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Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons


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The cynical among us might think that only offering a tasting menu makes life a lot easier for the kitchen (ever wondered why kitchens insist on the whole table having the same food if you are a large table) and cuts down on waste rather than simply improving the experience for the diner, although this can be the effect of a more focused kitchen.

How many ten course tasting menus do you find that are lighter than 3 course a la carte :hmmm:

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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from the website....

Menu Gourmand

This will go on to feature a 'crème de la crème’; my classics and best loved dishes; so you will never be disappointed

Menu Découverte (Discovery Menu)

More and more of our guests want the total experience, to be delighted, to feel a sense of adventure that simply can’t be achieved by the usual three-course meal, no matter how beautifully prepared – and to be entertained. Today’s guests also want to do away with the protocol of old fashioned grande cuisine and eat in a less formal environment – having fun has always got to be on the menu.

Seasonal Specialities à la Carte

We are remodelling the existing à la carte menu to create a shorter list of specialities (starters, main courses and desserts). Combining a hearty, rustic note that reflects my own roots, along with dishes that exemplify the elegant, interesting and sometimes surprising fl avours for which we are celebrated.

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  • 1 year later...

Here's a report of my visit to the cookery school (I started of as "bluewine" but forgot my password): click here. Anyway, although it was quite some time ago but I still fondly remember the experience & still use many of the techniques picked up that week. That was a present but I've never been quite able to save up the money to go back.

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  • 7 months later...

it's a twenty quid cab into Oxford so you may as well camp out there for the weekend (although not sure how it works if you are driving an boozing. There are very infrequent buses from carfax to great Milton)

The big hotels in town are old bank, malmaison and Randolph though I'm sure there are cheaper places.

Ta

J

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for the recommendations - in return, my thoughts:

first, the gardens are magnificent - we strolled through them before dinner and were impressed by the range of veg and fruit being grown outside and in polytunnels and by the wide variety and great condition of the crops. This was certainly reflected in the veg components of the dinner which were simple, sweet and fresh and un-mucked about with

we had the menu decouverte, which was described as 10 courses but we only counted 8 or 9 (one dessert had two components so not sure if this was intended to be 1 or 2)

good things - clear flavours, a fantastic lamb dish with pink french trimmed chops, slow cooked ?chump and frisky sweetbreads with simple but perfect pan juices and garden vegetable accompaniments - sparklingly accomplished and confident; great gingerbread puree accompaniment to a foie gras terrine; well informed and friendly but non-oleagenous staff; a sea bream in bonito broth which combined pure flavours with a deeply comforting and healing quality

less good things - continual upselling of drinks, dessert wine, cheese etc - a tad heavy handed; taxi service called by the restaurant to take us back to the hotel (Belfry - less than 5 minutes drive) was £12 - actual fare probably about £3 worth max - but clearly used to scalping the clientele of Le Manoir

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  • 5 months later...

For some strange reason this place does not get seem to get much attention these days.

Considering its stardom(**) and celebrity chef,very few posts on here.

Is it something to do with the astonishingly high pricing or, is it just that foodies are giving it a wide berth in favour of say The Fat Duck.

I wonder how they are coping given the current climate,and especially the big drop in tourism?

I somehow don't see Monsieur Blanc creating a credit crunch lunch.

Any reports please?

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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...Far too expensive ...

...none of theMichelin places are 'cheap'.. in the UK or on the continent ,but why-oh-why do we put up with these prices in this country?

Was invited by my (wealthy) brother and Mrs and the bill was astronomical...thank the lord I wasnt paying..

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...Far too expensive ...

...none of theMichelin places are 'cheap'.. in the UK or on the continent ,but why-oh-why do we put up with these prices in this country?

Was invited by my (wealthy) brother and Mrs and the bill was astronomical...thank the lord I wasnt paying..

