We went out to eat with my in-laws to celebrate their anniversary a few weeks ago (happy anniversary by the way, guys!) and The Manor in Clapham was chosen as the place to be. It's just opened recently, and it's from the same people who run The Dairy, a very popular restaurant in the same area. This style of food, sort of new British or European cuisine, it's not really something I'm terribly familiar with - so don't take this review as that of an expert: I'm a humble American raised on Kraft Mac & Cheese and frozen burritos, haha.
We started with cocktails and a quick amuse bouche - it was a puffed cracker and tasted quite a bit like mayonnaise with a hint of the sea. To be honest, I can barely remember it. I remember that I liked it at the time, but it must not've been the most memorable part of the night! Really, you're in trouble if an amuse bouche is the most memorable part of your meal. The cocktail I had was one of my top favs so far this year, and I've had some good ones. I highly recommend the Clockwork Orange to my fellow tangy 'n' zesty citrus fans.
We were recommended to have four courses each, which would've been a ton of food. I had three & a half and felt very full, as did everyone else at the table. I mean, maybe at dinner four courses would be more reasonable, but at lunchtime it would've been wild. The portion sizes vary, but my vegetable & fish course was both quite sizable and would've been enough as just two courses, even.
We ordered the sourdough bread with chicken butter - definitely a great start. Warm, and sour & slightly lactic sourdough (one of my favorite breads, not terribly easy to find a good one here in the UK) with whipped butter dotted with fried tiny bits o' chicken skin. Salty, savory, and just a little bit sour: this was a lovely beginning. It was served in a cloth bag that kept it warm, and was presented all together very charmingly. No pictures, by this time we were quite hungry, haha.
My first chosen dish, however, was my favorite - spiced beef droe wors. Droe wors is a South African sausage snack, It's traditionally dried and quite chewy, but in this case it may have been made more fresh & therefore was softer like a cured salami or summer sausage. It had a strong beefiness & spicy hits of coriander, black pepper, chili, and perhaps paprika. This one was super tasty, I'd happily have just wolfed down a double-sized portion of these.
The vegetable course was burnt kale, cavalo nero, and toasted almonds. It was slightly bitter & tasted a bit like Parmesan, in the pleasant way that kale does, and reminded me a bit of burnt popcorn - being burnt, in all, it's just char. Masses upon masses of it was set upon the plate. The almonds & the addition of butter made it seem quite decadent, and I think the amount of butter probably evened out the healthiness of the kale, haha. If you ever chomp down happily on the charred bit of anything, you'd probably love this. I like burnt crusts & burnt bits of brownie, so I was a big fan. Interesting to note that kale & cavalo nero are almost the same thing.
I also had the "Lady Hamilton" smoked pollock, cultured cream, new potatoes and sorrel. The fish was, pardon, swimming in the cultured cream, which at first I was into, but quickly became a bit much. I love cream: sour, fresh, fraiche, whipped, sweetened, whatever. This is a thin cream with a sour tang, presumably 'cultured' in the same way yogurt is - similar to buttermilk. The fish was exceedingly well-cooked,very soft & tender flesh with a light smokiness, but that cream...just too much. Every mouthful of every thing on the plate had to be eaten with about half a tablespoon of cream. And I love cream, and I'm even partial to buttermilk, but this stuff was just too much. I nearly enjoyed this dish, but it really just had to have about half the amount of cream that it did, and it would've still been quite a lot.
I had heard that there was a dessert bar of sorts, a 'make your own sundae' style bar with more adult toppings. Unfortunately, I'm always a bit nervy to ask about 'off menu' things and this sundae bar wasn't listed anywhere or being advertised anywhere in the restaurant - I had only heard about it via the Heroine in Heels blog. I'm sure had I asked our server about it, I would've gotten an answer - maybe it's only available at weekends, et cetera, but I clammed up. That's my fault! My guess is it is just for dinner time.
All is fair though, because I did get a delicious spiced dark chocolate mousse & blood orange, and brown bread ice cream platter. The mousse was creamy and quite heavily spiced, the blood orange came in the form of lightly sweetened slices and a bit of syrup, and the brown bread ice cream was malty & delicious. There were also crisps that tasted like cocoa nibs - all in all, a well-balanced & tasty end to the meal.
...but it wasn't the end! We also got little cubes of jelly that were like malty quince. Very nice - I actually would've happily taken a box of these home, and I'm not usually a jelly fan.
All in all a very good meal with far more hits than misses - just the fish wasn't so good, just because of the amount of cream. I've seen a few other pictures online of this dish, and it seemed to have less cream - so I think that I may have just accidentally gotten more. I'd highly recommend trying the bread, the droe wors, and of course the sundae bar that I couldn't find, ha. A very nice meal, and good service - I'd go back for sure, and I'd like to try The Dairy as well.