People North of the River must think I’ve turned into a southern fairy hanging around in the South so much. I’m here for one reason though, I’ve not turned soft but on a mission to continue my hard pursuit of Robin and Sarah Gill’s second opening of their trilogy The Manor. Spellbound by my trip to The Dairy I couldn’t wait to eat here to continue my love affair and ventured down a couple of weeks ago. The format is similar to The Dairy’s, utilising their rooftop garden, deli goodies and rooftop honey as well as focussing on seasonality. Atmospherically, on the night it felt like what it says on the tin – a modern bistro with the affiliated buzz and felt more laid back than The Dairy during my dining experience. Head chef Dean Parker who is now the ex-head-chef of the Dairy has brief to deliver simple, seasonal and balanced food in small plate compositions just like it’s older sibling. Could it be a case of sibling rivalry?!
We went for the tasting menu (some some additional dishes) which looked dialled in with the best of the best dishes, some ingredients combined together and at £42 per head with the £33 drinks pairing we couldn’t say no.
We’re presented with hot sour dough bread and herby butter with crispy chicken skin. Baked onsite and heated up for a short while to order so it comes out piping hot. As you tear into the crunchy flavoursome exterior the butter just melts on contact. It was so good but not quite as tasty as the Dairy’s, our lovely waitress agreed with me! Bread porn nonetheless and very addictive.
Pork and fennel salumi (£7) with spiced beef droewors (£6.5). We couldn’t decide as to which one to go for to add to our tasting menu but it ended up being our lucky day as the good staff offered to split the portion so we could taste both. The pork and fennel salumi oozed flavour and had all the textual meaty qualities you’d expect – delicious! The spiced beef droewors was for the advanced meat eater as this preserved meat smelt quite strong, almost cheese like with the spicy meat flavour and delayed chilli kick creeping up on you.
Crispy chicken skins, BBQ sweetcorn, coco beans and koji. The chicken skin came compressed, multi layered, fatty and intense with caramelised chicken flavour, all enhanced by the smokey corn. Koji in case you’re wondering is fungus or mould, particularly popular in the Far East to ferment soybeans. It was the first time I’ve had it this way and the sauce was a custard like consistency with a savoury flavour. Sounds strange but tasted great.
Scorched Chart Farm venison tartare, girolles, bone marrow and spinach. (£7.5). This was one of the additional dishes we ordered; the sweet spinach pea shoot like and girolles sliced mandolin thin accentuating the earthy mushroom flavour which matched the venison very well. (Although I’m not entirely convinced that they were girolles from their appearance!). It come with a pureed chocolate coloured savoury/earthy sauce (perhaps pureed girolles?).
Cornish cod cheeks, black garlic, smoked almond and muscat grapes. (£6). This was another additional dish – I’m a huge advocate of chefs using less mainstream parts any animal to create something original and tasty; the flesh was delicate, flakey, seasoned perfectly served cold with sour cream. The almonds and from what I gather lightly battered crispy fried nori seaweed provided the all important textual element.
Smoked heritage beetroot, pistachio, chia seeds & butter milk. I loved this dish, the beets were sweet, earthy, juicy and worked well the tapioca-esque plump chia seeds. It was so hard not to fall in love with it.
It was all washed down with one of our ‘drinks flight’ cocktails – ‘Just Beet It’ comprising of Calvados, Amaro, beetroot juice & bitters. It’s obvious why they have done made up this concoction – the pair just went hand in hand!
‘Julie Girl’ monkfish, clams, carrots, white grapes & hazelnuts. This dish gave me pure eating pleasure – 2 plump pieces of monk fish cooked perfectly nestled on toasted hazelnuts and sweet carrots. Be kind to yourself and order this!
Barbecued lamb shoulder, heart, sweetbreads, anchovies, peas, runner beans & goat curds. Everything on this dish was just meant to be – you get that complex fatty rich lamb flavour complimented by the umami anchovy sauce which is lifted by the sweet vegetables. The pink heart and sweetbread were like little jewels in the crown.
Hay smoked wood pigeon, elderberries, seeds and bitter leaves. (£13). This was the last of the ‘extra’ dishes we ordered and the least convincing of the bunch. Perhaps it was a case of it not being a bad dish per se but not being a patch on the rest. The pigeon was quite tough and not like the usual livery tender goodness you generally have.
Iberico Presa, suckling pig belly, nduja kimchi & sweet potato. The Iberico presa cooked until pink in the middle (a little more cooking would have made it more succulent in my humble opinion) came with a rich, strong, nutty flavour which is incomparable with ordinary pork – it was delicious alongside that cube of crispy melt in your mouth pig belly. And who would have thought to pair up spreadable Italian spicy sausage with cabbage? An all round excellent plate of food.
Desert time! Green apple parfait, celery and cucumber gin. The ultimate palate cleanser personified – a combination of brunoise celery & cucumber, a nice scoop of apple sorbet and a buttery biscuit wearing a hat of foam. It tasted better than it looked!
Blueberries, bees wax sorbet, potato, kefir and The Dairy’s rooftop honey. Kefir is fermented milk and is what you can see crumbled on top. The dish was subtly sweet from the honey nestling on the base, refreshing and balanced too.
White chocolate ice cream, strawberry grapes, green tea and walnuts. It came with a granola like crunch, sweet grapes and a perfectly balanced ice cream. This little desert is The Manor playing to it’s strengths and they absolutely nail it. It was amazing and a real treat to eat.
The damage: Expect to pay £90-£100 for the tasting menu (with additional dishes) and wine/cocktail pairings
The good: I think this is a case of 2 siblings (The Dairy vs The Manor) throwing their rivalry out of the window and giving each other muchos mutual respect. I’m already looking for to dining with the 3rd sibling. The food is emphatically good, inventive with unique ingredient combinations. I hear people say certain restaurants are worth crossing the river for and this is one of them – but let’s be honest if you’re a true die hard dining fan it doesn’t matter which side of the river you’re enjoying some quality eating. Stand out dishes for us included the heritage beetroot, ‘Julie Girl’ monk fish, Iberico presa, BBQ lamb shoulder, green apple parfait and white chocolate ice cream. Let’s give the staff a special mention too as the service was brisk, knowledgeable and above all friendly.
The bad: The pigeon dish deserves to be skipped and our last wine pairing was missed. However we were offered a Mount Gay rum substitute which was a nice way to compensate and yes we did drink it!
148 Clapham Manor St, London SW4 6BX