When you say none of the Michelin places are cheap I think that is a little unfair, there are plenty of one stars at what I would consider a reasonable price.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Cheaper in UK than France - £120 (?) Tasting at the Fat Duck vs. 500 euros at the (now unfortunately closed) Auberge de L'Eridan or 400 and something at l'Arpege. Neither including wine.

In the UK the price is more closely linked to the value of what you are eating. In France you also pay for the Michelin brand.

My experiences alone (not that I got to visit any of the aforementioned restaurants).

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...Far too expensive ...

...none of theMichelin places are 'cheap'.. in the UK or on the continent ,but why-oh-why do we put up with these prices in this country?

Was invited by my (wealthy) brother and Mrs and the bill was astronomical...thank the lord I wasnt paying..

To the man in the street it must seem obscene to pay £32 for a starter,£41 for a main and a mind boggling £21 for a dessert!

Never mind £116 for the tasting menu.

Plus!!! perhaps 12.5% service charge.

I was a fairly regular visitor in the early nineties when prices were still high but more user friendly

I can now quite happily reflect on those memories, thankful, that I, perhaps had the best of Monsieur Blanc's cooking without it costing me an arm and a leg!

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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I don't feel that all michelin restaurants in the UK are out to fleece their customers, especially the smaller places that just go about their business. Folk have to realise good ingredients etc cost, there are very few bargains to be had. As far as Im concerned you don't visit a michelin restaurant for a spot of tea. Dinner for you southerners!! I do feel the practice of service charges is out of control, which pumps up a bill but thats another story.

That said there are some eye wateringly expensive restaurants in this country, which franky take liberties. There is one restaurant I know of that still thinks it acceptable to charge £95 for a four course meal,(not inc wine) which also carries menu supplements on top of this. Is it a one star, two star, three star perhaps? No, two rosettes. How can these prices be justified? A little like Fred the shred recieveing £12,000 a week in pension, despite running up the biggest losses in history!(sorry for political slant but seemed relevant!) :wink:

I'm not in a hurry to rush back to Paris anytime soon, christ that was expensive. I realise the euro etc has to be taken into consideration but for me Paris makes London feel cheap!

As for Le manior, I've been once and yes I think you have to take a deep breath before looking at the bill. Is it worth it, not really sure. Obviously Blancs overheads will be huge but again one could argue is the price relative to the experience. For what its worth I enjoyed myself and would much rather pay here than the aforementioned restaurants.

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To the man in the street it must seem obscene to pay £32 for a starter,£41 for a main and a mind boggling £21 for a dessert!

You can get a pretty decent Michelin one starred meal for £60 a head (including some booze). That seems like a better investment than £50 to watch premier league football, or a night out at Mama Mia (without booze). OK higher quality is higher priced but is it really out of kilter with alternative types of entertainment? A six nations ticket/package, a night at the opera, or top price tickets to someone like Steisand.

Compared to Europe the UK is now a bargain. Even Spain is going to stretch the budget, isn't El Bulli

€180 without wine, in Paris my last lunch at Le Cinq was €85 for the cheap menu (after wine etc we got to close to €400 for two), and mid range places are in the €160 for two range.

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To the man in the street it must seem obscene to pay £32 for a starter,£41 for a main and a mind boggling £21 for a dessert!

You can get a pretty decent Michelin one starred meal for £60 a head (including some booze). That seems like a better investment than £50 to watch premier league football, or a night out at Mama Mia (without booze). OK higher quality is higher priced but is it really out of kilter with alternative types of entertainment? A six nations ticket/package, a night at the opera, or top price tickets to someone like Steisand.

Compared to Europe the UK is now a bargain. Even Spain is going to stretch the budget, isn't El Bulli

€180 without wine, in Paris my last lunch at Le Cinq was €85 for the cheap menu (after wine etc we got to close to €400 for two), and mid range places are in the €160 for two range.

Of the five michelin star meals that I have had this year,four of them have three course dinner menus sub £40.Very good value indeed.

A further meal at Corrigans had the most expensive main course listed at £26,still way cheaper than the cheapest starter at Le Manoir.

