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Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons

Church Road, GREAT MILTON, Oxford, OX44 7PD

5 rosettes

Now part of the worldwide Belmond hotels and leisure group, the Manoir remains nonetheless serenely itself, an enduring monument to the achievement of a young French chef who arrived in Oxford a generation ago, with nary a cookery lesson under his belt. The place looks a little like one of the smaller Oxford colleges in its gabled and mullioned demeanour, but the catering is a bit better. It's always worth a stroll around the grounds, where a Japanese tea-garden pops up one minute, a row of well-stocked greenhouses the next. Have a peep: a cornucopia of vegetables and more herb varieties than most of us are capable of naming are in production, providing Gary Jones' kitchen team with the backbone of his monthly-changing seasonal menus. Localism, and therefore seasonality, were a touchstone of the Manoir long before they became shibboleths of serious restaurants the world over, but that was never the whole story. Blanc fulfilled his mission here within a year of opening, attracting top ratings just about everywhere, but the meteoric rise didn't betoken any self-satisfied flatlining. The Manoir has gone on achieving through the decades with ultra-refined French cooking that manages complex intricacy without befuddlement, extraordinary delicacy without blandness, and mesmeric intensity without overstatement. The bilingual menu specifications are precise, yet only hint at the finished product. The truffled wild mushroom risotto is an object-lesson in hugely rich, savoury potency, pungent with the waft of Périgord earth, while great depth is conjured from a pasta such as agnolotti with butternut squash and hazelnuts in a powerful blue cheese sauce of Fourme d'Ambert. Fish is boldly but not roughly treated, as when tenderly flavourful monkfish tail is gently spiced and accompanied by mussels in a saffron-scented Gewürztraminer sauce, while meats are perfectly aged, trimmed, timed and rested to produce main courses such as roast venison loin with celeriac and kale, or squab baked in a salt crust in an unabashedly old-school sauce of truffled madeira. The only way to resist the temptations of the cheese chariot is not to let it anywhere near you. If you do, you'll be regaled by a protean array of fine European specimens, all in prime nick. And just in case things are all getting a little precious, Blanc and Jones have always enjoyed a fun dessert (who remembers the witty chocolate cup of coffee mousse invented here in the 1980s?). These days, there's a house take on millionaire shortbread that puts to shame what they sell on the trains, and yet is more or less constructed on the same principle - soft toffee with bitter chocolate on crumbly shortbread, with the added allure of salty butter ice cream. Go for the seven-course Menu Découverte for the full unforgettable journey.

Further information

Tel: 01844 278881
Please quote 'The AA'.
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Open/closed

Open all year.
Sunday lunch available.

Restaurant information

Cooking type: Modern French
Chef: Raymond Blanc, Gary Jones
Number of seats: 100
Accessible for wheelchairs.
Disabled toilets.
Vegetarian meals available.
Children welcome.
Children's portions.
Parking available.

 

Restaurant price guide

A La Carte Dinner Main Course from: £48.00
Sunday lunch: £124.00-£154.00
Prices are for guidance only. Please check when booking for current rates.

 
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, Great milton
  • Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, Great milton
  • Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, Great milton

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Directions

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M40 junct 7 follow A329 towards Wallingford. After 1m turn right, signed Great Milton and Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons
Nearest station: Oxford/Haddenham/Thame

Local information for OX44 7PD

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