A Manor of Speaking.
There are times when everything just fits together as it should. Food, atmosphere, staff and company combine in delightful harmony and you leave feeling as though your stomach and heart have had a bit of a cuddle. Those are the moments to savour and precisely what you'll find at The Manor in Clapham.
From the team that brought the delightful Dairy, comes an equally comforting treat.
I couldn't wait to try it out for myself after hearing it's praises sung by many a trusted source, and when a last-minute table appeared, excitement was an understatement.
Tumbling in from the cold (bleugh, standard England), we were greeted by a stripped back, rustic interior with the sort of lighting that envelopes you in a warm embrace upon entry. That wiggle your toes, and curl up by the proverbial fire sort of atmosphere was just what we needed!
Smiles followed quickly and we perched at the entertainingly graffiti covered bar awaiting our table.
Not that we minded in the slightest (or really even noticed in fact .. thank you Rioja), our table was taking a little longer to be vacated than expected. We were in no hurry and were encouraged that people didn't want to leave the restaurant. While an extra 3 minutes on the platform awaiting the tube is positively outrageous, I'd happily be made to wait for our table again. We were looked after impeccably and I'd actually recommend stopping for a drink and soaking up the atmosphere at the bar before you sit down.
To our surprise and delight, pork and fennel salumi appeared, (it is around about now that I eat my words where pure hatred of fennel is concerned), along with fermented potato flatbread with heaven-sent smoked aubergine, all to apologise for the wait. While totally unnecessary, we appreciated the thoughtful gesture that set our taste buds tingling. By golly gosh was that aubergine something to rave about!
We were soon led through the cheerful bustle of the restaurant to our table and after taking a quick glance at the misted up glass behind us, there was no doubt we had the better deal!
To our table arrived sourdough, all snuggled in a beanbag of it's own to keep it toasty warm while beside it sat creamy chicken skin butter atop a perfectly chilled pebble.
Cod, sour cream, wakame and rice crackers took to the stage next and presented us with mouthfuls of sharp, silky, creamy fish and a subtly spiced crunch. Pretty as a picture too!
For the mains, it was onto pigs belly, morcilla and squash, a warming sweet and succulently comforting dish with a crackle, a nuttiness and a smooth texture that inspired plate licking.
The smoked Pollock was delicate and perfectly complimented by the cream sauce, new potatoes and sorrel to give it an extra kick (although the crisps were a rather bizarre addition).
They've gone all out nostalgic with a hint of magic, tapping into the childish delights we all secretly dream of. Ice cream Sundaes were created from liquid nitrogen in front of our vary eyes and topped with an array of treats from the treasure pots.
Yes, of course I got a little snap happy, but what can I say .. So.Much.Smokey.Steamy.Magic!
Introducing the end result, a sweet tooth heaven! Super sweet buttermilk ice cream laden with honey comb, meringue, popcorn, popping candy, chocolate dust and potentially a trip to the dentist (brush your teeth people)!
While this spectacular dessert was an utterly indulgent delight, It would have scored full marks if it had been half the size - cheeky mouthfuls as opposed to whopping great guilty mountain!
It's fair to say that I would make the journey to Clapham again and again (yes, this is big), solely for the purpose of returning to The Manor. The food is spectacular, imaginative and doesn't take itself too seriously and the shabby chic, cosy interior is versatile. Be it a romantic dinner date, a catch up with pals or lunch with the parents, all boxes have been ticked and I can't wait for a second outing.