There is some extraordinary value out there, its just not in Great Milton.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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The alc prices at le manoir are within the bounds of reason for the type. They are comparable/slightly cheaper to the Waterside, which sounds about right even their comparative stature. The degustation (116/95) is a little on the steep side and is probably a big money spinner given, in my experience, a lot of the diners go for the tasting menu. The set lunch (49) is expensive for its type. When I first went it was 28 quid and one of the finest bargains in the land. Since then the price has steepled precipitously - cf how the price for a set lunch in London has remained around the 25-35 mark. That's competition for you. But as people have pointed out it is still a snip compared to **s in France. Particularly at current exchange rates.

The main criticism of le manoir is that long ago it deteriorated a sort of theme park of well-padded home counties matrons and highly paid american expats. Viz the chintzy range of xmas, new year type special weekend programs (sometimes with prices rising into four figures). The food itself I find relatively uninspiring; the combinations are relatively traditional and portions have always been pretty miserly (the prices don't make it feel any better). Someone I met in the trade once called it a "pleasure palace" which pretty much sums it up - corporate theme park rather than chef-patron owned hotel. Viz the helipad.

The epitome of this was a few years back when they tried to abandon the alc and just offer the degustation menu. They dressed this up as offering the diners the chance to sample the best of RBs cuisine when it was a pretty transparent attempt to shift everyone onto a production line high-margin-low-wastage menu. Thankfully they saw sense. Note on the corporateness think there have been several changes of ownership. Think sold out to Richard Branson at one point and then he in turn sold out a while ago. RB still involved but there are other owners too.

Which is not to say I hate the place. I have had some thrilling meals here in the past - I particularly remember a dish of roast suckling pig with apricots from the lunchtime set which was one of my earliest haute cuisine experiences. But now I think its a place which has rested on it laurels. It reminds me of last year when I bookended skiing with trips to Bocuse and Troisgros. Bocuse had ossified as he rested on his laurels. Pretty but corporate. Troisgros was a grand classic which had moved with the times and modernised, but still retained some soul. Le Manoir reminds me of Bocuse.

J

PS On a slightly unrelated note I was interested to see Raymond Blancs first wife (the one who started the Maison Blanc cake shops) was completely airbrushed out of the autobio he was flogging at xmas time. Bad show. (they again I noticed his face appeared on maison blanc branded chilled puds they are selling in waitrose, so perhaps things have thawed somewhat).

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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That said there are some eye wateringly expensive restaurants in this country, which franky take liberties. There is one restaurant  I know of that still thinks it acceptable to charge £95 for a four course meal,(not inc wine) which also carries menu supplements on top of this. Is it a one star, two star, three star perhaps? No, two rosettes. How can these prices be justified?

My mate enjoyed it! you never know if it stabilises this year it might get a star....

you don't win friends with salad

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  • 2 months later...

I never posted up my experiences about Le Manoir. Shame on me, let me belatedly cast my mind back...

I was down there for a friend's child's christening. A small affair - about twenty close friends and family - which was held in a private dining room which sat seperately to the main proerty and had french windows off the dining room into a private lawned garden. We struck lucky with a beautiful sunny day.

As an aside I can only say that some people have too much money; if my boys ever got christened it would be limp white bread sandwiches and trestle tables at Glossop labour club. Actually I might simply wait until they're old enough to settle the bar tab.

Anyway, I must admit I went there in a cynical frame of mind. I knew it wasn't going to be shite with two Michelin stars, but maybe I expected it all to be a bit brand-Blanc and feel like a glorified gastronomic theme park.

The room, indeed the entire place, was beautiful. The formal gardens were gorgeous, and the standard of finish and fixtures, art and furniture, in the main accomodation and restaurant was genuinely a good few notches up from what I've experienced at the usual one star country house suspects.

I can almost see why the average room rate is about £800 a night...

