Restaurant Review: Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire
Raymond Blanc is one of the most celebrated chefs residing in the UK, and whilst his television programmes are incredibly popular, it is restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons that is the Frenchman’s most famous asset. Pulling up at the hotel’s gravel drive is a transportation from one world to another. The hotel’s beautiful décor and tranquil atmosphere is a million miles away from oppression of the London streets we’ve been traipsing through all day.
When we step inside and are taken to our room we find it impossible not to lose touch with reality, and instead be immersed in the perfect creation Le Manoir has spent over three decades developing. The rooms and suites at Le Manoir are individually designed to the highest specifications, engulfing residents in opulent luxury unparalleled in any other countryside hotel getaways the length and breadth of the land. Each of the 32 domiciles has passed the scrupulous eye of Raymond himself, and has succeeded in achieving the meticulous standards of perfection that the great man sets himself in the kitchen.
Our room is called Jade, and is described by the excellent guide accompanying us to our door as being inspired by Raymond’s travels to the Far East. Dark hardwood floors and furniture are set immaculately into a jade green background, giving the suite a classically chic, yet still cosy and intimate feel. A seating area complete with a stylish dining table, coffee table, sofas and electric fireplace is backed onto by an open-plan bedroom, decorated faultlessly with stylish simplicity. It’s hard not to be awed by the regal impression the Jade suite leaves upon you.
But before we’re entwined into the hedonistic escapism the Jade suite is conjuring before our eyes we remember why we’re here, and that’s to dine at Le Manoir’s two Michelin starred restaurant, commonly accepted as the best hotel restaurant in the UK.
After a short detour to the hotel bar we make our way through to the imperious dining room where Monsieur Blanc has wowed so many guests for the past three and a half decades. As we sit down all the hype has us in two minds about what’s were about to have laid before us. The question is, will the constant barrage of superlatives we’ve been koshed with for the preceding weeks take the edge off sampling the reality? After all, if you’re expecting culinary perfection you’re left with little room to be pleasantly surprised, let alone impressed. However, any reservations or worries that we’re about to be disappointed that might have been lingering at the back of our minds are instantly put to bed, as one mouthful of Le Manoir’s cuisine is enough to let you that the accolades and acclaim the restaurant has garnered over the years haven’t been for no reason.
All of the six courses of food and wine we opt for are divine, from a duck foie gras with quince and gingerbread beginning through to a deconstructed tiramisu finale every course is sparklingly mouth-watering from first bite to last. The restaurant staff were fantastic in guiding us through each course and the accompanying wines, selected for us by Le Manoir’s expert sommeliers.
Every part of cullinary experience matching the quality of the food that kept coming from the kitchen. As we left the restaurant and sauntered back to our suite awed by everything that we’d shared over the past hours, and collapsed into bed more satisfied from an evening of dining than either of us could remember.
After a fabulous breakfast the following morning we venture out for a morning stroll through Le Manoir’s exquisite gardens. Crisp air makes for a delightfully refreshing change to the overbearing clamour of the City, and just an hour meandering through multi-coloured borders and woodland terrain any lingering thoughts of the usual weekday grind are long gone. But back to the grind is where have to go, because our stay has come to an end all too soon.
Address: Church Road, Great Milton, Oxford, OX44 7PD, UK