one on our table at Villa Joya in Albufeira, Portugal, though.
Irrespective of the requirements of Michelin, I think that if a table is dressed with a cloth it should be ironed. This is one of many small details that set a "top of the pile" restaurant above the rest!
We retired to the lounge for coffee, I'm a firm believer that the number of each individual "petit fours" offered should match the number of guests so that each guest can experience all that's on offer. We were presented with one of each. Shame on you!
This place still credits 5/5, but, I was a little disappointed, with the five course menu on offer,this time.
The building, grounds, staff, service and everything else was superb. Even in deep winter the grounds are worth a visit.
I bought Raymond Blanc's latest book as a gift for my partner. I asked. If Raymond Blanc would sign it for her. I was told he was away,on holiday, so I paid extra for the postage, so that he could sign it, and they could post it onto me. It arrived 5 days later, excellent.
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