Situated on Clapham Manor Street, The Manor is a new modern bistro from the team behind the Dairy. My favourite dining partner and I visited The Dairy back in November of last year, having never made the effort to review the wonderful meal we had, there was no excuse for me not to share my experiences this time around.
Our first visit to The Manor fit in nicely with the celebration of a certain someones birthday. It felt like the perfect setting for such an occasion as we took our seats in the casual, good-looking Clapham bistro.
We kicked things off with a bottle of birthday bubbles and both selected the tasting menu at £42 per person. Our waitress was very attentive, explaining how the menu played out and highlighting some of the options available to us. To get the most out of our evening, we chose a different main and dessert each from the two available.
Shortly after ordering, a small hessian bag filled with a warm home-baked sourdough roll arrived at our table alongside a pebble smeared with a savory chicken butter. The sourdough bread was absolutely heavenly, spread with a thin layer of chicken butter which absorbed into the hollows of the bread as it melted.
A small slate board holding two thin slices of salumi and two droe wors followed. Droe wors or droëwors is a Southern African snack food, based on the traditional coriander-seed spiced boerewors sausage. It was tough, chewy and spicy which made for an enjoyable mouthful full of flavour. The salumi was a much softer, fattier texture which was equally delicious.
The next dish of crispy chicken skins, kimchi & burnt kale arrived in a warm stone bowl. Matched with the tangy, balsamic kimchi and charcoaled kale the crispy fat dripping chicken skin was a real delight. I could have eaten another portion if I didn’t know there were six others on their way…
A cold dish of cauliflower, grue de cacao, medjool dates & kefir followed. Grue de cacao is a dessert like mousse made from skinned, roasted and (finally) crushed cocoa beans, and Kefir is a fermented milk made with grains. The nutty but mild flavour of the cauliflower was beautifully complemented by the creamy grue de cacao and kefir with sweet medjool dates finishing off the dish nicely.
The next dish was probably my favourite from the whole evening. “Sweet Promise” smoked cod with cultured cream, new potatoes and sorrel. The smoked cod was incredible, it was so light and literally melted in your mouth. ‘Cultured’ cream which apparently refers to the fermentation process that gives a slight tang to it, was exactly that – zesty and tangy. The sorrel also went very well with the fish along with a scattering of new potatoes. The whole thing just came together perfectly, a definite fav.
I chose the pigeon for my main course and my dining partner opted for the pig belly. The hay smoked pigeon was covered in a layer of fermented grains which added another dimension to the texture of the dish, two small parsnips hid underneath a bed of hemp granola. The pigeon, served pink was the real highlight of the dish. I wasn’t a big fan of the hemp granola (or the pigeon foot balancing on the edge of the plate!!), it was a bit like lumpy porridge (I’m talking about the hemp granola, not the pigeon foot) and there was a little too much on the plate for me (same goes for the pigeon foot!).
The suckling pig belly and braised head came with carrots, bitter leaves and caraway. The braised pig head was tender and more enjoyable than the pig belly which, according to my dining partner, needed a little more of a punch. The carrots, bitter leaves and caraway went very well together.
I couldn’t resist ordering the cheese course (£4 supplement) before dessert. Saint-Marcellin was a ridiculously creamy treat, the mottled creamy-white cheese worked well with the pear chutney spread onto walnut toast.
To cleanse the palate before the final dishes of the evening, we were served a small plate of kombucha, gin, cucumber & sesame. Kombucha is a type of tea which combined with gin and cucumber made up an icy sorbet. Sprinkled with sesame seeds and lemon zest, it was like nothing I’d tasted before.
The grande finale of our meal at The Manor, came in the form of two exquisite desserts. The first was a spiced dark chocolate mousse with blood orange and brown butter ice cream. It wasn’t too rich or overpowering, the flavours were just right.
The real show stopper of the evening came in the form of Yorkshire rhubarb with tonka bean custard, kalamata (a black olive paste), hazelnut granola and smashed (frozen) creme fraiche, all enveloped in a haze of vaporising nitrogen. I enjoyed the sweet and sour rhubarb together with the crunchy granola. The nitrogen-prepared creme fraiche was really cold and a little unpleasant against my sensitive teeth. All together it was such an innovative dish that was a real enjoyment to sample.
I can’t begin to tell you how brilliant our meal was at The Manor, I hope the journey of dishes I’ve just taken you through makes you want to pick up the phone and make a reservation there now. It’s affordable, unpretentious, experimental, friendly and above all delicious.
The bill arrived with a small antique draw filled with two chocolate and beetroot cake petit fours. I was delighted to pay for every penny of the meal we’d just consumed. The staff had been friendly and attentive throughout the evening, the food had been nothing but exceptional and after adding our mark to the walls of The Manor we both left with smiles on our faces. Thank you for a wonderful evening.
ADDRESS: 148 Clapham Manor Street, London, SW4 6BX
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org / 0207 720 4662
OPENING HOURS: 18:00 – 22:00 Tuesday, 12:00 – 15:00 and 18:00 – 22:00 Wednesday to Saturday, 12:00 – 16:00 Sunday and closed Mondays, Sunday evenings and Tuesday lunchtimes