Having moved North we thought it had been awhile since we’d ventured down to Lawrence’s old haunt of Clapham. With a house warming in the evening it was the perfect opportunity to book into The Manor which we’d heard so much about.
Some of you may know of The Dairy which has been open for many years near Clapham Common but back towards end of 2014 they opened a second venture which was The Manor. Both ventures tend to use the same suppliers so have the same ingredients open to them but have very different creative thoughts on what dishes they serve. Dean Parker is the head chef of The Manor and his CV is quite impressive working having worked at places such as The Ledbury in London.
A bit late to the party but this was our first visit and we were really excited about what we were about to eat. The decor is understated dark and rustic although behind the bar and also in the toilets is a deluge of ‘graffiti’, deliberate vandalism.
We stayed away from the reasonably priced, £45 tasting menu as thought we could get a bit more variety in choosing our own dishes from the A La Carte. Our sharing nibbles were the crispy chicken skins, kimchi & BBQ sauce, very nice flavoured meat pertfectly partnered with the surrounding sauce. The Cornish crab, dulse, miso and BBQ melon, was very unusual. Salty seaweed with flavoursome crab, would recommend getting bread on the side to scoop up the leftovers.
For the veg course we shared the pickled girolles, pied blue, mushroom broth, cavolo and furikake. All wonderful textures and very pretty on the plate but a little too much vinegar which was a theme throughout our evening of dishes. We also shared the fermented flat bread with smoked aubergine and mint, very nice.
To make things easier for sharing our next course was one fish and one meat. Starting with the ‘Lady Hamilton’ smoked pollock, cultured cream, new potatoes and sorrel. This was definitely one of the highlights from the evening, wonderful flavour combinations coming through. Our meat accompaniment was the saddleback pork, braised head, squash, sage and cavolo nero. Was nice dish but not the best pork I’ve ever had, seemed a little bit too fatty.
Unfortunately both the next two land dishes were a bit of a disappointment. Hay smoked organic chicken, celeriac, quince and bread. The celeriac was just too much and not very tasty, ruined the dish if I’m honest. Finally the one I was most excited about, BBQ Dexter short rib, roasted beetroots, parsley root and horseradish. All was just far too sweet and drowned out what should have been the main event, the beautiful short rib, again wasn’t the most tender and seemed a bit of an odd cut.
Pudding redeemed the evening with a dark chocolate, molasses and anise hyssop ice cream which was a heavenly combination.
I’m glad we went and the dishes were really unusual combinations with thoughtful presentation and clearly aimed at seasonal, health conscious approaches to the ingredients. It has made us want to try The Dairy to see how the chefs compare and the way they approach their offerings but perhaps won’t be making the journey down South especially for The Manor.