So, I love food and not in a “yeah I like food” kinda way, I mean I really LOVE food. So when I recently celebrated five years at Neo PR, a food related gift was an obvious choice. However, I did not expect such a generous voucher for Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire. I nearly squealed with excitement, in actual fact I did kiss my MD I was so happy.
As you pull in through the Le Manoir gates and into the car park you are welcomed by the stunning flower lined walkway up to the main house – which played host to a perfect picture opportunity. On arrival we were welcomed and guided through to a sitting room where we were handed some delicious canapés and ordered a bottle of my favourite champagne, Laurent-Perrier Rosé – which I had to drink alone as Joss was driving *hiccup*.
We chose to enjoy the six course tasting menu so was shown through a delicately decorated restaurant where we sat on a perfectly placed table by the window. I don’t know if it was the two glasses of champagne or how elegant the venue made you feel but I was already wanting to return, and we hadn’t even started lunch yet. Then the bread arrived and I was sold!
After I got over the huge array of bread on offer – including beer and mash potato – the first course was served. We were treated to a delicious wild garlic and pea soup with a perfectly cooked single stem of asparagus. It was possibly the best soup I have ever tasted!
Next up was Confit Cornish hake, red pepper fondue, parsley, chorizo beignet and octopus. I never used to be a huge fish fan but have recently expanded my palate and started eating more and more seafood. I am glad I decided to go for this as the Cornish Hake was cooked to perfection and just melted in your mouth. The Chorizo was also a very clever side to accompany the Hake and the flavours went together exceptionally well. It was also the prettiest course on the menu, sporting a huge variety of bright colours, so I loved it!
Course number three arrived in the form of a perfectly cooked free-range hen’s egg, watercress, Jabugo ham and toasted hazelnuts. I really enjoyed this course as it was light enough to prepare us for the next course but didn’t leave me feeling like I needed more. I also really enjoyed the softness of the egg and watercress against the crunchiness of the hazelnuts.
“The main course” was roasted spiced Norfolk quail, white asparagus, fresh peas and broad beans, cinnamon and dates. I had never had quail before so this was a first for me. It wasn’t bad by any means and I am sure it was a sure favourite for many others, but for some reason I just wasn’t a fan. It didn’t stop me finishing the plate, but it wasn’t my favourite course on the menu.
Then came the desserts. A milk chocolate and Earl Grey tea crumble with banana and passion fruit sorbet and a pink rhubarb and lemon mousseux, with seasonal strawberries. Now in the interest of honesty, the desserts were not as good as the first three courses. They were delicious and the flavours complimented each other extremely well, but they just didn’t float my boat. The pink rhubarb and lemon mousseux was so pretty though, I didn’t want to eat it purely for that reason. But of course I did.
Overall the day was perfect. The location was beautiful, the food was delicious, the champagne was perfection and the service was absolutely impeccable. I will certainly return – maybe next time I can convince Joss to let us stay over – and I hope you all get a chance to visit at some point, maybe for a special occasion? It would make a perfect location to mark a significant birthday or anniversary.