There’s been no shortage of food critic/blogger high praise for The Manor, a modern neighbourhood bistro in Clapham. So, i was quietly confident that this would be an outstanding meal when i proposed it as the venue for a catch up for the four of us.
The restaurant’s interior is perfectly lovely. The soft lighting and rustic chic style embraced us warmly on a dreary Friday evening, each of us relishing the vibe instantly upon entering.
We settled into our table by the window, commenting on the cute mismatched vintage crockery, and ordered a bottle of red.
The Manor serves up British small plates which have a strong focus on local, seasonal produce & boasts a menu neatly split into 4 categories: Snacks, Land, Sea & Earth. We were surprised (& impressed) to see they have a separate vegetarian menu – not as common as it probably ought to be these days.
Before long, some very enjoyable bread arrived in adorable little hessian sacks, escorted by delicious whipped crispy chicken skin butter sitting precariously on a pebble stone. The bread was kept warm nicely by a hot stone nestled at the base of the sack – a nice touch we all agreed. So far, so good.
From that point on, our orders arrived steadily & as we made our way through each plate, we couldn’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed. Why?
– Many of the dishes read fantastically on paper & certainly sounded interesting, but in reality, we simply found them to be somewhat disappointing & in fact, quite easily forgotten.
– We all agreed that overall, it felt like there was too many of the same flavours & textures being repeated.
– There was plenty of sour & smokey tastes going on, which i did enjoy, but i found that they, along with the richness of some of the sauces, became overpowering after a while.
Here’s a photo diary of what we ate…
For me, this stunningly presented cauliflower plate was the ‘dish of the night’ …
The vegetarian version was sadly exactly the same dish, minus the cod…hardly imaginative…
At this point, I longed for the puddings to be something super special, but frankly, there wasn’t much to write home about on this front either.
Moreover, since my visit, i’ve learnt that diners at The Manor are usually invited to proceed to the dessert bar, where the pastry chefs construct your chosen desserts right in front of you. What a great touch this would have been, had it been offered to us – but it wasn’t.
On the service front, although mostly friendly, it was a tad haphazard at times – staff didn’t seem to be fluid or as observant as i had expected.
Dips Bites; Yes, Clapham’s Manor offers some nice, unusual & interesting flavours & textures, but in the end, the dishes proved just a bit flat. There’s a lot of potential in this restaurant, but unfortunately for us, we walked away with disappointment on our faces.
Personally, i was left feeling pretty confused given all the glowing reviews i’d read – was i missing something? I’ve read that the chefs change their menu every month, so maybe there’s some hope for me yet, who knows. I doubt i’ll be returning to find out though – there are better ‘small plate’ restaurants in town i’d rather dine at.
On the plus side, The Manor’s atmosphere was pretty good, so maybe i’d return for a drink at the bar (& perhaps some of that yummy bread & butter) if i’m ever in the neighbourhood.