If you like über charming hotels where you can sit beside the fireplace drinking tea all day before taking a stroll in Japanese gardens, you’re in for a treat with this gorgeous hotel. Belmond Le Manoir is easily my favourite hotel-restaurant in England- it has everything: charm, sophistication, wonderful food and lots to do while there.
I’d decided to invite two dear friends of mine, Elizabeth and Renee, here for my belated-birthday. Little did we all know though what was in store for us before we got here! By the time we had arrived, we had unintentionally abandoned Renee twice, first because of getting stuck in traffic for one hour while she waited for us at the train station, and second when Elizabeth and I were late getting out of the train (Renee wasn’t) to our station and the doors closed and the train left her in the middle of the English Countryside, i.e. nowhere while we were headed for another station many miles away (all the passengers in the train were laughing with us when it happened). A wonderful taxi finally reunited us after all the craziness.
When we arrived, the kitchen was closed so we started with some snacks by the fireplace: delicious sandwiches, drinks, and bread and crackers with the cheese cake (literally) I’d ordered in advance from one of my favourite cheesemongers (read more about it here). Yes it is actually 100% cheese! As we’re all cheese-lovers it worked perfectly.
After snacks we decided to take a walk in the gorgeous gardens of the hotel. It is so dreamy at Le Manoir, with coloured flowers everywhere, ivy on the buildings and secret-garden esque gates. It had been pouring rain, (typical English weather!) but the hotel kindly lent us theirs (as much as I loved how the brown complimented my jacket I did give it back! ;P).
It turns out, umbrellas are a surprisingly good addition to photos. We must have taken hundreds outside the hotel, laughing and trying different poses with them, before finally moving on.
Finally, after more drinks under the pavilion and a lot more pictures, we went back inside the hotel for dinner. We were seated back at our favourite spot by the fireplace and given these lovely canapés to try before we were ushered inside the restaurant. I liked the one on the far left: with cream, herring, and if I’m remembering properly, dill, but I have to warn my fellow future guests in advance to avoid the aubergine one- bottom second left (thank me later!).
(Shoutout to Elizabeth for best food photography)
After being served a surprisingly tasty fish appetizer, our hors d’oeuvres arrived, and at the right time too. I had ordered the salade de langoustines (shrimp, for anyone wondering), which came with bronze fennel and anise hysop. I don’t normally like anise but it complimented the dish perfectly, and I loved the addition of truffles (guilty truffle lover). The flavours were really interesting and it was altogether a really lovely meal.
Renee and Elizabeth had ordered the risotto aux légumes de printemps (with tomato essense and chervil cream) and that looked absolutely delicious too!
The Aberdeen Angus Beef had seemed appealing while we were choosing our meals but trusting Renee’s judgement I chose Venison like her and the beef was forgotten. It’s hard to find a restaurant that does Venison really well but Belmond Le Manoir is one of the very few who nailed it completely. This hotel does deserve the two Michelin stars it’s been awarded: the food is extremely good quality, the ambiance is perfect, service is faultless- 20/10- and each dish leaves you excited for the next one.
The Venison came with truffle and celeraic and they were superb compliments to the dish. I know I might be biased because I love truffles with everything but there really was a richness in this meal which made it especially memorable.
Elizabeth had chosen the roasted veal kidneys, which came with alliums and red wine jus. It is a dish that makes you want to choose two mains, however much that might be for your stomach. The meat is cooked perfectly, and again, so complimentary (that word again but it’s true!).
I have to say I can’t recommend this place enough, whether for celebrations or casual lunches and snacks. This post isn’t in any way sponsored, I’m just raving about it because it really is that good a place. C’est parfait!