Restaurant: Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
Location: Church Road, Great Milton, Oxford, OX44 7PD, England. +44 (0)1844 278 881
Date: July 10, 2013
No Gavin vacation would be complete without a couple top gastronomic restaurants. As it turned out, this year our summer travels brought us to England, and specifically to a little town just fifteen minutes away from Raymond Blanc’s gastronomic temple, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. This lovely (and pricey) country hotel is a Relais and Chateaux (absolutely stellar hotel group) and the restaurant has two Michelin stars. Several English friends recommended it as being perhaps the best restaurant in England!
1988 Bouchard Père et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet. While this wine wasn’t perfect, and was quite restrained, it was in great shape, not oxidized in the least. It had that wonderful quality that mature white Burgundies get, even if it was a little alcoholic on the finish at first (this blew off).
Confit of Salmon, elderflower, garden radish, yuzu cream. This salmon was perfectly cooked, tender, and full of soft flavor. There was an interesting and exotic tone set by the other ingredients, particularly the elderflower. Really excellent.
2005 Domaine de L’Arlot Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Clos de l’Arlot. Burghound 92. Mild reduction detracts from the otherwise ripe aromas of plum and red pinot fruit where there is also a trace of vegetal that gives way to rich, full and sweet flavors that remain pure and refined on the sappy, dusty and obviously mineral-infused, firm and beautifully balanced finish. This is quite linear at present and will need time to flesh out and I would strongly suggest decanting this first if you’re going to try one young to dissipate the reduction.
2010 Donnafugata Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé. 93 points. Like liquid apricot. Unctuous and sweet panoply of marmalade, citrus, mixed exotic fruit; a whiff of smoke; reasonable acidity manages to keep up with the sweetness.
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons didn’t disappoint. This isn’t radically modernist as top gastronomic places go, but the execution and presentation was superb — plus what was really interesting was the subtle complexity of each dish. There were a lot of floral and herbal notes going on, and they blended seamlessly, adding to the dishes rather than distracting. Clearly a very fine chef hitting on all cylinders.