Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons


I like birthdays.  Especially when they involve treats you don’t normally get to have.  A particular recent treat was my visit to Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons for lunch.  A girly affair, my mum and I arrived (on a rather glorious sunny day) at the restaurant’s Oxfordshire abode and we were excited for what lay ahead that afternoon.
Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons - Gardens
The sincerest of welcomes upon arrival made us feel instantly at home and with good weather that day, we enjoyed refreshing elderflower presse drinks and canapes in the garden before being invited into the restaurant to dine.
Canapes in the Garden
We decided to opt for the 5 course luncheon tasting menu – my mum having the meat version and myself having the vegetarian option.    Each course was introduced and described to us by our table waiter before being brought out and with each course, we were offered rolls from the bread basket.  The bread basket alone was worth going for, a range of home-made rolls were available -  from ciabattas to more elaborate creations such as the rather addictive beer & potato buns.  Indeed, my mother continues to talk about the tomato bread to this day.
Honouring my request for a totally vegetarian menu and my own vegetarian specifications, my menu consisted of: 

·           Chilled Tomato Gazpacho, Olive & Basil.

·           Terrine of Garden Beetroot, Horseradish Sorbet

·           Agnolotti of Goat's Cheese, Honey, Artichokes, Olives

·           Risotto of Summer Vegetables, tomato, Chervil cream

·           Blackcurrant and Tahiti Vanilla Soft Meringue
The menu was well crafted, using seasonal goods from the Le Manoir garden.  It offered a variety of flavours and combinations and I felt that vegetarians were very much catered for and the menu not compromised or compiled with minimal effort just to pacify a vegetarian audience.  It was truly excellent.
Being the Birthday Girl (admittedly advising them of that beforehand), I had a gorgeous little petit four platter brought out to me with a ‘Happy Birthday’ message on it and a little candle which was an adorable touch and much appreciated.  In fact, talking to other diners afterwards, so many were also celebrating birthdays and just like me, ‘big’ birthdays!  Clearly, an endorsement that it is a popular place for celebration and I can understand why.
One lovely gesture that I received at the end of my meal was an autographed menu from Monsieur Blanc himself and which was literally a joy to receive and gave me a wonderful keep-sake of my afternoon.
Lavender in the Garden

Post-lunch, taking a map from Reception and changing in our comfy shoes, Mum and I took a walk around the grounds and to the gardens that accompany the Manoir.  Extremely well-tended to, a team of gardeners are in-situ, working on ensuring everything is impeccable.  The walking route takes in the herb garden and fruit/vegetable plots, the produce from which is used in the kitchens for meals.  Some of the other attractions are the lavender walkways and Japanese garden which was inspired by Raymond’s time in Japan a few years ago.
Stoneware in the Garden

Overall, the attention to detail was immaculate, staff were totally accommodating and went the extra mile ensuring our comfort and enjoyment were of paramount importance.   The atmosphere was elegant with the right level of formality but was not pretentious or uncomfortable.
Le Manoir Garden
Especially for celebratory occasions, I would wholeheartedly recommend Le Manoir.  We both came away with fond memories feeling we had experienced something special.  I would relish the chance to return again, perhaps to stay over this time - now that really would be a treat!














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