You may have read that in January we stayed at the stunning ‘The Slaughters Manor House’ in the Cotswolds for Tim’s birthday. While we were there, we had dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, headed up by Chef Nik Chappel, originally from Yorkshire (woohoo!) and who started out as an artist. Nik’s menus have a focus on fresh local produce epitomising the best seasonal dining, but as you’ll soon see, they’re also beautiful to look at, with some really unusual flavour combinations.
We started our evening with a drink in the lounge upstairs, with one of the best barmen we’ve ever encountered – we told him we both love gin and what sort of botanicals and flavours we like, and he created bespoke cocktails for us! The drinks menu opened with “the icy tinkle chimed, ‘gin o’clock’ the room murmured.” This was my kind of place!!
We were really torn between the two different tasting menus, the 6 course and 8 course. From our experience these menus don’t usually differ very much – the latter usually just has an extra two courses. In this case they were quite different and although we’d normally go for the bigger menu (because we’re greedy piggies), on this occasion we decided to go for the 6 course menu because we preferred the dishes and ingredients. However I still managed to sneak in an extra cheese course (obviously!!) 🙂
After our amuse bouche bites, the first course was a very enjoyable Celeriac Risotto, Duck Egg Yolk and Ham – I would have just liked more of it, but it was only the first course after all!
Second course was Scorched Onion, Lovage, Mustard and Radish. Being meat-obsessed, I can often find meat-free dishes rather dull, but not in this case, it was actually one of my favourite dishes in the whole menu. Simple ingredients but beautifully cooked and served.
Third course was Slow Roasted Quail, Truffle and Boullion. As far as I’m concerned you can’t go wrong with this, it was rich and delicious. If only quails could be bigger, I could have eaten much more of this!
Fourth course was BBQ Octopus, Watermelon, Wasabi and Miso. This is such an odd mix but I loved it – it cleverly combined so many cuisines. The octopus and watermelon reminded me a little bit of the Greek food from my childhood (although the octopus would have been grilled with lemon, salt and pepper rather than BBQ), but then it brought in Asian inspiration with wasabi and miso. A winner for me!
Fifth course was Rose Veal, Pink Grapefruit and Macaroni. This was a tasty dish but perhaps the most underwhelming of all of the courses. The veal was perfectly cooked but overall it lacked a bit of ‘oomph’. Although I’m not a massive grapefruit lover, I was still intrigued by the combination of ingredients in this dish, but I didn’t really blow me away.
This is where I managed to sneak in the cheese course, and I’m so glad I did because it was heaven on a plate – Truffled Waterloo Cheese, Pear, Walnut and Honey. It tasted as though there was truffle in the honey too, it was gorgeous and wonderfully presented.
The final dish was 54% Quador Chocolate, Olive Oil and Hazelnut. This was really enjoyable and the flavour of the olive oil was very unique with the chocolate, it definitely worked well together, particularly with the wide variety of textures.
Overall I thought it was a very clever and inventive menu. Some of the combinations were perhaps a bit too unusual, but I’d much rather try a menu where boundaries are pushed rather than staying overly safe or dare I say it, boring! It’s a tasting menu I’ll always remember.
I can’t recommend staying at this hotel enough, it was a fantastic weekend away. You can find out more about the restaurant here.