An icon for the French gastronomic-invasion of the UK, courtesy of Monsieur Raymond Blanc (not forgetting Mama Blanc).
Beautiful restaurant, grounds, hotel and an amazing culinary garden (worth a visit in itself)... the definition of attainable haute cuisine in the UK..
Everything works elegantly, from the service to the plate to the palate.
If you have a chance to visit Oxford (and you have wheels - it's out in the sticks), then try to budget this place in. And ask for a tour of the kitchen.... but be careful, you might not won't want to leave..
Le Manoir is a special place - it is beautiful, first of all, and just a treat overall. Our dinner was delicious, from beginning to end, and the service was very nice. Except for one fellow with red hair (?) who made a "confused face" when taking our order. The dishes are written in French, then underneath in smaller print in English, so my friend gave her order in French (reading from the menu.) He knitted his brow and said, "I'm sorry...what is it that you'd like?" He quite proudly let us know that he didn't speak French (which is fine, but it is a French restaurant and the plates are listed in French on the menu...) and that British employees (non-French or French speaking employees) were encouraged because it of the emphasis on local. At the end of the evening, we had a couple of things to sort out with the bill (amongst us) and he brazenly approached asking, "How's the math coming?" Both of these behaviours took us a bit by surprise. He was, in all fairness, the only one who wasn't completely gracious and appropriate - everyone else was lovely. Unfortunately, when recalling this evening, we will remember this fellow, too.
Really unique boutique hotel! The kitchen has its own farms and pretty much self sustainable kitchen. Very impressive!
As I was once a struggling student in Oxford (weren't we all) In those remarkable and adventurous days of reading for degrees, the thought of ever dining at such a remarkable establishment as the 'Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons' would have definately meant far more mugging escapades after dark on Professors none of us really liked. The trouble was, us former 'St Trinian's Triads' (as we were then known) seemed to always pick on the poorest of all our lecherers (eh, sorry....spelling error, Pardon - Lecturers) so this calculated brain wave didn't actually work.
All meaningless waffle, satire and nostalgia aside, I had to actually reach a stage in my life where I could afford, due to 'hard work of course,' to be able...FINALLY, to have the best - and out of all the Oxfordshire Grand Manors that feed the gentry and the 'well to do' - as well as a few, 'I struck it lucky,' peon's - this is the finest by far.
The marvellous grounds surrounding Le Manoir aside - that's another glowing tale other's can deal with, but let's just say, gorgeous rolling downs - it's what was on the plates that I was salivating over - and brothers and sisters, this is cuisine at it's best - as is the impeccable service. All supremely superb to my delicate French toned palate. Only in Paris, my place of residence, do I ever come across anything nearly quite so delicious and refined.
I have also spent several nights sleeping at this marvellous residence, that is to say, when I could escape the delights on the table, naturally. This is plushness 'a la carte' and not one iota or even a hint of anything remotely kitsch. In fact, mention that last word and you'll be fed to the 'Groundsman's Baskervilles' for breakfast.
Don't expect to find a cheap room at this 'not too shabby joint' however. Cheap is not in their dictionary. If you have the money, then they certainly have the time and it's simply 'le mieux.' You'll be treated like a King and the 'once a Knight's enough,' principle just doesn't work here at all, put aside at least a few days for this wondrous experience and of course.....perhaps, someone else's bank vault would be a bonus!
What a delight it was to dine here! We were not super familiar with the area and our GPS took us to Church Road in Wheatley instead of Great Milton but we made it! Upon arrival you are in awe of the beautifully maintained grounds. We arrived during sunset and it could not have been more gorgeous.
This is the first restaurant I have been to where you are first taken to a seating room and served some snacks, a few amuse bouche, and drinks instead of just being taken to your table. They also take your entire order here so once you are seated at your table everything is ready to go.
The sitting rooms and the dining room have an upscale but relaxed ambiance. I wish we came earlier in the day so we could walk and enjoy the beautiful grounds.
I don't recall what our amuse bouche items were but I really liked one of them that was on a thin cracker with a sharp cheesy taste. Complimentary olives and popcorn were provided as well but the popcorn was not too exciting. We started out with a rose and then moved on to a red for dinner. The 2007 Chateau Belgrave we had with our meal was so smooth!
We opted for the 6 course tasting menu but one of us switched the seafood items to vegetarian. My favorite dish was the Summer Vegetable Risotto. So delicious I could have licked that bowl clean. For the Comte Cheese course, you are provided aged cheese, each aged for a different length of time. They provide complimentary wine that really brings out the flavor of the cheeses which is also from the Comte region! Dessert was quite delicious as well.
Overall the service was friendly and efficient. Our waitress was a particularly charming lady but the others on service that night lacked a bit of personality. They provide you a nice print out of your meal and all of its courses so you don't have to ask them what you are eating but they still offer to tell you if you want.
2007 Chateau Belgrave
Terrine of baby beetroot, buffalo mozzarella, horseradish sorbet
Lemon Verbana Marinated Organic Scottish Salmon, Garden Radish, Yuzu Cream
Summer Vegetable Risotto, Sicilian Tomatoes, Mascarpone Cheese
Spiced aubergine, chick peas, Medjool dates, preserved lemon
Cornish Brill, Scallop, Cucumber, and Wasabi
Assiette of Cornish Lamb, Peas, Bacon, and Spring Garlic Puree
A Selection of three Comte Cheeses from Raymond Blanc's native region
Wine from Le Comte
A theme on Strawberry Dessert
Ordered: Tasting Menu
Price: Papa and Mama were too kind for my birthday so I don't know
Review: This place excels in oral, visual, and most importantly a foodie's pleasure. Its difficult to start writing about Raymon Blanc's restaurant having been such an admirer of his passion for food, and most of all, someone who is far more superior than a casual foodie writing about his food. But a review is a review, so here is my attempt. The Garden is impressive ranging from rosemary, carrots, lettuce, grown right behind the restaurant, right through to the pleasantly quiet Japanese Garden tucked away.
The food now...every dish was phenomenally well crafted to say the least, the olive bread, right through to the duck that was so well cooked. If I were to have one point to criticise the restaurant, I felt that compared to other michelin star restarants around the globe. I felt that the service was somewhat lacking. The aura was not quite the same as say a Michelin star in Milan, Rome, Paris, Tokyo, Kyoto. Delightful nonetheless!
If there are Hotels / Restaurants in Heaven then they will be modelled on Le Manoir ... (or possibly the other way round!) it cant be faulted and nothing is left to chance ... If you can get Bed / Breaky / Evening meal for two ...for less than 'a bag of sand' that's 'a grand' ...you've done well!! ....but its worth every penny! get saving!
Whilst its near Oxford you wont want to leave ... so if you want to take in the sights do that first and spend your last day/s at Le Manoir .. that way no matter where you stay / eat in Oxford you will finish on a high at Rays Gaff!!!
Le Manoir is one of our East Oxford team's top 5 places to eat in the area. It is set in beautiful surroundings in Great Milton and has a large garden (which produces the vegetables and herbs for the kitchen). Le Manoir also has 32 bedrooms and offers private dining as well as cookery courses.
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