Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons

Le Manoir Conservatory at night

I recently had the privilege of experiencing celebrity chef Raymond Blanc’s exquisite restaurant at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons. Recognised as one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons, part of the Belmond group, is a grand and stately old English country manor house surrounded by extensive grounds and beautiful walled gardens full of plump seasonal vegetables and fragrant herbs and spices which are used in the Raymond Blanc restaurant kitchen. The two-Michelin starred fine dining restaurant offers the very best in haute cuisine in beautiful surroundings, yet despite the hotel’s grandeur it still manages to feel completely comfortable, welcoming and homely.

When we arrived, we were led into a cosy snug room where we were served a selection of hors d’oevres with our Gin & Tonics (A refreshing mix of Elephant Gin and “1724” Tonic) and handed the detailed dinner menu of the 8 course tasting menu that awaited us. 

Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons

We were led to the main restaurant – a smartly furnished conservatory with walls and ceilings of glass, flooding the restaurant with natural light during the day and allowing diners to eat under the stars at night.

Le Manoir Conservatory at night

We sat at our table (one of 32 – a table for each of the 32 bedrooms) and took in the atmosphere; a classic and minimally decorated room with lots of white and green – crisp white linen table cloths, sparkling glasses, and plenty of plants, the room filled with the soft background hum of chatter and laughter.

Our first course arrived; cullen skink with a smoked haddock beignet. The cullen skink (essentially a Scottish smoked haddock soup) was rich and wonderful, and came paired with a Chassagne-Montrachet 2012 Domaine Bernard Moreau from Bourgogne, France.

Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons

Next we were served Scottish langoustines with Jerusalem artichoke and Perigord truffle “Terre et Mer”, which came paired with a Viognier Les Vignes d’a Cote 2013, Yves Cuilleron from Vallee du Rhone, France.

Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons

Our third course was a sweet dish of butternut squash, hazelnut and Fourme d’Ambert cheese agnolotti (a type of pasta not unlike ravioli), paired with a Lanius 2013 Alta Alella from Catalunya, Spain.

Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons

Next on the menu was Cornish sea bass with a light broth of shellfish, yuzu and sea vegetables, paired with the Pessac-Leognan 1998 Chateau Haut-Bergey from Brodeaux, France.

Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons

Then we came a juicy roasted fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef, braised Jacob’s ladder, watercress and wild mushrooms in red wine essence, paired with the Les Lions de Suduiraut 2009 Chateau Suduiraut from Bordeaux, France.

Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons

A Carpaccio of blood orange and campari cleaned the palate as we took a deep breath and had a little break..

Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons

…before finishing off our meal with the pear “Belle Helene” and a “cheese board” (a trolley with a mountain of wonderful and exotic cheeses).

Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons

Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons

Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons

Throughout our meal the service was impeccable as we were given detailed explanation of each course as it was laid out in front of us, as well as expert knowledge about the wines, and just the right amount of attention whilst remaining mostly invisible.

After our 8 course meal (and 8 glasses of matching wines, as well as two gin and tonics earlier) it was most definitely bedtime and we swayed merrily back to our room. Needless to say, we slept like logs and woke up late the next morning feeling brand new. When we eventually had to leave – well rested and very well fed – the feeling was bittersweet. We had had the best dining experience of our life and we knew that nothing else would ever compare or come close to the foodgasms that we had experienced!