The food was actually very, very good indeed. memory is a bit hazy now but I remember the bread was spectacular (especially the potato bread where the dough was dense and the crust smelt like baked potato skins). The amuse bouche passed me by but the risotto of garden veg was a delight. So light and silky with crisp little nuggets of courgette etc dotted through it. Reminded me of one I once had at The Weaver's Shed in Golcar actually.

The main course was the humdinger though. A thick slab of Aberdeen Angus beef fillet, cooked rare, complete with the usual veg, silky pomme puree and red wine reduction with smoky morels. The beef itself was a revalation. I'm not sure if Raymond is into his sous-viding but it's the only way I think he could have got such a thin but seared crust on what was otherwise a flawlessly even pink and tender inch thick chunk of meat. There was no graduation at all, just crisp sear (maillard-a-go-go) and soft, melt in the mouth flesh.

Yummy.

Dessert was, a rather fine fruit-cake made by the cousin of my friend (the restaurant were happy to serve it). Coffees and petit four outside on the terrace were spot on. Service throughout was silkily efficient and altogether wonderful. The single child present (ours had been palmed off on their grandma) had a fine old time of it with a cheese salad thing constructed to look like a mouse, followed by outstanding fish and chips served wrapped not in newspaper but in an Asterisk comic, which he could then read.

I like attention to detail.

Afterwards we stayed in the garden finishing the champagne and other assorted drinks for a good hour or two. On my part the afternoon quickly descended into competitive croquet (with rules of our own making - half golf, half marbles) with my friends other half (we were level at two games all but I had the momentum) but I remember the whole affair feeling unhurried and relaxed which was delightful.

Raymond even came out and said hello and shook everyone's hand. he brought a teddy for baby Olivier too.

All in all the warmth, honesty and the level of execution in both food and service in the place caught me off guard. I had expected complacency or laurel resting, but whilst I appreciate this is not pulling up gastronomic trees it is certainly a fantastic operation and made for a very pleasurable day. I would return under my own steam, if only the pricing wasn't quite so excruciating.

Cheers

Thom

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been driving past Le Manoir for the last 10 years. Because I live close by, I've never wanted to dine there. BAsically, I think it has lost a bit of the draw from living so close to it.

It's a shame, as I'd jump at the chance to eat at a similar restaurant if I was new there..

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  • 1 month later...

We went to the Manoir at the request of mini-PSB to celebrate his 10th birthday (he had specified any 'fancy restaurant'). It was a great success - the children's menu was, surprisingly, a little dull, so we opted to share two tasting menus between the 2 1/2 of us - but mini-PSB did get the egg mayonnaise made to look like a mouse mentioned upthread - which was beautiful. The food was very good - more inventive, and more modern, than some of the recent posts upthread had led me to think. I'm afraid I can't remember very much about it now, as it's over a month ago. The overall impression I retain is of light and very tasty food - no foams, but some unusual combinations. The bread was wonderful, as were the puddings. They were fresh, fruity and summery - just perfect. The staff were very good - they even organised a marzipan snail on the birthday boy's pudding plate - he loves snails and would otherwise have been disappointed that they weren't available.

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We went to the Manoir at the request of mini-PSB to celebrate his 10th birthday (he had specified any 'fancy restaurant').  It was a great success - the children's menu was, surprisingly, a little dull, so we opted to share two tasting menus between the 2 1/2 of us - but mini-PSB did get the egg mayonnaise made to look like a mouse mentioned upthread - which was beautiful.  The food was very good - more inventive, and more modern, than some of the recent  posts upthread had led me to think.  I'm afraid I can't remember very much about it now, as it's over a month ago.  The overall impression I retain is of light and very tasty food - no foams, but some unusual combinations.  The bread was wonderful, as were the puddings.  They were fresh, fruity and summery - just perfect.  The staff were very good - they even organised a marzipan snail on the birthday boy's pudding plate - he loves snails and would otherwise have been disappointed that they weren't available.

God, I wish I had parents like you when I was 10. :laugh:

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